Where to vote? There will soon be an app for that
When a record-low number of British Columbians turned out at the polls in 2009, it was the Vancouver Canucks who took some of the blame — a playoff run happened to fall during the provincial election campaign.
Elections BC can’t do much about hockey, but the agency is stepping up its game in an effort to get turnout for the May 14 provincial vote up from 51 per cent.
In Kamloops, chief electoral officer Keith Archer spent Wednesday, March 13, speaking with Thompson Rivers University students and the Kamloops Immigrant Society as part of a campaign to update the provincial voter rolls.
Archer told KTW young people and those who speak English as a second language are less likely to be on the voters’ list, while unregistered voters are less likely to cast a ballot.
“If you’re not on the voters’ list, we’re not going to write to you to tell you where to vote, for example,” Archer said.
Beyond the list, there are three factors that tend to influence a person into voting or not.
One is attitudinal — an interest in politics or a belief voting makes a difference.
That’s one factor better left to the politicians to influence, Archer said.
But, the agency can make polling stations easier to get to and ballots more accessible.
It can also try to combat behavioural factors that put people off voting.
“About a third of the voters in B.C. in 2009 who didn’t vote, when asked why they didn’t vote, said they were too busy,” Archer said.
“I think that’s an important thing for us to take into account.”
Elections BC is trying to promote alternatives to voting on May 14, with advance polls, mail-in ballots and voting at an electoral office.
Archer said voters who will be outside their home riding on election day may also be surprised to learn they don’t have to vote at a particular polling station.
“Let’s say you live in Merritt and you go to school here at TRU and you decide you’re going to vote on general voting day,” Archer said.
“You’re on campus and you think, ‘OK, I’m studying, I’m finishing a paper, I don’t really have time to get back to Merritt.’ But, you can vote anywhere in Kamloops.”
To further that message, Elections BC is working on an app that will direct voters to the closest polling station based on their geographic location.
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