You’re a university student. You’re living at home in the Kootenays for the summer. You have never voted before. You have decided that you are definitely going to vote in the federal election on Oct. 19. But where and how can you vote?
The answer may surprise you.
You can vote now. On any weekday. Just go to the Elections Canada office in Nelson or Trail.
First they will ask you if you are registered to vote. If you don’t know, they will check for you. Or you can check online in advance at elections.ca.
If you aren’t registered they will register you on the spot.
To register or to vote, you need one of three things: your driver’s licence, your provincial ID card, or any other government card with your name, address, and photo. If you have none of those, you need two pieces of ID, at least one of which has your address on it.
Once you are registered, they will give you a blank ballot on which you must write the name of your chosen candidate. This is different from a regular election day ballot that shows the names of all candidates.
Hand in your ballot. You’ve voted.
This does not apply just to students. Anyone can do it. This system is called special ballot voting, and is different from advance polling, which takes place Oct. 9 to 12.
But there is one extra thing that is unique to students, according to John Enright of Elections Canada. You can choose whether to vote for a candidate in your home riding or in the riding in which you live at university.
For example, if you’re from Nelson but will be attending school in the Vancouver East riding, you could choose to vote for a candidate in Kootenay Columbia or Vancouver East. But to get this choice, you must identify yourself to the elections officer as a student, and tell them which riding you want to vote in.
Enright says an unprecedented number of people have registered to vote since the election was called.
“We have had more than 13,000 new electors registered since Aug. 2, and it is mostly a mix of new Canadians and 18-year-olds,” he says, adding this number is higher than anyone in his office expected or has seen before at this point in an election.
The Nelson Elections Canada office is at 310 Ward St., fifth floor. The phone number is 250-505-8450 or 1-866-545-0621. Their office hours in August are weekdays 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. In September and October: weekdays from 9 a.m. until 9 p.m., Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Sundays from noon until 4 p.m.
The Trail Elections Canada office is at Waneta Plaza and is open weekdays 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Their phone numbers are not yet available.