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When students vote, they can get results

21-year old University of New Brunswick student wins councillor seat in Fredericton


 

A 21-year old University of New Brunswick student recently won a seat on Fredericton’s next city council, according to The Chronicle Herald.

The student won in an area with high town-gown tensions. If the situation in Fredericton is similar to other university towns, this means student voter turnout was strong enough to win the seat.

In Hamilton, my hometown, the citizens in the ward where McMaster University is located would never vote for a student, no matter his platform, because anti-student sentiment is so strong.

Not that “permanent residents” would have to mobilize to defeat a student candidate. We students do well enough defeating ourselves that we do not need any outside help.

During the 2006 municipal election, the City of Hamilton set up an on-campus polling station in the hope of increasing student voter turnout. This polling station was a complete failure with only 10 votes cast. The population of the nearby residences is over 3,000. (Note: Not all resident students were 18 years of age.)

The situation was not much better off campus. At the polling location serving the most concentrated student area, there were less than 200 ballots cast. I speculate most of those votes were non-student residents. This poll had, by far, the lowest voter turnout in the entire city.

Surprise! Ever since that election, student concerns have been ignored at Hamilton’s city council.

This will not be the case in Fredericton because a student has a vote at the table. There is a lesson here for students’ unions. A major part of lobbying is proving you can put ballots in the ballot box.

I’m sure someone will argue that it is only one vote on council and it can be ignored. However, if students can mobilize a large voting block, they can be the king-maker in a mayoral race in many communities. City councillors with their eyes on the big chair always make sure to not anger large voting blocks and are more likely to address student concerns.

Politicians in Fredericton will have to take note of student concerns and address them because, at the least, it is in their self interest.

Well done, Fredericton students.


 

When students vote, they can get results

  1. The apathy of McMaster students continues to disgust me on a daily basis. Why is it that some schools have such great interest in politics (cough cough U of Ottawa) and others do not? I picked the wrong university.

  2. Your assumption that students carried the Fredericton 21-year old student, Jordan Graham, to a City Council victory is interesting, but in all likelyhood, false.
    I worked closely with the campaign and students did not turn out in droves, as we would have desired.
    As a generous estimate, students likely accounted for approximately 100 votes. Mr. Graham won by a 485-248 margin. To further back up this claim, poll-by-poll results help. In the poll that includes campus and nearby streets, turnout was 15% and Graham received 54% of the vote. In a nearby poll with almost no students, turnout was 45% and Graham received 69.4% of the vote. Clearly, many votes were won for reasons other than student issues.
    While Graham’s win was a victory for students and, in my opinion, a boon for Fredericton as a whole, his win is not due to student votes.
    I agree with you, however, that low student voter turnout is concerning. Students could hold large influence if they only voted. Mr. Graham will now represent students – and all other community residents – thanks to votes from students, many more from long-term residents of Fredericton, and because he was not foolish enough to run a student-centred campaign.

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