Students and Democracy

September 9, 2009

Voting is the basis of our democracy, the political act that gives the actions of the government their legitimacy and power. Unfortunately our most recent provincial election saw only 40.6% of eligible voters coming out to the polls and even fewer young Albertans. The democratic system itself is partially to blame for this poor turnout, particularly among post-secondary students. There are numerous barriers for students to get through in order to vote.

Fortunately, there are some clear and easy changes that the Government of Alberta and Elections Alberta can do before the next provincial election to make it easier for post-secondary students to vote. The Council of Alberta University Students (CAUS), representing students at the University of Alberta, the University of Calgary, and the University of Lethbridge are making five recommendations to break down the barriers to voting by Alberta’s post-secondary students.

  • Allow students to choose between their home during studies and their family home to be their ordinary residence;

  • Establish advance voting stations for multiple constituencies on post-secondary campuses;

  • Permit advance voting for all electoral divisions at any returning office as well as at any advance voting station;

  • Select returning officers earlier in the electoral process; and

  • Have Elections Alberta and individual returning officers work with students’ unions to increase communications with students and encourage voter turnout among students.

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