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A large population that doesn't vote, City of Waterloo and student unions hoping more students go to the polls

A campaign is underway to get the vote out in the university district
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(via iStock)

It's a massive voting bloc, enough to decide an election, but time after time university students don't show up for municipal elections. 

A campaign is underway to get the vote out in the university district. 

The City of Waterloo and the Student Unions at both institutions are encouraging students vote. 

The city is placing polling stations at each university, and the students governments have been putting out information about how and why students should vote. 

Mathew Gerrits is the VP of Education with the UW Federation of Students, he says an energized student population could sway an election,

"It could absolutely change an election, it could absolutely make sure that one candidate does succeed or one doesn't, but even if it doesn't, if you're more engaged as a demographic that's going to mean that people are aware that you are an important voting bloc." said Gerrits. 

Mellissa Durrell is the current Ward 7 Uptown Councillor who is not seeking re-election for a third term. 

When running, Durrell says, it was difficult to know how hard to chase the student vote.

"I was strategic about and it and I spent about a week in areas that had a lot of students in it." said Durrell. 

But added she had little faith they would actually show up to vote. 

Durrell and Gerrits agree there are several municipal topics that affect students directly. 

Gerrits points to GRT service, garbage pickup and housing by-laws. 

Durrell says improvements to the city's rental housing by-law standards came directly from canvassing in student neighbourhoods, 

"Some of the houses that I toured were in terrible condition, the rooms they were sleeping in were terrible, that was one of the issues we brought forward in 2010, we knew we needed to make changes around how rental housing was run." said Durrell. 

Students looking to register to vote can go to the City of Waterloo website.
 

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