Following the cancellation of the Vote on Campus program for the 2021 federal election, post-secondary students are urging Elections Canada employees to do “all they can” to get out the student vote.
“There are youth voter studies out there that show youth believe voting doesn’t make a difference,” Saad Shoaib, vice-president external for the University of British Columbia’s Alma Mater Society, told. “I think these types of actions, and the lack of deployment of special ballot polling stations exacerbates those negative trends.”
The Vote on School program will not be offered this September because of practical issues, according to Elections Canada: the pandemic and a minority government made it very impossible to prepare anything on campus.
Vote on Campus was a targeted programme that allowed students away at school to vote in their home ridings. Students were able to vote by special ballot or update their voter information, allowing them to vote in the local riding, at temporary voting offices put up on campus.
It began as a test program in 2015, but in the 2019 federal election, it was expanded to 109 schools and universities. “Vote on Campus takes months and months to organize. An election can also be called at any point during a minority government ” Elections Canada spokesperson Rejean Grenier said.
“The epidemic did not assist in any way. When we first started planning this campaign, most of the colleges were closed until March 2020 — and they didn’t know when they would reopen ” Grenier stated.
Returning officers for Elections Canada, according to Grenier, are working to locate polling sites in student neighborhoods where possible.