Voter turnout at advanced polls on New Brunswick campuses increased by 19 per cent this year, according to St. Thomas University Students’ Union vice-president education Emma Walsh.
Walsh said 444 people used the advance polls on the St. Thomas University and the New Brunswick Community College campuses. The polls were at STU’s campus for four days and at the NBCC campus for one. Faculty, staff and students could vote at the polls on campus.
“I don’t think many people went to [NBCC] was my understanding from who we were talking with, so the majority of those would probably have come from STU,” said Walsh.
Kira Chisholm, a fourth-year English and political science student was an elections ambassador with Elections New Brunswick. Ambassadors were paid to oversee the 18 Get Out the Vote volunteers and help arrange events with STUSU and Elections New Brunswick.
This year was Chisholm’s first time voting. The position allowed her to meet new people while teaching them about voting.
She said the early start of the GOTV campaign helped encourage students to vote.
“The big thing that really made a difference was the campaign started pretty early and we had a lot of presence all through the day, all through the week,” said Chisholm.
Chisholm believes STU students are politically aware, which helped increase turnout at the polls.
“I think especially at STU, people are kind of politically aware and they care about issues and clearly this is a place where people are passionate about social issues,” said Chisholm.
“When the election came around, it was already kind of on everyone’s minds. Everyone was kind of talking about it, and then we had so many events on campus and there was a lot of buzz going on.”
Fourth-year student Monica Boucher pledged to vote before casting her ballot for the first time. Boucher, who moved to New Brunswick from Florida when she was five, was always told if she voted she’d lose her dual citizenship.
“I was really upset that I wasn’t using my right to vote, especially as a woman,” said Boucher.
She said the GOTV campaign helped her understand her rights and encouraged her to vote.
“I was asking them a lot of questions because it was my first time voting and I was just making sure like, ‘Am I actually able to? Is this legal?’” said Boucher.
Manuel Garcia, a third-year student from Nicaragua, was also an elections ambassador.
Garcia said voters were encouraged by politicians talking with them and listening to their concerns.
“This was actually the first democratic process I took part in ever. This experience for me was the first time I saw a debate,” he said.
Garcia agrees with Chisholm that STU students are politically involved and he believes it further pushed them to cast their vote.
“I think we actually did a pretty good job engaging students, although I think it’s not hard to do that at STU because I think that we’re a very political university.”