Democracy does not work unless we do: A guide on how and where to vote

Monique Gendron | Contributor

It is happening. The election ads are spinning, the mud slinging has begun, and strange, oddly colored, square flowers are popping up all over town. It is hunting season, and we are the prey.

The problem is, not all of us make that vital choice. In the last federal election held in 2011, only 61.4 percent of registered voters turned out to vote, and only 40.5 percent of youth. All of us here in university are eligible to vote, so why aren’t we? Maybe we’re too busy studying and writing papers. Maybe we feel we can’t make a difference. It has been proven that those who do not vote the first year they are able to are less likely to ever vote again. You are making your own decisions and that includes voting for the government that you want. So here are some reasons to get out and vote.

Change won’t happen unless if you make the change. Voting does not happen on its own. Nobody is going to lift your hand and check that box.The government you want to lead your future won’t come about until you make the effort it requires to bring them into power. Not voting is not a statement. Choosing not to vote is not making a statement: it does not say anything at all. If you really want to make a statement and show how you feel, get out and vote for what you believe is right.

Make sure your voter registration slip has made it to the government. It does not do any good if you try to vote and find that your registration has gotten lost in the mail. If you have not done this yet, you can check your registration on Election Canada’s website, www.elections.ca. This site also works if you trashed your registration and want to change your mind. You should receive a voter information card in the mail by October 2, detailing locations and times to vote at. If you do not receive this letter, you should check your registration. If you are an out-of-town student, make sure you register in the location you wish to vote in – it would be somewhat problematic if you register your home address as Halifax and show up to vote in Prince George. If you don’t have a piece of identification proving you live in Prince George, you’ll need to take an oath; in other words, you need two pieces of identification, plus someone who “must show proof of identity and address, be registered in the same polling division, and attest for only one person.”

If you’re being confused by all the noise generated by the political parties, take a step back and breathe. Ignore the fusses and struggles and do some research of your own. Find out for yourself which party aligns itself the best with your views and beliefs and go vote for them. Approach some of the party representatives in your riding and get them to answer some of your questions.

If it’s all still confusing, ask someone you know what to do. Most universities have a polling station on campus. UNBC usually does. Even if there isn’t, there should be one somewhere nearby. Even if you can’t do that, there is an easier way still – apply to vote by Special Ballot. This means you can vote by mail. It’s super easy, and only takes a few moments once
you receive it, you can apply to vote by mail here: www.elections.ca/Voting-by-mail. If you are a student that is eligible to vote in a non-Prince George riding, you can either vote
by mail, or vote at the local Elections Canada office at the intersection between 20th Avenue and Redwood Street during an advance polling day or the general election day.

Polling stations have a 12-hour time limit. It is far easier to get to a polling station on time than it might be to get to a lecture on time. Polls in BC open at 7 a.m. and close at 7 p.m. Make sure you bring one piece of government-issued photo ID and two other pieces of identification – such as a social insurance card, birth certificate or passport – as well as your voter information card. If you don’t have it on October 19, don’t worry. It isn’t a requirement to be able to vote.

There are plenty of reasons to get out and vote. This is your chance to make change and create the world you want for your future.