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ELECTION 2015: We could do way more to help youth vote, says UBCO professor

A UBCO professors says we can do a lot more to get out the youth vote.
October 21, 2015 - 11:30 AM

CENTRAL OKANAGAN - A local professor who conducted his own youth voting campaign thinks we could do a lot more to get young people into a voting booth.

“I had students on the last day asking about how they can vote back home. A lot of students don’t live here, their home address is somewhere else and voting is a complicated procedure,” Wayne Broughton, a professor at the Okanagan campus for the University of B.C., says of Monday's federal election. “Voting in another riding, if you’re not actually living there, you have to either register or go to an Elections Canada office.”

Broughton teaches high-level mathematics, not political science, but still mounted his own campaign to get out the youth vote. He posted on bulletin boards, contributed articles to the student newspaper and, yes, talked about it to his students.

“I put up Rick Mercer posters. I really wanted to get as many students out to vote as possible. I tried to make it motivational and informative. I don’t know how many students read the newspaper but it's better than nothing.”

Elections Canada ran a pilot program putting polling stations at 39 university and college campuses across Canada from Oct. 5 to 8.

Neither UBCO or Okanagan College were selected for participation, however Elections Canada says over 70,000 students voted during the three-day trial period. The two Kelowna schools have aproximately 12,000 students between them.

Broughton was as surprised as anyone by the lack of an advance polling station at either of the Kelowna campuses. He says that’s a basic first step in reaching the youth demographic.

“I wish we would have had one and it sounds like (the campus pilot program) worked out well,” he adds.

Broughton says administration at UBCO did post youth vote messages on its campus-wide electronic message board and sent each student a confirmation of residence at the beginning of the term.

He admits there will always be students who will ignore any and all political messages but Brougton would like to see administration at his school take a more active role in promoting youth voting and making it as accessible as possible.

“It would be helpful if there was more from the university, like if they were putting up these signs everywhere instead of me. I think we could have done more earlier on."

Broughton admits his motivation in all this is a bit partisan — he’s a big believer in proportional representation and ending Canada’s first-past-the-post electoral system, something the incoming Liberals have promised to end.

“I do feel like there’s a much higher chance the youth vote will be a vote for change and I was hoping it would help bring about the change that did occur,” he adds.

To contact the reporter for this story, email John McDonald at jmcdonald@infonews.ca or call 250-808-0143. To contact the editor, email mjones@infonews.ca or call 250-718-2724.

News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2015
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