Students earn greater voting flexibility

Voting in provincial elections has become a little easier for students who attend a post-secondary institution located outside their permanent place of residence.

Bill 7, or the Election Accountability Amendment Act, had its third and final reading in the Alberta Legislature recently. The bill includes several changes in how Alberta's elections are carried out and allows for post-secondary students to cast their ballots in the riding they attend school or in their home riding.

"This is going to make voting much easier for students in the next election," says Armin Escher, president of the University of Lethbridge Students' Union. "The Elections Act is going to be amended as per our recommendation to the government and I hope we see even more students turn out to vote in the next election as a result."

Escher adds that the change is a huge accomplishment for the Council of Alberta University Students (CAUS), a provincial lobby group compromised of the University of Lethbridge, University of Calgary and University of Alberta Students' Unions, who has been lobbying the government since 2008, to make it a little easier for students to vote in this province.

The University of Lethbridge Students' Union, members of CAUS, hopes to see an increase in voter turnout in the next provincial election, particularly among students.

"This past May we saw a lot of students being turned away at the polls because they were not able to vote due to the fact that their home riding was not Lethbridge," says Julia Adolf, VP academic, University of Lethbridge Students' Union.

"The changes to the election act will give our students' the ability to vote in Lethbridge."

This is not the only issue the bill addresses; it also changes provisions on campaign finance and new changes to municipal elections.

The bill was originally based on recommendations put forth by the Chief Electoral Officer, however, the recommendations that CAUS made were accepted.

Many parts of this bill have been met with controversy but the portion pertaining to student voting has been met agreement by all parties in the legislature.