Mixed reaction to campus polling stations

Some students welcome convenience, others see no need to vote

A single voter waits in line at the campus polling station at the Nova Scotia Community College’s Waterfront campus as other students pass by. (Photo: Chengcheng Shen)

Elections Nova Scotia set up polling stations at 21 university and college campuses across the province for this fall’s election, to get more students voting.

But some students say accessibility is not the problem.

Ceighlyn Dawe, a psychology student at Dalhousie, wants more help from her university when it comes to picking a candidate.

“If they (the university) just educated us on how to vote and the backgrounds of the candidates, what they would do for us, I’d be more drawn to vote.”

In the 2009 provincial election, the voter registration rate in the 18-24 age bracket was the lowest of all the age groups, says Elections Nova Scotia. The figures for this year’s election will be released in November.

Lars Goodman, student vote coordinator with Elections Nova Scotia, says enabling students to vote on campus eliminates some of the inconveniences.

Students “like being able to vote in their home district,” he says, “but if they weren’t able to vote on campus, they wouldn’t be going home on election day just to vote, so there are people that would not have voted that are voting.”

Goodman says election officials on campus update the voters’ list to avoid duplication.

But this doesn’t give Emerald Wells a good reason to mark her X. A second-year student at the Nova Scotia Community College’s Institute of Technology in Halifax, she’s disenchanted with politicians.

Nova Scotia Community College student Emerald Wells says she’d rather study for her courses than research candidates because she thinks politicians will say whatever they want to get elected. (Photo: Chengcheng Shen)

“I don’t feel like any party is better than the other when it comes to what they are going to do for the community.”

Wells says her vote won’t make a difference because whoever goes into office is going to break their promises.

Yvon Grenier, a political science professor at St. Francis Xavier University, says as young people vote less and less, politicians do not feel the urge to pay much attention to them.

“Parties are not doing as well as they used to in terms of representing their constituents, channeling demands from electors, aggregating interests.”

Only 186 of the more than 1,400 eligible voters at the community college took advantage of the two-day poll on the Waterfront campus, says Goodman. And that number includes faculty members who voted.

But for students who see voting as their civic duty, the campus polling stations added an incentive to take part.

“I do think making it easier and more convenient especially for students who have really busy life is really going to help,” says Emmy Falkenham, who studies health information management at the college.

Falkenham says she had a long conversation with her cousin, who majors in political sciences, to sort out which party to vote for.

“I don’t know if it’s indifference or laziness that prevents people from going out and taking advantage of this opportunity that we have as Canadians.”

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