March 12, 2019 11:15 pm
Updated: March 19, 2019 2:59 pm

Voting change allows Alberta university students to participate in election

Even though an election date hasn't been set, people who will be outside of their riding in the lead-up to election day in Alberta will still be able to send in their ballot. Kyle Benning has more on the new strategy to get more people to the polls and how it's helping university students.

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The University of Lethbridge’s Laura Bryan calls the new riding of Morinville-St. Albert home.

But she may be unable to vote in that riding depending on when Premier Rachel Notley calls the election.

“I personally don’t have the means to go up to my home riding during the month of April, presuming the election is called soon,” Bryan said.

If she can’t be home on election day, there’s now another option.

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This is the first time Elections Alberta has opened up the voting process to allow Albertans to cast their ballot at any polling station.

It gives students like Bryan the option to vote for a candidate in their home riding at an advance poll anywhere in the province.

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“Especially with the way the election could be called this year, it could be happening during one of the busiest times of year for students. So the fact that they have the opportunity to vote in their home riding right here in Lethbridge is huge for them,” University of Lethbridge Students’ Union VP of External Victoria Schindler said.

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Elections Alberta hopes this new option will get more people to the polls.

“Historically, people that were away from home during the election period, their option would be to vote by special ballot. To have one mailed out to them to mail it back,” said operations and communications director Pamela Renwick.

“But if they’re still in Alberta, they could just show up at an advanced poll location wherever they are and cast their ballot there.”

Renwick added that polling stations will also be open at some non-tradition buildings like airports and shopping malls to provide voters with even more options.

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Bryan says she no longer has to worry about the mail-in ballot and it gives her a chance to learn more about party platforms and candidates.

“I can take the time to really look into the candidates, go to an election debate if I want. Stream anything that I want like the leader’s debate. So I can actually learn about the issues as opposed to only looking when I don’t have the time to do so,” she said.

The students’ union said a polling station will be on campus.

Elections Alberta noted that advanced polling generally takes place from Tuesday to Saturday before election day.

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