Voting 201: A how to guide for dummies, students and the infirm

By ├ćndrew Rininsland

It’s no secret voter turnout among the 18-20-year-old demographic is pretty low, with the most commonly used statistic being the 22 per cent in 2000 from a survey commissioned by Elections Canada. The same survey also lists “apathy/lack of interest” and “attention turned elsewhere” as a reason why 30 per cent of those voters didn’t go to the polls. “Lack of knowledge and information” accounted for five per cent. So, in case you missed the enormous posters plastered all over the MacEwan Student Centre detailing how easy it is to vote, here is what you need to do in order to cast your ballot on Mon., Jan. 23 with as little effort as humanly possible.

The first step is to decide which jurisdiction you want to vote in. If living away from home, you can vote in either your home riding or the riding you reside in. For those in residence, that would mean Calgary West. Unfortunately, if you’re reading this article, it’s too late to register to vote by special ballot in your home riding since you must do so six days prior to the poll. However, never fear, Calgary is home to a wide range of candidates from many political parties, so it’s likely one will appeal to you.

Next step is to find where you need to go. Elections Canada’s website has a place where you can enter your postal code. If you’re in rez, it’s the Dining Centre, so you can vote when you start to get hungry and not lose any extra calories walking to some church way out on Urbana or something.

It only follows the next step is to actually go to the poll and vote. Make sure you bring valid ID and a proof of address, which can be obtained from the residence services desk if you’re in rez. That’s even on the way to the Dining Centre, so you can do everything in one fell swoop. If you haven’t registered yet, you’ll have to do that, which is a process involving no more than showing the two pieces of information mentioned above and signing your name. You’re then able to get a ballot, mark an X by your candidate of choice, and drop it in the box.

Utterly painless, and you can enjoy a beer (or several) afterwards (or before), basking in the knowledge you’ve done something socially responsible.

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