2,833 students across New Brunswick showed up to vote at the advanced on-campus polls in last week’s provincial election. Of these voters, 636 came from UNB Fredericton.
Paul Harpelle, director of communications at Elections NB, is calling it a success.
“It’s a positive story. We did quite well in the vote collection on all the campuses and we actually picked up 2,833 votes across the province and in my opinion those are 2,833 votes that we may not have gotten,” Harpelle said.
The advanced student voting program spanned 13 campuses throughout the week leading up to the election.
The program, first introduced in the 2010 provincial election, allowed New Brunswick students to vote for either their home riding or the riding of their post-secondary institution. While the voter turnout was only slightly higher this time around, Harpelle said it was still significant because the advanced polls weren’t open for as long.
“And the bottom line is we were also able to make voting available and the opportunity available to more campuses and more students,” he said.
Harpelle said he expects the program will continue in future elections. Next time, they may look into having the polls open on Election Day.
“That’s one of the things I did hear were people saying they wish we’d had the campus vote still running on Election Day,” Harpelle said.
“But we have to look at the logistics because we’re giving students a chance to vote for other electoral districts. We had to make sure we had time to get the ballots back to the proper locations.”
UNBSU president Greg Bailey was also pleased with the voter turnout.
“I assume it’ll take them a while to crunch the numbers to give us an idea of how many young people actually voted but the turnout we had on campus was mind-blowing,” he said.
“I see this as part of a permanent program for Elections NB. It’s definitely well-received by the students on the campus. The student representative council is very eager to see this and I know that they too would like to see it continue,” Harpelle said.