Chippawa Bus Stop (Image)

A shuttle bus at the intersection of Elgin Road and Western Road.

Western University and the University Students’ Council have teamed up to provide students free shuttle service to polling stations to cast their vote in Monday’s federal election. 

Elections Canada will not be running the “Vote on Campus” program which allows students to vote in polling stations at their universities. Students must now travel to stations outside off campus to cast their ballot. 

For students in Essex, London, Perth, Ontario, Saugeen-Maitland, or Lambton Hall, shuttles will stop at the Social Science Centre’s parking lot every 20 minutes between 12 and 7 p.m. The shuttles will transport students to the polling station at RBC Place.

Students from Medway-Sydenham, Delaware, Elgin, or Alumni Hall may take a shuttle directly from their residence to Luke’s Place, every 10 minutes from 12-10:30 p.m.

Off-campus students may take either shuttle to polling stations. All students are required to present their Western One Cards to access the service. Polling stations will be open from 9:30 a.m to 9:30 p.m Monday.

Many polling stations in London North Centre, the riding where most student housing is located, are far from campus. Both Luke’s Place and RBC Place are a 15 to 20 minute bus ride from campus, adding around 35 minutes of commute time to students’ voting experience.

All students must provide an acceptable ID with their name, photo and proof of address to be able to vote. 

The USC said a delay from Elections Canada prevented on-campus polling this year.

“The USC worked hard to secure these locations on campus through multiple calls with our local returning officer and Western,” said the USC in a statement. “However, their delay in correspondence with Elections Canada resulted in no on-campus polling locations.”

Elections Canada said their decision to cancel the “Vote on Campus” program earlier this summer stemmed from uncertainty regarding the election date and the coronavirus.

The USC believes that a lack of polling stations will negatively impact student voter turnout. 

“The result of these actions will be lower student turnout at the polls and the suppression of students’ voices,” said USC president Zamir Fakirani in a tweet.

Young people ages 18 to 24 are the least likely age group to vote, and research shows that people are less likely to vote when polling stations are far.. 

When first introduced, the Vote on Campus program resulted in an 18 per cent increase in voter turnout of 18 to 24 year olds between the 2011 and 2015 elections.

Elections Canada says the decision to cancel the “Vote on Campus” program stemmed from uncertainty regarding the election date and the coronavirus.

Update (Sept. 20, 2021, 6:04): This article has been updated to include comment from the USC. 

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