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Pro Rep is Lit campaign urges students to vote in referendum

Kim Phan (left), a Pro Rep is Lit rep at Selkirk College, engages a student regarding the importance of voting in the Proportional Representation referendum. — Submitted photo

Time is running out on the voters wanting to cast a say on how BC moves forward to determine who gets to sit in the Legislature.

Deadline to cast a vote in the Proportional Representation referendum is approaching quickly, and campus coordinators for ‘Pro Rep is Lit’ - Vote PR BC’s province-wide youth campaign are urging students who haven’t received their electoral reform ballot to order one online by Friday (November 16) and get it in the mail no later than November 23, to make sure their votes are counted.

“Young British Columbians are overwhelmingly in favour of proportional representation, but that won’t matter unless we get our ballots in to Elections BC by the November 30 deadline,” said Simka Marshall, Vote PR BC Field Director for Pro Rep is Lit and a Douglas College student. “At this stage, our campus campaign is all about mobilizing the youth vote, and that means making sure young Pro Rep supporters have a ballot in their hands and in the mail before it’s too late.”

According to Elections BC, the Kootenay Region boasts one of the higher return rates in the province. Nelson-Creston, with 28,676 registered voters, has returned 3,566 ballots or 12.4 percent. Kootenay West, with a higher number of voters, is also at 12.4 percent while Kootenay East has returned 13 percent.

However, the provincial return rate as of November 15th is only 7.4 percent, forcing the "No" side to request an extension due to postal disruption possibly having voters hold back on mailing their ballots. The "No" side is also asking for an extension over worries a ballot return as low as 20 percent could trigger changes to the electoral system on a voting return of fewer than 10 per cent of voters.

Marshall said it’s difficult for some students to even receive a ballot due to a change of address or the fact most mail is being sent to their parent’s address.

So, the ‘Pro Rep is Lit’ campaign is asking students who haven’t yet received a ballot to order one on online or by phone no later than November 16, to make sure their ballot arrives in time.

“Young people are turned off by politics as usual, and for good reason,” said Maria Dobrinskaya, spokesperson for Vote PR BC. “They don’t see themselves reflected in government at all, and they don’t see politicians effectively dealing with the complex issues they’re facing, like finding a good-paying job, or overwhelming personal and student debt. Pro Rep will change that and give young people a stronger voice in government than they’ve ever had before.”

Marshall feels the current the first-past-the-post voting system is outdated, and change is needed.

“Politicians often choose to ignore issues that affect youth because of our perceived lack of ballot box power,” said Marshall. “Our generation is not represented at the decision-making table - and we want in. It’s time to make our votes count.”

There are three ways to order a referendum voting package, if you haven’t received one yet:

  • Visit elections.bc.ca/ovr
  • Call1-800-661-8683 (Mon-Fri, 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., Sat 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.)
  • Goin person at a Referendum Service Office or Service BC Centre. Find locations at elections.bc.ca/rso