October 9 , 2003  
Volume 97, Issue 24   

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Voting day headache and big bureaucracy

Thrust n' Perry
Dan Perry

News Editor

I didn't vote and it even pisses me off.

On election day, I stopped in the University Community Centre atrium and asked two pollsters if I could vote on campus. I mentioned that I didn't live in residence. They said I could. I had my election card, but I needed proof of address.

No problem, right? I left the stale, rage-inspiring air of The Gazette office for an hour to bus home and get a piece of mail. Upon arrival, I was told I could not vote here after all; my polling station was at some public school I'd never heard of, back in the north end of the city.

Taking an hour off work to vote is reasonable; but a second hour? I stayed at my desk, went to my night class and got home around 10 p.m. - when the polls were long closed.

If I'd read the Web site a little more carefully and a little further in advance, I would have known I had to transfer my registration before the actual election day, so I accept some responsibility.

In conversation with Joel Duff, Ontario chairperson for the Canadian Federation of Students, I found out the Waterloo and Windsor university campuses had their returning offices go "out of their way" to make sure "any student wanting to vote" could do so at school; by using early enumerations of voters and moving polling stations closer to campus, as well as giving their staff the correct information, students could cast their ballots at their school address free of confusion.

A polling station staffer makes approximately $160 for a one-day contract and the first two I spoke to didn't even take time to read my election card. The electoral officer I spoke to on my second trip advised me, actually checked my card, then gave me the right information.

Why not allow voting registration to be transferred on election day from one poll to any other poll? If this is where I live now, then this is where I vote; but how many people work late outside of their ridings (even further from their polling stations)?

Kudos to University Students' Council VP-education Dave Ford and his predecessor, Josh Morgan, for seeing the SmartVote initiative through; unfortunately, inept government bureaucracy (triply redundant) has left me disillusioned with the electoral process.

Voting is a hassle. That said, while I can bitch about the flaws in the polling process, the responsibility falls to the voter; I too dropped the ball - and it's going to be a long five years.




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