Students among 4.8 million advance voters

by | Oct 18, 2019 | Federal Election, Headlines, News

Donna Akbari, News Reporter

Jessica Chan found herself in the unfamiliar surroundings of Humber College’s B building recently, but the trip to the Vote on Campus polls ahead of the Oct. 21 federal election to vote for her first time was worth it. 

“It’s strange going into that part of the building,” Chan, a Personal Support student, said. “Most of my classes are in the L, E and H buildings, so I never really had a reason to be near the place. It took a bit of digging.”

Chan said it was a memorable experience and she was glad she could vote on campus. However, she hopes in the future the on-campus polls — which were open Oct. 5 to 9 — could be held in a more populated part of the college such as the LRC building to make it more accessible.

Jessica Chan, first year student of the personal support program, said elections are a private matter and the staff and security took measures to make sure it was kept that way throughout the week of advanced polling. (Donna Akbari)

Not everyone took the opportunity to cast an early ballot.

Nicole Aguiar, a Personal Support Worker student, told Et Cetera “the elections don’t interest me.”

“As long as the economy remains stable for me to be able to get a good job, I don’t care who is elected or which party is elected,” she said. 

Kelly Jackson, Humber’s associate vice-president for Government Relations, said the polling station was important to have as it gives an opportunity to think critically, make bold choices and become leaders of change. 

“We want to make leaders,” said Jackson. “That’s what Humber is all about to create the future leaders of tomorrow.” 

She said the location of the advance polls was based on Elections Canada’s needs.

“We work with Elections Canada over several months, including having them on both campuses for site-visits to get the right spaces that meet their needs,” Jackson said. 

She said it was an interesting experience for staff to see first-hand the considerations that go into selecting a room where voting will take place. 

Humber’s North and Lakeshore campuses were among the 119 university and college campuses that participated in Elections Canada’s Vote on Campus program.

The advance polling on campus helped boost the estimated number of voters at the early polls to about 4.7 million, a 29 per cent surge from the about 3.7 million advance voters in the 2015 federal election, Elections Canada reported.

It also reported another 111,300 students cast early ballots during the Vote on Campus drive between Oct. 5 and 9, up from about 70,000 in 2015.

“To get the ballot box on campus, we had to work with Elections Canada on a lease agreement that met all their technical and other needs for about 12 days so that they could set up the polling station, hold voting and then take down their set up,” she said. 

“It was important to participate in the Vote on Campus program because it’s important to make your voice heard,” she said. “The federal government is responsible for making decisions that affect our everyday lives and we are fortunate that we live in a place where we get to participate in the democratic process.”

Since 2004, the Apathy is Boring project has encouraged voters, especially young people, to cast ballots.

“Whether you vote or not it will impact you. You can choose to take part in that decision — or step back and let the change impact you,” said Samantha Reusch, a researcher with Apathy is Boring.