Student vote has been a big concern in this federal election and with such a large number of eligible voters being in the university age range, it is even more important to talk about how this can happen. The difficult part about student vote awareness is the resistance with which pro-voters are met.
However, a study done by Samara Canada, a non-profit organization working with Elections Canada, found that students aren’t apathetic about politics or issues; there are just more barriers to voting as a student that aren’t apparent to non-student individuals. According to Ashley Fearnall, president of Trent Politics Society, one major barrier is that most students are disconnected from politics and elections. She points out that while there are many barriers, it is not impossible to vote.
“Students don’t get the same level of contact with political parties, individuals, or organizations. They’re just left out; they’re excluded from the conversation consistently,” remarked Fearnall.
To try and overcome this barrier, the Trent Votes Campaign is bringing the candidates to campus on October 14 in the Athletic Complex (AC) gymnasium from 7PM to 9PM.
On October 19, voting day, Trent Votes is bringing an on-campus voting booth to the AC that will be a voting station for students that live on residence – for some, not quite as far a trek as the walk to Blackburn Hall.
“We’re hoping to get about half of the students. It’s in the Athletic Complex this year, previously it has been in Blackburn Hall and I think this will increase [voter turnout],” said Fearnall.
It should be noted that off-campus students cannot vote at the on-campus voting booth. They should still go to the polls in the riding for their place of residence. This is another barrier students face when it comes to voting – not having their school residence as their permanent residence address. These off-campus students have the option to register on Elections Canada with a driver’s license or government-issued ID.
Fearnall also emphasized that students, on- or off-campus, must have a piece of ID with proof of their current address when they go to the polls. The Voter ID card will be mailed to students registering this year but it only serves to inform them of their poll station.
“The Voter ID card no longer counts as proof of address so you do need either a bank statement with your full name and address or bills. If you live on residence, you can print off a Proof of Residency letter and Housing will fill that out,” Fearnall explained. If you are a student that has kept your permanent address on your phone bills and bank statements, and you’re not the roommate whose name the utilities bill is under, it’s not too late to change the address on an e-bill.
“We’ve been advocating for students to be proactive about it and switch their bills over ahead of time,” Fearnall urged.