UVic won’t host regional advance poll for civic elections

Though many UVic students live on campus or in the surrounding Saanich communities, a lot commute from Victoria and Oak Bay on a daily basis, Sherlock said. Having an advance poll on campus where students living in any of these municipalities could vote would allow for better political engagement.

  • Oct. 3, 2011 5:00 a.m.

Engaging young voters will be just as challenging this year for municipal politicians as in years past, after the University of Victoria Students’ Society’s hopes of acquiring a regional advance voting booth were doused by the municipalities.

Dylan Sherlock, a director with the UVSS, says he was told last week that there weren’t enough resources to allow for the Saanich campus to host a joint Victoria-Oak Bay-Saanich advance poll.

“Unfortunately when it comes to issues like democracy, municipalities move at a slow pace, and this probably requires a lot more advanced planning,” Sherlock acknowledged. “I know (the idea) has made a considerable impact on the discussions among politicians in Victoria. A lot of them have said they’re interested in this idea.”

Though many UVic students live on campus or in the surrounding Saanich communities, a lot commute from Victoria and Oak Bay on a daily basis, Sherlock said. Having an advance poll on campus where students living in any of these municipalities could vote would allow for better political engagement.

Carrie MacPhee, Saanich’s deputy chief elections officer said the decision was made jointly after lengthy discussions with elections officers in Victoria and Oak Bay.

“With the resources we have this year we can’t add special voting opportunities. If we do it for UVic we must do it for the (two Camosun campuses and all high density areas),” she said. “What we hope to do, in conjunction with city staff, is meet with the UVic Students’ Society to talk about what we can do to help them improve communication about the election.”

Victoria’s deputy chief elections officer, Don Schaffer, said the Local Government Act does allow for an advance poll outside of jurisdictional boundaries, “but you have to be able to make it work. We didn’t think that was possible right now. Without considerably more planning and thought, we decided it wasn’t going to work out.”

Saanich mayoral candidate David Cubberley says the decision “sends the wrong message” to a group of young people showing they’re interested in municipal politics.

“There should be a commitment (from municipalities) to expand opportunities for democracy to students,” he said. “Students are among the least likely to participate. … One of the reasons that people don’t vote is they’re not aware of the election process, there isn’t a direct connection to adequately inform them that the chance to vote is coming.”

Mayor Frank Leonard says he was open to the idea, saying if more time is needed to establish an advance poll, then staff should begin looking ahead to the next election in 2014.

“Students will still have the opportunity to use the poll at Campus View elementary school – it’s as close to UVic as most residents are to (their nearest polling station),” he said. “Certainly we’ll be encouraging those who live on campus to use that poll. And those who live throughout the municipality, we’ll make them aware of the polling stations.”

Oak Bay Coun. Tara Ney strongly supported the idea when Sherlock spoke to that municipality’s council in June.

“The more accessible we make our places where people can vote, the better. And we really want to engage this age group,” she said. “I think it’s really too bad, especially when we have young people coming forward and wanting to open the door here and we can’t make this happen.”

Though disappointed, Sherlock says he appreciates that the municipalities are helping the UVSS figure out strategies to engage students in different ways.

“The fact that this is a strange idea, that (a regional advance poll) hasn’t been proposed throughout many municipalities in the country speaks to a grave issue in our democracy,” he said. “We’re going to need to step up voter engagement on the campus so students who live on and off campus feel enfranchised.”

kslavin@saanichnews.com

A student’s decision

Anyone who has lived in B.C. for at least six months (as of Nov. 19) is eligible to vote in the municipal election.

Students who have come from elsewhere in the province to study in Greater Victoria must decide if they want to vote here or in their “home” municipality.

“You can only vote in one municipality, so as a student, you have to decide if this is your new home or if you’re going to vote where you came from,” MacPhee said.

For more information, visit www.municipalelections.com.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Carolyn Howe, a kindergarten teacher and vice president of the Greater Victoria Teachers’ Association, says educators are feeling the strain of the COVID-19 pandemic and the influx of pressure that comes with it. (Nina Grossman/News Staff)
Stress leave, tears and insomnia: Greater Victoria teachers feel the strain of COVID-19

One year in, teachers still adjusting to mask and cleaning rules, pressure from families

Richard Pierce is the Goldstream Gazette’s 2021 Unsung Hero of the Year. (Don Denton/Black Press Media)
Navy veteran helping others cope with post-traumatic stress disorder

Rich Pearce is the West Shore 2021 Unsung Hero

The value of new construction in North Saanich topped $52.1 million in 2020 (Peninsula News Review)
Value of new construction in North Saanich topped $52.1 million in 2020

New figures also show 25 per cent increase in number of new secondary suites

Various Victoria locations were hit with a slew of anti-bylaw graffiti Wednesday. This image has been altered to cover up profane language. (Submitted photo)
UPDATED: Slew of anti-bylaw graffiti an ‘unacceptable’ form of communication says Victoria mayor, police

Downtown businesses, bylaw office and Ministry of Finance vandalized Wednesday morning

Dr. Bonnie Henry talk about the next steps in B.C.'s COVID-19 Immunization Plan during a press conference at Legislature in Victoria, B.C., on Friday, January 22, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
456 new COVID-19 cases in B.C., 2 deaths

Since January 2020, 78,278 have tested positive for the novel coronavirus in B.C.

Anyone with information on any of these individuals is asked to call 1-800-222-TIPS (8477) or visit the website victoriacrimestoppers.ca for more information.
Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers wanted list for the week of Feb. 23

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

(Black Press Media File Photo)
POLL: Are you struggling with Greater Victoria’s cost of housing?

While Victoria remains one of the most expensive cities in the country… Continue reading

A health-care worker prepares a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at a UHN COVID-19 vaccine clinic in Toronto on Thursday, January 7, 2021. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette)
Vaccinating essential workers before seniors in B.C. could save lives: experts

A new study says the switch could also save up to $230 million in provincial health-care costs

Photograph By @KAYLAXANDERSON
VIDEO: Lynx grabs lunch in Kamloops

A lynx surprises a group of ducks and picks one off for lunch

When his owner had knee surgery, Kevin, 2, was able to continue to go for walks thanks to volunteers from Elder Dog Canada. (Contributed photo)
B.C. woman has nothing but praise for Elder Dog Canada

National organization has a fleet of volunteer walkers ready, but needs more clients to serve

Two women were arrested in Nanaimo for refusing to wear masks and causing disturbance on a BC Ferries vessel. (File photo)
B.C. ferry passengers arrested and fined for disturbance, refusing to wear masks

Police said woman threatened their pensions in Feb. 21 incident aboard Nanaimo-bound boat

A Nanaimo RCMP vehicle in the Woodgrove Centre parking lot. (News Bulletin file photo)
Woman groped by stranger in mall parking lot in Nanaimo

Incident happened near bus loop Saturday, Feb. 20, at about 4:45 p.m.

The late Michael Gregory, 57, is accused of sexually exploiting six junior high students between 1999 and 2005. (Pixabay)
Former Alberta teacher accused of sexually assaulting students found dead in B.C.

Mounties say Michael Gregory’s death has been deemed ‘non-suspicious’

Most Read