Voting system treats residence buildings as single units

Several students in residence unable to register to vote online in the upcoming municipal election

Victoria Hall is one of three student residences to be correctly identified for municipal voter registration.
Journal file photo

Of the 17 residence buildings at Queen’s, eight are treated as a single unit in the City of Kingston’s voting system, creating barriers for students who wish to be placed on the voters list.

Only three residence buildings, Victoria Hall, Waldron Tower, and Jean Royce Hall Phase 1, are correctly identified as multi-unit buildings.

In the other buildings—Leggett Hall, Adelaide Hall, Ban Righ Hall, Chown Hall, and other graduate student buildings—residents can’t use their mailing address when registering to vote online because a voting ballot won’t be mailed to an individual unit.

Instead, they must then head to polling stations with proof of address.

Matt Gaiser, CompSci ’19, and current municipal election candidate, tried to register for voting online using a Victoria Hall address when he was a first-year student.

“I tried a variety of combinations for my own residence room and couldn’t figure out how to register,” Gaiser told The Journal. “Essentially, you’re making it very difficult for the people in those buildings to vote in the sense that they do not get their ballots in the mail, they do not get them automatically.”

Unregistered residents must provide proof of address at the polling booth, which is a “difficult process” for students, according to Gaiser. 

“The challenge with that is most students wouldn’t have their residence address on their ID,” Gaiser said. “No one’s going to change their driver’s license just to match Victoria Wing B, room 313.”

Gaiser was unable to provide documentation of his residence address when he tried to vote.

“I was not successful at voting,” he said. “I came into residence after the effective deadline had passed. I was one of the ones who would have to vote in the actual physical polling booth, but the challenge was I couldn’t find a document that proved that I lived in residence.”

Students who can’t input their address into the online registration system can call the Municipal Property Assessment Corporation [MPAC] to set it up manually.

Gaiser attempted to help his friend follow this process.

“It took us an hour of waiting on hold, and in the end, she didn’t actually end up on the voters’ List,” he said. “We put in the work, talked to them, supposedly got her all registered, and she didn’t end up making the voters List.”

Newer residences like Brant House and Leonard Hall aren’t in the system, making a phone call to MPAC futile.

“It wouldn’t even let you register,” Gaiser said. “As far as they’re concerned, there’s no building there.”

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