Students Lend to Great Election Results

Tuesday, November 28, 2006


Written by Bre Walt

On November 13th, though voter turnout increased only 3%, the total number of individual votes cast increased by drastic amounts. And while many are quick to assume that students play no role in municipal politics; this year's election stats proves that these individuals were wrong.

For months leading up to the election, campaigns were run heavily on and off campus. On campus, students were being encouraged to “get pissed off” at things gone wrong in the city of Guelph. In the community, residents were being encouraged to do their research and just get out and vote on Election Day.

As ward results started pouring in on Election Night, there were talks of a huge increase in Ward 5, which is home to many University of Guelph students, as well as the campus itself. The next day it became known that ward 5 had 15,817 votes cast, which was an increase of 129% from the 6,908 cast in the 2003 election. Really, ward 6 was the only one that saw a decrease with 14 per cent, while wards 1, 2, 3 and 4 had increases of 13%, 8%, 26% and 10% respectively.

Despite ward 5 having undergone a bit of growth since 2003, it is clear that students were the driving force behind the 129% increase. One poll clerk, who spent the entire day at Harcourt United Church (only three blocks from campus), says “I was amazed and thrilled at the number of university students who came in to vote--they weren't registered to vote, but they happily stood in line, filled in forms, and waited to vote. The poll clerks had to have the forms restocked several times.” She went on to say that “having students vote in droves made a difference.”

In fact, such a dramatic increase in total votes cast would not have been possible without students.

Throughout the months leading up to the election, it was stated several times in the media and at events, that students are apathetic and do not vote in municipal elections. This time, students paid attention to the issues throughout the campaign, ran events in the community, worked on campaign teams for candidates and most importantly, they got out and voted. Despite apparent problems that occurred at the on-campus polling station, students pulled through and made a difference for the city of Guelph.

On November 14th, the day after the election, emails began floating around. They were sent from various individuals in the community with titles such as “students do it” and “getting pissed off pays off”. One community member emailed me personally to reiterate the fact that all the work students put into this election has “paid off”.

It is clear that the impact students had in this election will be remembered and appreciated for years to come.

Bre Walt is the CSA Local Affairs Commissioner

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