Home CommentaryEditorial Elections Canada fumbles

Elections Canada fumbles

by The Concordian October 13, 2015

Why’d you have to go and make voting so complicated?

It’s well documented that students are bad at voting. It’s not that we have a problem drawing check-marks or an x, it’s just that life is terrible. Between classes, registering to vote for the first time, homework, part-time jobs, trying to unravel party platforms’ meanings, essays and whatever bad luck life decides to throw at us, voting can feel like a pain in the ass.

It doesn’t help that Elections Canada has been dropping the ball this year. They’re the people charged with making the exercise of democratic rights as painless as possible, and we’re seeing lots of people, students in particular, working up a sweat.

Politicians have learned how to tweet, take snaps and make Vines. Apps have adapted to organize voter information to tablets, smartphones, and likely Google Glass too. So why has Elections Canada not evolved similarly?

Voting by text message is probably too much to ask for (and would likely be a fraudster’s dream) but that doesn’t mean voting shouldn’t be as easy as possible. Advance polling days and absentee ballots have done a lot to increase the opportunities we have to vote but keeping the public informed about all these options—especially students who place a premium on attention—is quite a task.

Still, these are things we’ve all learned to live with. The situation gets worse when you add on Elections Canada spreading misinformation.

On Oct. 8, Concordia students received internal emails saying campus polling stations would be open to all students before Oct. 19, not just students living in the campus ridings: Ville-Marie—Le Sud-Ouest—Île-des-Sœurs and Notre-Dame-de-Grâce–Westmount. This is pretty big deal if you’re from out of town, because one less ounce of stress in an already complicated student life is worth its weight in gold.

But as it turns out, this information, which Concordia says they were given from Elections Canada, was wrong.

An email sent out on Friday afternoon stated that the university was initially told that all staff, faculty and students eligible to vote in the federal election could cast their ballots on campus during the early voting period, no matter the riding they were registered in. In actual fact, the advance polling station in the LB building was restricted to those living in the Ville-Marie–Le Sud-Ouest–Île-des-Sœurs ridings and whose Voter Information Cards listed the LB Building as an advance polling station, according to an email from the university sent to students on Friday afternoon.

Because of the miscommunication, early voting at the LB Building was open to students registered in all ridings between Oct. 5 and Oct. 8, but did not continue through Oct. 12.

Now first-time-voters and other Concordians in the least-likely-to-vote demographic are all in a tizzy. Elections Canada, tasked with ensuring free-and-fair democratic elections happen, is harming the chances of students voting.

Clear and straightforward information would be appreciated so students know exactly when, where and how they can cast their vote. We’re tasked with decoding politicians’ platforms already, and that’s more than enough misinformation to go around.

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