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Issues at Delta polling station related to students not registered here: Elections Canada

It took time to transfer the students' registration over from their home addresses
20210920 Election night at Delta RV
A security guard stands at the end of the line of prospective voters outside Delta Hotel and Conference Centre Guelph, at the corner of Gordon Street and Stone Road.

Prospective voters caused delays at the polling station closest to the University of Guelph Monday night, as many were not registered to vote there and their registration had to be transferred, explains Rejean Grenier, Elections Canada’s regional media advisor for Ontario.

Most of the people in line were university students.

“A lot of those students were not assigned to that poll, but because it was close by they just decided to go,” Grenier said, explaining they could have redirected those prospective voters to their originally dedicated polling station or transfer their registration to that polling location and allow them to vote. 

“That’s what we did,” he added of transfers, “in which case that takes longer.”

He’s unsure how many votes were cast after the 9:30 p.m. deadline or what the average wait time was.

There are no polling stations on campus for this election.

Morgan Burges, an 18-year-old U of G student, was near the front of the line outside the hotel at 9:30 p.m. She said she'd been waiting about two hours at that point but was determined to cast her vote.

"I do want to add my input, I do want to vote because it's going to affect me," Burges said of the election's importance. "I wish there was some voting stations on campus. I feel like it would have been a lot faster."

Grenier explained there were no campus polling stations because of pandemic precautions as well as the time it takes to organize such stations. He noted campus polling is done a week before advanced polls. 

“It takes a long time to plan this,” he said of university polling stations. “Until this spring, actually until this summer in most cases, universities were closed, so who do you talk to and how do you plan to have space for this campus poll thing if you don’t even know if the campus is going to be open?”

The entire election period lasted 36 days, the minimum required by law.

In a statement to GuelphToday, Mellissa McDonald, the university's director of government relations and community engagement, said she's disappointed by the wait times students saw at the Delta Hotel and appauded the dedications of students who took the time to vote.

"Going forward to address the issues experienced by our students yesterday, we urge Elections Canada to reinstate the 'Vote on Campus Program' to ensure students are more easily able to exercise their democratic right," she said via email.

There were several lineups outside polling stations throughout the city after 9:30 p.m. though Grenier believes the Delta Hotel line was the longest.

“There were lineups all over the place,” he said. “Some went pretty quickly.

“The rule was the same everywhere. If there were lineups, somebody would go at the back of the line, stop other people from joining the line and those that were already in line were able to vote.”