It's a problem just about every election cycle, getting young people to the polls and casting their vote. Students especially are part of this struggle because if the election in question takes place while they're away from their home riding, they'll have to either vote in their school's riding, or vote via absentee ballot back home. As fate would have it, Elections Canada is making it easier this year by hosting several days of advanced polls where students can cast ballots that will count in their home ridings.
The pilot project, announced today by Elections Canada, will open centres on upwards of 40 campuses in early October to allow out-of-town students the option of voting for their MP back home. The hope is to increase turnout amongst the always prickly student demographic.
"Voting will be by special ballot: votes will count in the riding where the voter's home address is located, wherever that may be. For this reason, Elections Canada offices are particularly convenient for voters who are outside their riding during the election period," says the Elections Canada website.
The offices will be open from October 5 to 8, the week before most students go home for the Thanksgiving long weekend. These will also be separate from other advanced polls opened by Elections Canada, which will take place in the weeks following these pilot project polls. In our area, the University of Waterloo is confirmed to be getting one, and CTV News confirmed that one will be set up at the University of Guelph as well. A full list of the 40 participating campuses is not yet available because Elections Canada is still negotiating to lease space.
The same rules will apply for these voting stations as the regular polling stations, including the new voter i.d. rules via the Fair Elections Act. Voters will need two pieces of recognized identification to be able to vote. Also, those wanting to vote will have to be familiar with the candidates in their home riding, and know before entering the name of who they're going to vote for. Unlike regular polls, there will not be pre-printed ballots available.