Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Options in Voting

Readers, I want to help you vote. I feel that my primary mission is to make it clear how easy voting can be.

The first step to voting is to know where you’re voting. This is a problem quickly solved. Basically, the most obvious thing to know is that the place you live is a place you can vote. I decided that this election I would like to cast my vote in the riding I’ve lived in and gone to school for four years, the Ontario riding of Welland. Part of my motivation is that Welland is a three-way race between the Liberals, Conservatives, and New Democrats. My other motivation is the Ontario election later this year, but that can be discussed later.

You’re free to claim residency in any riding you live in, either as claimed on legal documents – such as a driver’s licence, or where you call home. As a university student I am sort of stuck in a limbo where I have all of my official documents for my parents’ home, but I’ve been living at the same address for four years. Therefore, under Canadian election law I can vote either back home in Brampton, or here in Saint Catharines.

To confirm I could vote I called Elections Canada. There, a helpful (and bilingual) civil servant told me about my options being a student living in my riding, and that I had the right to vote here. I then contacted my local Elections Canada Office by phone and they are going to mail me the paperwork to be registered to vote here. Very exciting. Elections Canada can also tell you what riding you are in and other important information.

So, what if you don’t want to change your registration, but you can’t simply return home to vote. Good news! You have a number of options. First, early voting. On April 22, 23 and 25 you can go to select locations in your riding and vote. Since that is Easter weekend, many will be home anyway. Please make note in your calendar. Another option is a mail-in voting. For more information, consult this part of Elections Canada.

Now, there is no excuse for someone not to vote. Please let anyone you know know their excuses are invalid.

On to election news. One of the major issues that are bothering me this week is the discussion revolving around the debates. The Broadcast Consortium, who controls the debates, have ruled that the Green Party will not be included in the debate despite the fact that Elizabeth May was included in the 2008 debate. I had believed, like many, that once the Greens were included that would always be included. The Greens are not a fringe party, they received over 6% of the vote, which was nearly a million people. Just because our First-Past-the-Post system doesn’t allow the Greens in doesn’t mean the political system should shut them out.

Read more about the Green’s struggle to get into the debates here.

Also, for election projections please consult these two websites, which I will discuss next week.



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