PHOTO: UNSPLASH

Members of the Calgary Student Alliance are asking Elections Calgary to reverse their decision removing the “vote anywhere” advance poll options for this fall’s municipal election.

In the 2017 municipal election, Calgarians had the option to vote at advance poll locations throughout the city, as well as most post-secondary institutions. This isn’t being offered this year due to concerns over the COVID-19 pandemic, among other issues. 

The group gathered at City Hall Tuesday to call for more advance poll options in the city. They were joined by Coun. Evan Woolley who said he also wants to see the Elections Calgary decision reversed.

Students feel that including advance poll options on campuses is important for any municipality.

“We are really disappointed that Elections Calgary has chosen not to have the “vote anywhere” stations. It’s a step backwards for the City of Calgary,” said Marley Gillies, chair of the Calgary Student Alliance and Vice President External at the University of Calgary Students Union.

The Student Alliance wants to work with Elections Calgary to bring advance poll stations back to post-secondary institution campuses, she said.

“Voting among youth is something that is already so important, and is something we want to encourage and empower to increase voter turnout,” Gillies said.

The lives of students are busy ones, often students study full-time, have part-time or full-time jobs and they’re supporting a family or caring for someone, she added, noting advance polling more than tripled in the 2017 election. 

“To not have them is a huge step back backwards and will definitely depress voter turnout.”

Austin Deck, Director of External Affairs at Bow Valley College, says engaging students through advance polls on school campuses promotes the importance of the democratic process and voting.

“When you’re on campus and you see a “vote anywhere” station, and you know you can vote there regardless of where you live — it becomes 10 times more real,” said Deck.

This helps a lot of students cast their vote, when without these options they probably wouldn’t have voted at all, he said.

“We’re seeing a lot of younger voters become more engaged,” Deck said. “This election is going to shape the next four years of Calgary.”

The significance of the election for the people between the ages of 18 and 28 is because these votes will decide the future of properties, schools and campuses, Deck said.