Cancelling the ‘Vote On Campus’ program leaves university students at a disadvantage for the upcoming election

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In light of the Sept. 20 election, Elections Canada cancelled their Vote On Campus program. But blaming the pandemic and the lack of time for preparation doesn’t justify the destructive effect the decision will have on young people’s ability to vote.

Students need the Vote on Campus program—which allowed them to cast ballots in our home ridings on campus—as many of us move far from our homes to attend school.

The existing voting measures for students away from home aren’t as accessible as they’re promoted to be. Little is being done to promote alternative ways to vote to students living outside their home ridings.

Without any external help, it’s too easy to  give up on navigating the voting system.

Cancelling Vote On Campus because of logistical issues related to the pandemic and the sudden election is a weak excuse.

Just as universities and colleges are welcoming students back for in-person classes with health precautions, Elections Canada could’ve planned an accessible and safe voting option for students. Neither the pandemic nor snap elections are new concepts—surely the organization could’ve thought of something.

The lack of public discussion on voting options is frustrating—when paired with the cancellation of Vote on Campus, the situation seems like a deliberate, planned act of voter suppression.

For many students, the 2021 election will be their first opportunity to vote. Seizing this opportunity is foundational for making voting a lifelong habit.

The presence of voting booths on campuses encourages students to safely exercise their voting rights. Integrating voting into the university lifestyle is a powerful way to defeat voter apathy.

Seeing the “I voted” stickers are frequent reminders of our duty to vote. On campus, voters can be physically drawn to booths—if only because their friends are voting too. The data shows that no other option would result in such a large, committed turnout from the student demographic.

Shuttering the Vote On Campus program disrupts the right to vote of a broad group of people, which is a disservice to the electoral system. Throughout history, Canadian elections have gathered consistently decreasing voter turnouts, exposing a larger failure to make voting accessible and worthwhile for everyone.

Regardless of an individual party’s political agenda, Canada needs to foster a society of citizens actively engaged in politics.

Despite all the obstacles, it’s crucial for students to vote. Votes impact policies dictating the comfort and prosperity of our future lives.

Even if the physical spaces are taken away from us, we still have the power of social media behind us. In the current technological age, Instagram stories are the new lawn signs. Expressing political ideas and supporting candidates can encourage thousands of conversations in the comments, likes, and retweets—keeping the political dialogue alive.

The voices of youth will not be silenced. Canada’s government must support programs, like Vote on Campus, that amplify the opinions of the country’s future.

—Journal Editorial Board

 

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