Laef Kucheran is fighting back against criticism that young people are apathetic about politics and disinclined to vote.
“I don’t find that to be to be true at all,” said the 18-year-old graduate of Coquitlam’s Inquiry Hub program. “[Young people] care a lot about the policies but they don’t always know who stands behind what platform.”
To help bridge the knowledge gap, the Burnaby resident has developed votemate.org, which voters can use to find out what political parties best match their views; rate party stances on everything from the environment to jobs; and learn about candidates in their riding.
“The goal is to make that information accessible to everyone, from the very young to the old and wise,” Kucheran told The Tri-City News.
This is the third time the young programer and podcaster has created an election guide for voters, and with information for Ontario, Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba as well as B.C., it is the most complicated and detailed to date.
Prior to the federal election, Kucheran created VoteMate for provincial and civic elections.
This time, Kucheran had to sift through the party platforms of all major parties and contact 1,331 candidates from across the country to get their information.
People who use VoteMate are encouraged to choose issues they are interested in, compare party platforms and then rate them.
“You can tailor it,” said Kucheran, who noted people are starting to try out the program and about 300 candidates are signing up to participate.
Kucheran has been working on the project since he graduated in June and has been putting almost full time hours into it lately to include as much detail as possible, including ways that people can contact candidates directly and ask questions.
He hopes to further refine the information as voting day approaches, in addition to time spent helping out at Inquiry Hub and working on podcasts with his brother, with the goal of applying for broadcast journalism school next year.
But for now, Kucheran is focused on making VoteMate as user-friendly as possible. And when Oct. 21 rolls around, what will he be doing?
“I will be voting,” Kucheran said.