Why Doesn’t UNBC Have Election Polls? – NUGSS
Prince George, B.C. – The Northern Undergraduate Student Society (NUGSS) is unhappy with a decision by Elections Canada not to have election polls at the UNBC campus.
“We’re all about trying to reduce barriers that allow people to participate in exercising their democratic right,” says president Duncan Malkinson. “There are some students that don’t exactly have the same mobility or resources to make sure that they can do that.”
Despite the lack of polls on campus, Lorraine Grant, returning officer for Cariboo-Prince George, says the opportunity to vote over the stretch of this long campaign has been there.
“I’ve had ongoing conversations with Duncan about that. Our special ballot voting in this office has been available since the writ was dropped on August 2,” says Grant.
“And the hours for the office in August were 10-5 Monday-Friday. Since September 7 the hours have been 9-9 Monday-Friday, 9-6 on Saturday’s and 12-4 on Sundays.”
Malkinson says students were aware of the hours but doesn’t feel it went far enough.
“I recognize it (office hours), and we’ve been trying to publicize it, but still there are barriers that remain for students.
He says not having a poll at UNBC is especially cumbersome for students who aren’t too engaged, for those “very focused on their studies” and who don’t “have access to a vehicle.”
Malkinson adds he doesn’t see why Elections Canada couldn’t utilize ‘pop-up’ polls at the university, as was done at other campuses across the country.
“Where a representative comes and takes votes for a couple of hours,” he says.
“I did ask the returning officer here about having that option but it’s an experiment that only a few campuses have access to which is a little frustrating when you consider the principles of consistency that Elections Canada is trying to uphold.”
Malkinson adds he was not left with a strong impression of what the difficulty was in having those mobile polls.
“There’s an association of colleges and campuses in Canada that were identified based on criteria of size and how far the school is from a major metropolitan area. So there is a principled approach that tried to be undertaken but it’s still frustrating.”