“Notes from Council” is The Gateway’s ongoing series of recaps of noteworthy items from Students’ Council meetings.
Get Out The Vote coordinator encourages student participation in elections
To encourage student participation in upcoming elections Jasmine Li, Get Out The Vote (GOTV) coordinator and second-year science student at the University of Alberta, presented to the Students’ Council on September 7.
She began her presentation by giving an overview of the upcoming elections. She mentioned the Canadian federal election taking place September 20 and the Edmonton municipal election taking place October 18.
Following her overview of election dates, Li discussed who is eligible to vote. For the federal election, individuals who are Canadian citizens, 18 years old or older, and registered are eligible to vote. According to Li, there are three ways to vote in the federal election.
“There is in-person [voting], [voting] by mail, and [voting] by advanced polls,” she explained. “In-person polling can be done at your nearest Elections Canada office anytime before 6:00 p.m. local time. If you prefer to vote by mail, you can apply to do so no later than 6:00 p.m. Eastern Time on September 14. Advanced polling days are on September 10, September 11, September 12, and September 13.”
Advance polls for Edmonton will be located at the St. Anthony Meeting Center at 10425 84 Ave. NW. For in-person or advanced voting, identification with the voter’s full name and current address is required.
For the municipal action, Li described the requirements as “quite similar to the federal election.”
“You need to be at least 18 years old and a Canadian citizen, but you also need to be a resident of Edmonton as of election day,” she explained. “In-person voting for the municipal election is October 18 from 9:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m..”
“Advanced voting will be happening October 4 to 13 from 1:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. including Thanksgiving Monday.”
For those who cannot vote on advanced polling days or on election day, there is a special ballot available.
After covering the logistics of the elections, Li discussed why voting turnout among students was important. She pointed out 18 to 35 year-olds make up the largest voting bloc in Canada, but historically have had a lower voter turnout than the national average.
“One major reason [it is important to vote] is that 18 to 35 year-olds now make up the largest voting bloc in Canada, making up approximately 37 per cent of the population,” she said. “In the 2015 federal election 57 per cent of 18 to 35-year-olds voted… which was still below the national average.”
Li also mentioned the responsibility students hold in making their voices heard.
“Voting is an important civic responsibility and student voices are important in shaping policies that will affect their education, as the University of Alberta is a public institution and policy will affect their future as a whole,” Li said. “If future governments see that students and young people have a large turnout and are voting, they will be more responsive to student concerns within their platforms.”
“It is important that students go out, vote, and show what they believe to be important to them as well as other young people.”
Students’ Union receives criticism on student handbooks
Andrew Batycki, an engineering councillor, brought forward some of the feedback he received on the UASU handbooks distributed at Week of Welcome. According to Batycki, students were unhappy with the contents within the handbook, preferring a larger planner section.
“The overarching feedback that I received, along with some of the other councillors at this table, is that students weren’t happy with the handbooks,” Batycki said. “There were fewer coupons in them, they were smaller, and literally one person came up to me and was holding it was like, ‘where is the planner, I can’t find it,’ and once I showed her, she was like ‘oh, this is disappointing’ and just set it down and walked away.”
“I just wanted to raise this — I don’t know who makes the handbooks — but I think that this should be considered next year when they make them. Students didn’t receive them well this year.”
In response, Rowan Ley, president of the Students’ Union, explained the decision for a smaller planner stemmed from feedback from the previous year.
“My understanding is that we received a lot of feedback [last year] that very few people were actually using the planner, and because it took up a lot of space and every page is expensive to print, that is the reason the planner was [smaller],” Ley said. “We can discuss it with the marketing team and look into potentially reinstating [a larger] planner [for next year].”