Union looks to create accessible election
When it comes to election time, it seems everyone, particularly young people, comes up with a reason not to vote. Everything from a lack of knowledge on election issues, to not living in one’s home riding, to not knowing where to vote are common excuses for students to avoid voting.
But in the upcoming provincial election, the Wilfrid Laurier University Students’ Union (WLUSU) is looking to eliminate any of those excuses.
Spearheaded by WLUSU policy researcher and advocacy coordinator Chris Hyde and vice president: university affairs Sean Madden, the union has created several initiatives to inform WLU students on campaign issues while making voting itself easier.
In the lead up to Oct. 6’s election day, WLUSU will be working with Elections Ontario in promotion and education, as well as hosting an all-candidates meeting tomorrow at noon in the Paul Martin Centre.
“Elections Ontario has really helped us with the ‘how to vote,’ the mechanics of voting, eliminating some of those barriers for students, whether they be informational or motivational,” said Madden. “We’ll have the usual social media rollout, we’ll have posters, cards, buttons, on site volunteers, as well as [the open forum].”
When it comes to voting on Oct. 6, students living on campus will be able to vote at polls set up in the Concourse, which will be open from 9 a.m. until 9 p.m. Students not on the voter registry will have their proof of residence taken care of by being on the residence list, meaning all they will need to vote will be a piece of photo identification.
Off campus students will be able to vote in the Concourse during two advanced polls Sept. 28th and 29th, provided they bring a piece of mail to prove their Waterloo address along with a piece of photo identification.
“One of the first things we asked of Elections Ontario was the location of the advanced polls,” said Hyde. “We didn’t want it to be across the street at St. Mike’s, we really wanted it in a more student focused area, an area they could easily access, so we’re having it in the Concourse, which is a great first step because it’s a high traffic area.”
“For students, we’re also trying to promote the advance poll for a couple reasons,” added Madden. “We’re concerned Oct. 6 will be a travel day for many students going home for Thanksgiving, but also, on Election Day, only students living in residence can vote in [the Concourse].”
According to Madden and Hyde, WLUSU is also able to provide proof of residence to students living off campus. The union is currently building a function in their website in which students can input their name and address and receive a piece of registered mail from WLUSU to serve as proof of their local residency.
Until then, any WLU student can get in touch with WLUSU and they can manually draft a piece of mail.