A simple answer could be the closeness of the race; for the first time in over a decade of Liberal domination, the New Conservative Party became a viable option for many voters. Polls showed Paul Martin and Stephen Harper in a neck-and-neck battle, the outcome of which was tough to call right down to the final day.
Those who sided with the right were encouraged by the possibility of Harper becoming the new Prime Minister, while lefties were forced to fear the downfall of the Liberal government.
Simply put, kids were finally given reason to believe that their voices mattered that their votes could actually change the fundamental base of the country.
Prior to election day, a host of ads encouraging young people to vote appeared, with the primary message being: Vote! You have a voice, so use it. And perhaps these ads had an influence on the increased turnout among youth.
But in itself, this message is not enough. While encouraging people to vote is admirable, a more useful tack may be to encourage people to get informed.
After all, despite the sharp spike in youth voting, overall turnout for the election declined slightly in 2004, indicating that political apathy is still a troubling issue in Canadian society.
Many people, both young and old, are likely abstaining from active engagement in the political process because they are ill-informed and unable to face the daunting task of dissecting the daily deluge of information available as soon as the writ is dropped.
In many ways, this trend is a product of the busy modern age. But it can also be frustrating when the pivotal question of an election becomes not who would make an outstanding leader, but rather who would make the least objectionable one arguably, this was the situation in the recent Canadian federal election.
But putting in the effort to get informed about who will run our country and casting a ballot on election day is hardly too much for a country to ask of its citizens.
Certainly, it is encouraging that youth voting increased by such a drastic margin this year. But without a close race to spur voters on, these numbers could just as easily fall in the next election.
So how can we combat voter apathy from the ground up and ensure that the percentage of voters in all demographics continues to rise?
One idea is to start political education in high school, with mandatory poli-sci classes for young students to teach the broad and fundamental differences between the parties. Surely this subject is as important as math or science.
We must teach our children from a young age that politics affects every facet of their lives and that they can make a difference.