More accessible voting

Chief electoral officer Michael Quinn (Tamara Gravelle/AQ)
Chief electoral officer Michael Quinn (Tamara Gravelle/AQ)

Elections New Brunswick is working to make voting easier for students.

Chief electoral officer Michael Quinn came to St. Thomas last week to talk with two first year political science classes about changes made to make voting as easy as possible for students. One of those changes is setting up polling stations on campus.

Quinn said he met with a group of students in 2007 who said students aren’t voting not because of disinterest, but because of how difficult it can be to take the time to get to a polling station and go through the process.

The group told Quinn more students would vote if Elections N.B. made it easier and more accessible for students.

“So, we put our team together and did some brainstorming. In 2010, we put a pilot project together where we put full service returning offices in four places throughout the province serving six universities or colleges,” said Quinn.

What they found, though, was the stations were not close enough in the mainstream for students.

This fall, they will be setting up a returning office in JDH for three days to make it easily available for students to vote.

They will also be hiring students to man the office.

“We’ve noticed over and over when we have students working anywhere you get a lot more energy and enthusiasm,” said Quinn. “What we want this time to have these polling locations (on campus) run almost entirely by students.”

Quinn said voter turnout among students is low and there are a lot of theories behind it, such as voter apathy or not having the time, but the only thing they can do is make it as easy as possible for students.

“You can’t reach the people who just don’t want to vote,” said Quinn. “You can make them aware of the program and make it as easy as possible and that’s it.”

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