Jordan Brown knew he had an uphill battle towards a seat in the Newfoundland and Labrador’s House of Assembly.
Brown, 29, was up against Liberal cabinet minister Graham Letto in the May 16 election, in a district his New Democratic Party had won twelve years before.
According to Statistics Canada, around 20 per cent of the population of the district is under 35.
He had to use every advantage he had to make a credible shot for the seat. One of those advantages was 20-year-old Nathan Hall.
Brown says he gave Hall one job on his campaign: get young people out to vote.
“That’s all I told him to do. Just the young people. Go look after the young people and make sure they get out to vote,” said Brown.
“When the polls opened, to the polls’ close, he was making calls to people who said they would vote. He was getting his friends to call their friends – it was almost like an old-fashioned phone tree.”
On advance polling day, Hall got in his truck and personally drove as many young people as he could find to the polling stations.
Brown estimates that Hall’s efforts got 150 out to vote on advance polling day alone.
“Even on election day, the people that he couldn’t get on advance day he picked up election day. People that voted on advance day called him on election day and offered their help,” said Brown.
On election night on May 16, Brown saw his efforts and the significant efforts of Hall pay off. Brown was declared the new member of the House of Assembly by five votes. A judicial recount upheld the results, but brought the margin of victory to just two. Brown credits Hall’s efforts of directly engaging with young people in the district as one of the keys to his narrow, improbable victory.
Brown says politicians need to learn to communicate better with young voters to show them just how important their ballot really is.
“Bring yourself to their level. Talk them to them as they want to be talked to. Bring relevancy, don’t bombard them with facts and figures. Bring a relevant message to them,” said Brown.
“Don’t talk down to them, talk to them.”
— David Maher