Tribune Explains: Student voting

Election season in Canada is underway once again. For many McGill students, it may be the first time they are eligible to vote; however, many still do not get to the polls. Lisa Drouillard, Director of Outreach and Stakeholder Engagement at Elections Canada, broke down student voter eligibility into simple terms while emphasizing the need for young people to vote.

Am I eligible to vote?

“There are only three questions [to determine who can vote],” Drouillard said. “Are you going to be over 18 on Election Day? Are you a Canadian citizen? Do you have enough ID to prove your identity and where you live?”

Since ID can be a barrier for many youth voters, Elections Canada currently accepts a variety of documents, including your driver’s licence and your McGill ID, as valid forms of ID at the polls. Even if you don’t have any acceptable documents, a friend with appropriate ID living in the same electoral district can vouch for you as long as you declare your identity and address in writing.

Where can I go to vote?

With your valid ID in hand, knowing where to go is the next important step. The location of your polling place depends on which constituency you choose to vote in. Like many McGill students living away from home, you may have two addresses: A Montreal address and the address of a family home. 

In federal elections, you are allowed to vote for whichever district you identify more closely with, as long as you have sufficient ID to prove it. This means that even if Quebec may consider you as someone from out-of-province, you are allowed to vote for your riding in Montreal. 

If you wish to vote for candidates from your Montreal address, you must go to your riding’s designated poll either on election day, Monday, Oct. 21. or on advanced polling days, from Oct. 11–14. To determine where to vote, simply go to the Voter Information Service and search using your Montreal postal code. 

If you decide to vote in your home riding’s election and cannot make it to the designated polls on election day or advanced polling days, you can go to any Vote on Campus location from Oct. 5–9. In the McGill area, the Vote on Campus locations are La Citadelle, New Residence Hall, and Our Lady of Salette Church. If you cannot make it to any of the Vote on Campus locations but still wish to vote for your home riding, you can go to any Elections Canada office before Oct. 15. The offices nearest McGill are 4019 Notre-Dame Street West by Place Saint-Henri metro station and 2120 Rue Sherbrooke East at the corner of Sherbrooke and De Lorimier. 

How exactly can I vote?

Once you enter the booth, you will be given a list of candidates that are running for your specific riding, rather than the party leaders you may have familiarized yourself with. It is imperative to know your candidates beforehand, especially if you are voting at a Vote on Campus location or at an Elections Canada office, since you will fill out a special ballot and will have to write in the specific candidate you choose to vote for. Furthermore, you need to ensure that you spell the candidates’ names correctly. Learning about who is running in your riding is very easy: You can find the names of each candidate and their party affiliation by searching the district you plan to vote for in the Voter Information Service portal.

Interested students can also help others in the community vote by applying to work at any of the polling stations near McGill through Elections Canada.

“Demand for [working at] Vote on Campus and advanced polling stations is still pretty high,” Drouilland said. “It’s nice short term work […], and a nice opportunity to get service and administrative experience.”

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