62 Accommodations for Students Voting in Federal Elections January 23 2006

PDAD&C #62


From: Professor Vivek Goel, Vice-President and Provost
Date: January 4, 2006
Accommodations for Students Voting in Federal Elections
(January 23, 2006)


In light of recent questions concerning the scheduling of academic activities on the federal elections voting day, I am writing outline the University's expectations on this matter.

As an institution of higher learning and in consideration of various institutional objectives to encourage civic and community engagement among students, we should acknowledge and facilitate the learning opportunities that the elections provide for our students.  Civic engagement contributes to society at large and strengthens educational and personal growth among students.  In this context, University residence departments and various campus organizations are being encouraged to undertake initiatives which seek to engage students in the electoral process and facilitate the dissemination of information to students regarding the voting process and voter registration.

It is conceivable that there may be circumstances when a scheduled academic activity such as a test or exam may conflict with a student's right to vote.

For example, since the polls do not open until 9:30 a.m. in this region, it is conceivable that a person who is employed full-time and who attends class in the evenings may find it difficult to travel back to his or her electoral district to vote even with the accommodations provided by his or her employer.  Other situations may emerge related to students who wish to vote in the polling division of their permanent residence instead of a University residence.

In some circumstances, it may be advisable to reschedule academic activities using the normal procedures.  Please keep in mind that once the timing of tests and evaluations has been set, the University Grading Practices Policy requires that changes to the timing of each major evaluation are subject to the consent of at least a simple majority of the students enrolled in a course.

Please ask instructors who have scheduled academic activities for January 23rd, to raise the issue with their students at the earliest opportunity.

Instructors should strongly encourage students to vote by special ballot (which requires advance registration no later than January 17th) or at advance polls (scheduled for January 13th, 14th and 16th).  In circumstances when students have not been able to vote in the advance polls or arrange to vote by special ballot, every reasonable opportunity should be given to these students to make up work that they miss, particularly in courses involving laboratory work. When the scheduling of tests or examinations cannot be avoided, students should be informed of the procedure to be followed to arrange to write at an alternate time.

It is most important that no student be seriously disadvantaged because of her or his participation in the electoral process. However, it is my hope that if unavoidable conflicts occur, students will choose the alternatives available to them to vote in advance or by mail-in ballot.

If you have any questions regarding the above, or on related matters, please direct them to Jim Delaney, Assistant Director, Student Affairs at 978-4027 or jim.delaney@utoronto.ca.