City staff suggest polling station at TRU

Devan C. Tasa, Contributor  Ω

Kamloops city staff has suggested that an advance voting location be put on TRU campus in the next city election.

That suggestion was part of a series of recommendations made at the May 1 city council meeting to try to improve voter turnout in the 2014 election.

Also suggested were ideas such as moving voting locations to malls and mailing voter information cards directly to Kamloops households.

Cindy Kennedy, who was the chief electoral officer for the last election, told council the suggestions were inspired by looking at how Kelowna ran their last election.

Kelowna had 33.1 per cent of voters show up while Kamloops only had 29.8 per cent.

Kelowna had a voting location at both their local college and university, but turnout was less than expected.

Kennedy told council that Kelowna staff suggested that Kamloops have a voting location at TRU on a weekday for only a few hours.

“They did recommend that we keep it to a four-hour day just for the first time to see how it works,” she said.

At this point, the suggestions are just that — suggestions. Council will have to vote closer to the election date before they are put into action.

The recommendations in general were well received by council.

Coun. Nancy Bepple told council that TRU students are unaware of their voting rights.

She said that she’s talked to many TRU students, and though some of them were very engaged — l leaders in the student clubs, for example — they “had no idea that they were eligible to vote.”

A TRU student can vote in the election if they have lived in B.C. for six months and lived in Kamloops for 30 days.

“Most TRU students are eligible and yet they don’t know,” Bepple said. “I think that they need to be educated that they do have the right to vote in Kamloops.”

Kennedy says doing that is possible.

“We have no problems going to TRU and educating them,” she said.

“If they’re interested, we’re more than happy to be there.”

Newly elected TRUSU VP external Dylan Robinson said he was unaware of the recommendations before The Omega contacted him, but that he’s pleased with the suggestion.

“TRUSU is delighted about this recommendation made by the City of Kamloops staff, because one of our principles is that anything that makes it easier for [students] to participate in the democratic process and have their voices heard is a good thing,” he wrote via email.

Robinson said he imagines TRUSU will be following up with city staff to further discuss the issue.