26 Sep How to Vote: A Student Handbook
In case you haven’t heard, the Canadian Federal Election is taking place on Monday, October 21st, which is less than a month away. As the semester ramps up, and two of the best fall holidays are at the forefront of our agenda (Thanksgiving and Queen’s Hoco), preparing to vote might be placed on the backburner. However, voting is a very important part of our society and government, and as the younger generation being handed all the problems created by our predecessors, it is more imperative than ever that we cast our votes.
Why should you vote? Well, for starters, it is our right. Democracy is not a universal construct, and there are many countries and minorities in the world right now that do not have this privilege. It is not something to be taken for granted. Our vote now will affect our future. We might not be thinking about taxes or real estate or healthcare at the moment, but these are topics that we will definitely care about a few years from now. Who we choose to represent us will lay the groundwork for future laws, bills, and structures. As university students, we have the most to gain. We are at the beginning of our adult lives, and the decisions that are made now are going to impact us the most. Young people have been proven as the ones to drive change (just look at Greta’s influence over the recent climate conversation in New York this past week).
One major barrier students face during elections is not understanding where or how to vote. Luckily, MUSE is here to answer all your questions.
Am I eligible?
If you are a Canadian citizen aged 18 or older and registered to vote (register here if you haven’t or need to double check) you can cast a ballot.
What do I bring with me?
Something that proves your identity and current address. Basically, you need to be similarly equipped as you would be going to Stages. The easiest option is a driver’s licence or health card. Don’t have either? Here is a list of other ID options you can bring with you.
What’s this talk about ridings?
A riding is a governmentally determined district in which you live in and have your own representative in Parliament. You will choose this individual with your vote. In Canada, we have 338 ridings (find yours here) federally, and they differ from provincial/territorial elections.
How do I vote as a student?
There are various routes you can take for voting. The first is advanced polling, which conveniently falls over Thanksgiving weekend (October 11th, 12th, 13th and 14th). If you are going home for the holiday, you can go to your local Elections Canada office (find out where that is here) and vote as you would on the actual election day. If you want to do advanced polling but aren’t home for it, you can apply to vote by mail.
If you want to vote for the local Kingston MP, you can vote in the Kingston riding by registering your student address (including residence buildings) as your home with valid identification that confirms that is your address. Then you would vote at the local polling station (for us, it is St Mark’s Lutheran Church, 263 Victoria Street) as normal.
If you want to maintain your permanent address and vote for your home MP, you can do so by voting by Special Ballot on campus. Queen’s is hosting their special ballot process October 5th, 6th, 7th, 8th and 9th at the Athletics and Recreation Centre (ARC) in rooms QC Room 2 A505 and QC506. Times are listed in the image below. All you need to do is bring valid ID. For more information about voting on campus through special ballot, see this webpage.
When will I know the candidates in my riding?
Most candidates have already been announced, but potential candidates have until Monday September 30th at 2pm to file nominations. You can find the list of all your local candidates here. There is a chance that parties won’t be represented in your riding, and this may be because they might not want to run in your riding or cannot find a candidate.
Can I get time off work or school to vote?
As students, we have a pretty flexible schedule, especially if you are an Arts student. However, by law every employer has to give their employees three consecutive hours while polls are open to vote on election day. So if you have a long shift or back to back classes, bring this up with your boss or professor.
Can I take a selfie with my ballot?
No. Not only is it illegal (punishable by fine or jail time), it’s also going to be in a crowded space with poor lighting. Hold yourself to higher standards (we say this with love).
How does someone win the election?
The party who wins the most seats (i.e. the most ridings) becomes the ruling governmental party, and their leader will become the Prime Minister. In order to win a majority government, a party needs 170 seats. A minority government is won by the party that gets less than 170 seats but still has the most. A minority government must rely on the support of other parties to stay in office, which may mean forming coalitions or giving up certain projects based off of the beliefs of the other parties they are working with.
If you are still struggling to decide which party to vote for, the CBC has crafted a “Vote Compass,” which is a tool developed by political scientists to map out how your views align with the parties in play. If you still need more detail, don’t be afraid to reach out to local candidates to better understand their platforms, or strike up a conversation with a PoliSci major in the Cogro line. Just as long as you vote.
Header Image Source: govote.org