Nova Scotia

University polls open so students can vote in home ridings

For the first time, post-secondary students away from their home province or riding can cast their ballots at schools and some YMCA locations across the country—just make sure you have the proper documents.

Elections Canada set up 39 polling stations to make it easier for students to vote

There are 39 student polls set up at different campuses and YMCA locations across Canada. (CBC)

Canadian university students who have moved away for school can vote for a candidate in their home riding for the first time.

Elections Canada set up polling stations at 39 campuses and YMCAs Monday. The sites include two at Dalhousie University (Student Union Building and LeMarchant Street Residence), and one at the Patrick Power Library at Saint Mary's University.  

It's aimed at making it easier for students to votes, but anyone can cast a ballot at the special polls between now and Thursday.

The initiative in Halifax was undertaken by the Nova Scotia chapter of the Canadian Federation of Students and the Dalhousie Student Union.

Both are encouraging students to make their voices heard in this federal election.

'The stakes have never been higher'

"The stakes for students have never been higher with issues like tuition fees, youth underemployment and unemployment, they need to combat sexual violence at a federal level," said Michaela Sam, chair of Nova Scotia's chapter of the Canadian Federation of Students.

"Students are going to be the game changers this election. Having the ability to vote on campus is a new thing for students and it's a project we hope to see continue moving forward.

John Hutton, a Dalhousie Student Union vice president, was handing election leaflets around campus Monday.

"It's been a really good reception and we're seeing a really big line on the first day," said Hutton.

About 38 percent of post-secondary students voted in the 2011 federal election.

Students at the Dalhousie polling stations say the convenience of voting at school makes a difference.

"If this station wasn't here, I don't know if I would have voted because I might not have had the opportunity to go back home," said Megan Breckon, a Dalhousie student originally from Kingston, N.S.

What you need

Voters need one piece of government-issued photo ID, such as a driver's license, or two pieces of ID, one of which must include the voter's current address.

Examples of usable ID to prove address include:

  • Phone bills 
  • Credit card statements 
  • Prescription labels
  • e-Invoices from Amazon.

Health cards, birth certificates and ID bracelets from nursing homes can be used as one piece of ID.

For a complete list, go to Elections Canada's webite

Matthew Perkins-McVey went to the campus polling station with his Nova Scotia government-issued ID and his passport, but as both didn't list his current address, he was not able to vote.

"I'll bring a power bill or something," said Perkins-McVey.

He says the fact students can vote at school should make a difference.

"They have to make the active choice, 'No, I'm deciding not to vote.' The whole argument of 'I'm too busy' just doesn't make sense."

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