Advance voting for 2021 municipal election coming to 4 Calgary campuses

FILE: A photo showing the University of Calgary campus in the summer. June 2010. Riley Brandt / University of Calgary/File photo

It’s not the full “vote anywhere” option that Calgary students were hoping for but Elections Calgary will set up polling stations at four Calgary post-secondary campuses ahead of the October municipal election.

It’s still a big win for post-secondary students who are hoping to be able to vote on campus.

“These stations are the difference between students voting and students not voting at all,” Marley Gillies, chair of the Calgary Student Alliance, said.

On Wednesday, Elections Calgary informed the student alliance and candidates that two polling stations at four campuses will handle advance votes for the city’s 14 wards.

The election administrator said it was in the process of confirming appropriate spaces on the campuses of Bow Valley College, Mount Royal University, SAIT and the University of Calgary.

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Elections Calgary said it was waiting to hear what those campuses were planning for COVID-19 protocols and plans to have its own full protocols in place to ensure the safety of voters and election officials.

Gillies said it will help improve access to voting in the municipal election for tens of thousands of students and thousands more staff.

“We’ve heard from faculty that they wanted to see these stations return as well, because it’s a huge help to have them there for them.

“Students, faculty and staff spend 10 to 12 hours on campus every day — it’s where they live their lives.”

The announcement is a change from Elections Calgary’s June 30 information brief, when officials said a “vote anywhere” offering could introduce risks to public safety if public health restrictions were reintroduced ahead of the Oct. 18 vote.

The alliance, representing 90,000 Calgary students, began calling for on-campus voting shortly after, garnering the support of outgoing councillors Evan Woolley and Druh Farrell and multiple candidates.

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On-campus voting at the four schools will be offered on two advance voting days, but it isn’t clear which days.

Advance voting at designated voting stations happens from Oct. 4 to 10.

Election officials said they will continue monitoring the COVID-19 pandemic and expect to make a final announcement with all advance voting details in September.

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