Danckert: Remove barriers to voting, improve democracy

Kitchener-Waterloo – Stacey Danckert, Green Party of Ontario (GPO) candidate in Kitchener-Waterloo wants students have the same access to voting that other Ontarians do.

“If elected I am committed to putting forward a private member’s bill that will make voting more accessible for students and first-time voters in our electoral system,” says Stacey Danckert, GPO candidate. “Premier McGuinty’s timing for the by-election in Kitchener-Waterloo was a calculated move to discourage political participation, especially that of our students.”

Limited access to documentation and polling stations threatens the ability of approximately 10,000 first-year university students to vote in the by-election in K-W.

Students who live off campus have to provide proof of residence in the form of a lease or other document. Many students live in shared housing, and none will have received their first utility bill yet.

Students living on campus are required to request letters from housing services to prove that live in the riding and are eligible to vote. But as thousands of students are moving in the housing services staff are busy and hard to contact.

“It’s wrong that our students have to jump through unnecessary hurdles to vote,” says GPO Leader Mike Schreiner. “Ontario college and university students pay the highest tuition fees in Canada, but the province has the lowest per capita funding for colleges and universities. Students shouldn’t face barriers to having their voices heard.”

The Elections Act, which prohibits interference with exercise of right to vote, including any activity that “impedes” voters (96.2(1)).

Danckert’s bill will recognize the clear impediments to the participation of students and first-time voters in our electoral system, and call for the following:

– timing of elections that is not prohibitive to groups of people on the basis of their employment or occupation (adding to existing “religious and cultural”);

– mandatory provision by universities and colleges of documentation of all — –

– registered students living in residence;

– move to electronic voting within the briefest time possible;

– promotion of voting information to all Ontarians, with particular emphasis on reaching out to communities that typically have low turnout, such as university campuses.

Media Contact:
Rebecca Harrison