Students have issues getting ballots in pro rep referendum


WATCH: With just two weeks left in B.C.’s proportional representation referendum, more problems are piling up.  Tess van Straaten has the latest.

Camosun College student Fillette Umulisa is trying to get other students to vote in B.C.’s pro rep referendum.

“It’s important for students to vote because it’s going to affect change,” Umulisa says. “This will give them a say in government.”

But after talking to around 2,000 students for the ‘Pro Rep is Lit’ campaign currently underway on university campuses, Umulisa says more than half still haven’t even received their ballots.

“They might be voting for the first time and not be registered, they might have moved and the ballot was sent to their previous address or their ballot was sent to their parent’s address,” says Umulisa

That’s exactly what happened to fourth year University of Victoria student Marlin Beswetherick.

“It got sent to my parent’s house and my dad had to call me to say, ‘do you want me to send it to you?’ And I was like yeah, but I didn’t really think about it,” says Beswetherick.

But even for students who got their ballots, many still haven’t voted.

“I guess as a student you’re just preoccupied with classes and assignments that are due but it’s good to know it’s coming up pretty quick,” says second year Camosun student Ashley McGinnis.

It turns out, students aren’t the only ones struggling to return the voting packages.

With only two weeks to go, voter turnout is low right across the province and very low in some Vancouver Island ridings.

“This is to be expected,” says B.C. Green Party leader Andrew Weaver. We have a postal strike, people are still deciding.”

Weaver’s riding of Oak Bay-Gordon Head has only seen 6.7 per cent of ballots returned and Premier John Horgan’s Langford-Juan de Fuca riding is even worse — just 5.7 per cent compared to the provincial average of 7.9 per cent.

“I would suggest there are an awful lot of ballots stuck in mailboxes around the province that haven’t been processed,” says Weaver. “I haven’t had mail at my house in three days.”

Elections BC says close to 600,000 ballots have been received but not screened, meaning voter turnout is closer to 18 per cent. It’s still low and critics says the referendum should be extended.

As for Fillette Umulisa, she just hopes people will vote.

“This is the time for us to impact the change we’ve been looking for over and over again and this is the time for people to understand us as students, as youth, will not be silenced anymore,” says Umulisa.

Eligible voters who haven’t received a ballot can request one from Elections B.C. online or in person at any Elections B.C. or Service B.C. office.

Tess van StraatenTess van Straaten

Recent Stories

Send us your news tips and videos!