August 26, 2016 12:32 pm
Updated: August 26, 2016 5:18 pm

Dartmouth community centre aims to increase voter turnout ahead of municipal election

WATCH ABOVE: With an upcoming municipal election and a possible provincial election, many residents in H.R.M. have voting on the mind, but statistics show many areas have very low voter turnouts. One community group is hoping to change that in their district. Global’s Dave Squires reports.

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Dozens of Dartmouth North residents turned out to the polls at the Dartmouth North Community Food Centre’s “Voter Pop-Up” on Friday.

It’s the beginning of an eight-week campaign called “Speak up. Show up.” which aims to increase voter awareness and participation in the community ahead of the October 15 municipal election.

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“We’ve noticed in the past voter turnout has been very low in Dartmouth North and we figured with this upcoming municipal election on October 15 that it would be a good time to increase the voter turnout,” said Tammy Shields, community action coordinator for the centre.

Statistics show Dartmouth North voting rates are eight to nine times lower than the rest of the area. In the last byelection not a single ballot was cast at two Dartmouth North polls which serve more than 1,000 voters.

“Understand, in my byelection that took place in January there are 6,000 potential voters out of Dartmouth North. One-hundred-seventy-two people came out to vote,” said Tony Mancini, District 6 councillor.

Dartmouth North resident William Poirier came to learn more about the voting process. Now he says he feels confident to cast his vote in the fall.

“I feel I know what to do now on October 15 — it feels good to cast a vote,” said Poirier.

Mock registration desk at Dartmouth North Community Food Centre’s Voter Pop-Up.

Dave Squires/Global News

Why the low turnout?

For voter turn out to increase, organizers say several barriers need to be broken down within the Dartmouth North community.

“Just not knowing a lot about the voter process, so that’s why we have done the things we have done here to try and increase awareness and take away some of those barriers,” Shields said.

“Part of it is there is a transient part of the population here and for some, not all voting is low on the priority list,” said Mancini

To make voting in Dartmouth North a higher priority for residents, a slate of weekly Speak Up. Show Up. events is planned culminating in a Voting Party on Election Day — Saturday, October 15.

© 2016 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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