Students forced to leave campus to vote

Devin C. Tasa, Omega Contributor  Ω

Those wanting to vote in November’s civic elections will have to leave campus to vote at a polling station – unless the Thompson Rivers University Student Union (TRUSU) gets its way.

“We’ve sent a letter to the city asking if it would be possible to have a polling station at TRU,” Nathan Lane, the student society’s executive director said.

That’s unlikely to happen according to Cindy Kennedy, chief elections officer for the city of Kamloops.

Adding a polling station “is a decision made by the chief elections officer early in the (election planning) process, around (February, March or April of an election year),” Kennedy said.

Generally, Kamloops polling stations are located in schools as the city can use the space without charge in exchange for conducting the election of school trustees.

After the decision is made, the city hires around 200 staff to conduct the election, said Kennedy.

The TRUSU is concerned that students won’t be able “to make it to other polling stations in the city,” said Lane.

Having a polling station on campus “would encourage [students] and staff to vote in the election.”

To Lane’s knowledge, there has never been a civic, provincial, or federal polling station on campus.

TRUSU isn’t the only student government body that asked for an on-campus polling station.

The University of Victoria Student Society (UVSS) also approached the cities of Victoria, Oak Bay, and Saanich for an on-campus polling station.

The cities rejected the request.

“The reasoning that we got was it was the lack of resources,” said Dylan Sherlock, a UVSS director.

“We will hopefully have it in place for the 2014 elections and we have a whole bunch of both local politicians and city officials who are saying that’s a thing they’d want to do.”

If the TRUSU, like the UVSS, has to wait until the 2014 election, the student society should write a letter asking for an on-campus polling station in November or December 2013, said Kennedy.

At press time, there were two universities in British Columbia that have confirmed that they will have an on-campus poll for the civic election: the University of Northern British Columbia in Prince George and the University of British Columbia – Okanagan in Kelowna.

To vote in the Kamloops civic election, one must be a Canadian citizen, have been a resident of British Columbia for six months, and have been a resident of Kamloops for 30 days.

Citizens must also take two pieces of identification. Voting takes place from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Nov. 19.