Voting Habits: Living outside the country not a barrier to UBC students voting

From a special polling station in the AMS Student Nest to advanced polling over Thanksgiving weekend across the country, Elections Canada has made voting for students an easy process — so long as they are on Canadian soil.

To vote while studying abroad, the process is more involved.

A Canadian student abroad must apply for a special ballot. Elections Canada recommends that Canadians abroad apply online, but may also do so through mail, fax or in person at a Canadian diplomatic office.

There are several documents required, including a government-issued identification, two other pieces of identification with your name and address — Elections Canada recommends a debit card and a bank statement — and an affidavit proving your identity, signed by someone authorized to receive oaths in your province or territory.

If you plan to apply in person at a Canadian diplomatic office, then you can forgo the affidavit and take a verbal oath, so long as you bring a witness who can vouch for your identity. After this entire process, you must wait to receive your special ballot package in the mail and return it by October 21 at 6 p.m. EST.

Though it may seem daunting, the online application is a relatively quick process, as long as you have your proper identification prepared.

Third-year business student Cole Hendy, currently on exchange at Copenhagen Business School, wrote to The Ubyssey about the ease with which he registered to vote.

“I actually did it while bored in class, it only took a few minutes,” he said.

“Obviously I haven’t been hearing all the ads for the election but that’s not necessarily a bad thing.”

In Copenhagen, he has found himself surrounded by many other Canadian students who have helped him stay connected through what he called, “meaningful and constructive conversations.”

Like many Canadians living abroad, access to the internet is also extremely important for Hendy’s participation, as he plans to watch the upcoming debates to help come to a decision. Online broadcasts and party platforms are accessible almost everywhere, an advancement that makes all the difference for today’s exchange students who now have easier access to voter registration.

Voter turnout in the 18 to 24 age group has steadily increased over the last two federal elections, a trend that is predicted to continue this year. With the ease of access to resources like special ballots, first-time voters are afforded many opportunities to participate — even while on the other side of the world.