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Fair Elections Act complicates student voting

Because of concerns of election fraud during the 2011 federal election, the Conservative government enacted bill C-23, the Fair Elections Act. The bill has led to some additional obstacles for students when getting to the polls.

One change that particularly affects students is the elimination of vouching.

JP Lewis, assistant professor in the department of History and Politics at UNBSJ said, “The Fair Elections Act was a controversial bill that the Conservative government passed into law in 2014. The legislation amended a number of aspects of the Canada Elections Act and most significantly for student voters, the elimination of vouching.”

Vouching was convenient for those who had no ID with their current address. Without ID proving you are from a specific riding, voting is impossible.

“Simply, someone with proper ID from the polling area could vouch for someone without ID with their current address and they could vote,” said Lewis.

In the past, voters have been able to use their voter identification card as valid ID to vote. Now, this method of identification is not accepted. The UNBSU recognizes that this can be an issue for students who have just moved to Fredericton and wish to vote.

Travis Daley, vice-pesident external of the UNBSU said that the Student Union is using the Get Out the Vote campaign to inform students about voting.

“We’ve also worked with Res Life to make sure there were mail outs for all students in residence, confirming their address can be Fredericton or if students prefer, the can vote for their home riding,” he said.

Lists of different accepted identifications have been posted in all residences. Any document from an institution addressed to you and has your address can be used as a piece of identification to vote. Such as a credit card bill, a letter from UNB or a lease.

UNB is also part of a pilot project of Elections Canada. From Oct. 5-8 there will be a special poll box in the SUB. There will also be a poll on election day, Oct. 19.

“We’re working to regulate most of the obstacles, we have polls on campus this year in the SUB … We have been given a special ballot poll; Election Canada is doing a pilot project with different universities across Canada. We’re fortunate to have one of them,” Daley said.

Students trained by elections Canada will staff a polling station in the SUB. Students can vote for any riding at this polling station from Oct. 5 to the 8, but they may only vote for the Fredericton riding on Oct. 19.

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