Students are adding ballots to their back-to-school shopping lists this fall after Prime Minister Justin Trudeau called for a snap election for Monday, Sept. 20.
Despite a country-wide push this summer, Elections Canada made the decision not to put polls on campus this year. This means that to vote, St. Thomas University students will have to make the trek to vote with the general public at the polls.
Where students can vote depends on their current postal code. For Harrington and Holy Cross residents, the polling location is the Wu Conference Centre at the University of New Brunswick. Rigby Hall residents can vote at the Forest Hill United Church on 45 Kimble Court.
“It definitely makes things a little harder, not impossible, but harder,” said Maggie Jardine, a third-year STU student honouring in political science. “I feel like students are so busy that just being able to come into [James Dunn Hall], vote and leave is so quick.”
Before coming to school, Jardine was planning to vote in the federal election but was quickly reminded how busy those first weeks of school can get.
“You are getting into stuff and you have all this other stuff going on and then it’s like, ‘oh, it’s the election,’” said Jardine.
As a political science major, Jardine said she has written enough papers on democratic engagement to believe you have to vote to be an informed citizen. For her, it is worth going out of her way to get a say in her government.
“You can’t complain unless you actually vote,” said Jardine.
Sydona Chandon, vice-president of education for STU Students’ Union, is leading the Get of the Vote campaign on campus. Its mission is to increase student voter turnout by sharing key information like where and how to vote.
“This year there are 2.1 million [students] eligible to vote,” said Chandon. “Two million students have the capacity to make a big difference in this election.”
Starting the first week of classes, the Get Out the Vote booth was stationed at the Black Box Theatre in JDH. Chandon saw many excited students stop by over the last two weeks to pick up pamphlets, stickers and hand sanitizers from Elections Canada.
She has been active on STUSU’s social media, asking students what questions they have for their candidates and posting maps to the polls.
“The elected government has a direct impact on financial aid, proper housing, work permits and ensuring there is equitable access to resources for students — so it is very vital that we do use our voice,” said Chandon.
On Monday at 10 a.m. and 2 p.m., Get out the Vote organizers are walking students to their respective polling stations in Fredericton. That night they will also host an election watch party in the OC lounge at 9 p.m.
“I feel like students are engaged and ready to use their voice to cast their vote this year,” said Chandon.