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Everyone's Vote Counts, So Get Ready!
By: John Rae
Editor's Note: John Rae is 2nd Vice Chair of the Council of Canadians with Disabilities.
The writ has been dropped, and it is time to get involved in the upcoming federal election, and be prepared to vote.
How Can I Get Involved?
- Visit campaign offices in your riding and talk with candidates.
- Volunteer for your favourite candidate.
- Write all candidates and ask for their party platforms on a variety of disability-related issues.
- Participate in all candidates' meetings and ask disability-related questions.
- And be sure to cast your vote!
Elections Canada (EC) informs Canadians about when, where and the ways to register and vote. For any questions you may have, be sure to go to elections.ca for the information you need to be ready to vote.
Who Can Vote
You can vote if you are a Canadian citizen, at least 18 years old on Election Day and can prove your identity and address.
Register to Vote
Go to elections.ca to check, update or complete your registration. You can also register by mail. EC will send you a form to complete. If you need assistance with registration, call EC at 1-800-463-6868 or TTY 1-800-361-8935. After an election is called, you can register at a local EC office or at the poll when you go to vote. Registering in advance saves time on Election Day.
To register, you must confirm your identity and current address. The EC website is your best source of reliable information about ID for registration and voting.
Watch for your voter information card, which comes in the mail. The card explains when, where, the ways to vote and the accessibility of your polling place. Check your name and address and contact EC if there are errors.
Get Your ID Ready for Voting
- When you vote, you will need to show 1 piece of government-issued ID with your photo, name and current address (e.g. driver’s licence or a provincial or territorial ID card).
- Or show 2 pieces of ID. Both must have your name and 1 must have your current address (e.g. health card and a utility bill).
- Or take an oath. Show two pieces of ID with your name and have someone who knows you attest to your address. They must show proof of identity and address, and be registered in the same polling division. They can attest for only one person.
- Or take a completed letter of confirmation of residence to the poll and show one piece of ID with your name.
Having a piece of ID that includes an address is difficult for some Canadians: people who live in a seniors' residence, long-term care facility, or shelter; people who live on the streets but use the services of a shelter or soup kitchen; students living on campus; and First Nations persons living on a reserve or Inuit hamlet.
If any of these describe your living situation, you can prove your address using a letter of confirmation of residence. You can have the letter of confirmation of residence form completed by the administrator of a First Nations band or reserve, an Inuit local authority, a student residence, seniors' residence, long-term care facility, shelter or soup kitchen. Alternatively, EC also accepts a letter from the administrator printed on their organizational letterhead.
There are 4 ways to vote:
- On Election Day at your polling place, which will be open for 12 hours.
- On one of four advance voting days, at your polling place, from noon to 8:00 p.m.
- In-person at any EC office. After the election is called, you can vote at any EC office across the country. Offices are open 7 days a week. After the election is called, check with EC for the deadline for voting at an EC office.
- By mail. Apply online at elections.ca to receive a voting kit. Don’t wait! You need to allow enough time for your voting kit to reach you and for your marked ballot to reach EC by Election Day. Can’t apply online? Call EC at 1-800-463-6868 or TTY 1-800-361-8935.
There are several ways to find the location of your polling place:
- Your voter information card.
- Go to elections.ca and type your postal code into the Voter Information Service.
- Call 1-800-463-6868 or TTY 1-800-361-8935.
Polling place accessibility:
- Information on the accessibility of your polling place can be found on your voter information card or at elections.ca.
- Either your polling place will have an automatic door opener, or an election worker will be at the door to provide assistance.
- If you need assistance at any time in the voting process, please ask an election worker and tell them how they can help.
- You can also bring a support person, friend or family member to assist you. The voter with a disability makes the choice about who provides assistance.
Tools and services at the polling place to improve accessibility:
- Magnifier with light (4X).
- Sign language interpretation (requested ahead of time).
- Assistance in marking the ballot.
- Tactile and Braille voting template.
- Voting screen that lets in more light.
- Braille list of candidates.
- Large print list of candidates.
If you have comments about accessibility, fill out an accessibility feedback form at elections.ca, at your polling place or speak to an election worker at your polling place or call EC at 1-800-463-6868 or TTY 1-800-361-8935. CCD encourages voters with disabilities to give feedback to EC about where they need to improve their service and what is working well to ensure the continuation of good practices.
EC will be hiring people to work during the election. To work in an election, you need to:
- Be a Canadian citizen.
- Be at least 16 years old (priority given to 18 or older).
- Live in the riding where you will be working (for most jobs).
- Remain non-partisan.
Areas Not Covered By the Elections Act:
- Accessibility to campaign offices.
- Accessibility at all candidates meetings.
- Coverage of disability related costs as a candidate.
Some Issues to Raise
You may wish to ask candidates their party's position on:
- Making the DTC fully refundable.
- New employment initiatives.
- Reinstatement of the Court Challenges Program.
- Implementation of the CRPD in Canada.
- Making ASL/LSQ an official language.
- Safeguards against doctor-assisted suicide.
Make your voice and your vote count in this election!