A special voting day at Carleton University? Yes please.

On Tuesday the FEDCO committee will consider a new idea in the City of Ottawa - "anywhere" voting days. In addition to regular advance vote days, the City of Ottawa is considering three more "special" days where you can vote early at three locations, regardless of where you live. 

I've written to the FEDCO members to suggest they add a fourth at Carleton University. In addition to being a generally accessible location (good transit, good parking) there's a case to be made that many students would be able to vote on campus - no matter where they live in the city.

As I write this there's less than 24 hours until the meeting. I sent an email to the members and followed up with a phone call. All in that took less than 30 minutes, which reminds me that city politics is so much more accessible than provincial or federal matters.

I hope FEDCO considers it. Algonquin and uOttawa students can reasonably be expected to make it out to 100 Constellation or City Hall (with a little public awareness help from Elections Ottawa). But Carleton is more isolated. I think it's worthwhile to invest a little in having Elections Ottawa open a booth for one extra day.

Want to weigh in? Here's who to email (cc: joel.monfils@ottawa.ca if you want to make it an official submission to FEDCO): jim.watson@ottawa.ca, rick.chiarelli@ottawa.ca, peter.clark@ottawa.ca, diane.deans@ottawa.ca, keith.egli@ottawa.ca, allan.hubley@ottawa.ca, peter.hume@ottawa.ca, maria.mcrae@ottawa.ca, bob.monette@ottawa.ca, mark.taylor@ottawa.ca, doug.thompson@ottawa.ca

Dear FEDCO Committee members,

re: Elections 2014 – Advance Vote Dates and Times

I have two recommendations to the FEDCO committee

  • Add a 4th "special" advance voting date so that a one-day "anywhere" voting station can be held at Carleton University. 
  • Direct staff to promote the "special" voting dates at Algonquin, uOttawa and Carleton campuses. All three will be close to "anywhere" voting locations.

It is well known that municipal voter turnout is disappointingly low, and the voting rate by young people is even lower.

Adding Carleton University as a fourth "anywhere" voting day will help students vote, and also provide a 4th easily accessible voting station for the general public. (Carleton has excellent transit and parking services).

The City already supports voter turnout for other groups that would otherwise have difficulty voting on election day. For example, polls will be held in seniors' residences. Staff originally wanted to help average people vote by holding special dates in shopping centres, but logistical issues preclude that at this time.

Staff's two key concerns are (a) guarantees of physical space availability and (b) reliable network access. I believe Carleton University could guarantee both of those with no difficulty.

Given staff's original desire to hold additional "anywhere" voting dates (see report), the low voting turnout trend of students, and easy access to a Carleton voting location for the general public, I believe hosting one additional special voting date at Carleton University is a worthwhile endeavor.

Furthermore, directing staff to promote all special voting dates through on-campus advertising would be helpful. For example, custom "You Are Here --> Go Vote Here on [date]" maps at campus transit stations that show how to walk to the polling location would be helpful (along with ID requirements).

Best regards,
Kevin O'Donnell