This Federal election, Elections Canada is not offering its Vote on Campus program where they allowed students to vote by special ballot in their home riding or update their information on the spot so they could cast ballots in the riding geographically associated with their student residence, easily on school campuses (1). This poses major accessibility barriers for youth to be able to exercise their democratic right to vote, and have a say over their future. In addition to transportation barriers, lack of on-campus voting dramatically reduces the ability to engage with those that might not otherwise vote due to lack of knowledge about electoral processes, given that many within this age group are first time voters. Historically, young adults top the charts for lowest voter turnout (2) despite millennials being the largest proportion of voters in Canada. This highlights the role of barriers towards voting functioning as (sometimes inadvertent) forms of voter suppression. Overall, more needs to be done to make it easier to vote. If Elections Canada cannot make it easier within the timeframe till the election on Sept. 20th, we have made some recommendations for what students can do to help increase youth turnout. If you have additional suggestions, feel free to email email@example.com.
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SOLUTIONS TO PUSH
(1) Students should sign up to vote by mail immediately via elections.ca (deadline Tues, Sept 14, 2021 at 6:00pm EST)
TIP: If you move to your university or college town by or before September 20th (election day) be sure to be proactive and figure out where you want to mail it to - your student residence or your permanent home address. You can vote by mail in your home riding, or vote in the one associated with your student address (using utility bills or other proof of address in the registration process). This requires planning in advance but will likely be the easiest option for many, given the pandemic and given accessibility/transportation barriers to polling stations now that they will not be on campus.
TIP: If you’re a university or college student organizer/ campus group/ student union, make a list of your local polling stations and share the address/ how to get there via public transit widely across campus and through your listserv(s). Making it easier for everyone to know the address/ operational hours of the polling stations can make a huge difference for turnout. If you have funding, offer group transportation (e.g., buses driving students out to the polls).
BIGGEST ACTION ITEM: We are accumulating a list of local polling stations for each college/university campus as well, which you can access and add to here.
If voting before election day, your options are:
By mail: To vote by mail, apply online or at any Elections Canada office across Canada before Tuesday, September 14, 6:00 p.m.
At advance polls: Vote at your assigned polling station (determine your assigned polling station’s location) on Friday, September 10; Saturday, September 11; Sunday, September 12; and Monday, September 13, 9:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m.
At any Elections Canada office across Canada: There are over 500 Elections Canada offices open across Canada. Vote at any one of them before Tuesday, September 14, 6:00 p.m. You will vote using the special ballot process.
TIP: If you vote by mail, in advanced polls or by special ballot, share your experience on social media (post pictures!). Leading by example helps others to do the same!
If voting at a polling station on election day (Mon, Sept 20th, 2021)
In person: Voting in your riding at your assigned polling station on election day, Monday, September 20
Bring peers with you when you go to vote to increase youth participation because people are more likely to engage if others are and if it’s more easily accessible.
Make sure your assigned polling station meets your accessibility needs by calling Elections Canada at 1-800-463-6868 or 1-800-361-8935 (TTY).
TIP: If you don’t have an ID, you can still vote if you declare your identity and address in writing and have someone who knows you and who is assigned to your polling station vouch for you. The voucher must prove their identity and address using option 1 or option 2. A person can vouch for only one person (except in long-term care facilities)