New rules for voting in federal elections – make sure you’re eligible!Uncategorized
Are you eligible to vote in the next federal election? If you’ve voted before, you probably assume so, but that might not be the case.
The Conservative Government recently made changes to the federal Elections Act that mean it will no longer be good enough to show up at the polling station with your voter card, or to point to your name on the voters’ list. You will be refused a ballot unless you can meet strict new documentation requirements. It’s important to know about these new rules now, so you can take steps to ensure you’re not prevented from voting in the next federal election.
Here’s how it will work: If you can produce government-issued ID with your photo and current address, typically a driver’s licence or BCID card, you won’t have a problem. But, for example, a Canadian passport or a First Nations Status Card will not qualify because they do not show an address. If you don’t have a driver’s licence or provincial ID card, you’ll have to provide two pieces of identification from a list authorized by Elections Canada, at least one of which establishes your residential address. The list of ID that Elections Canada will accept is on their web site at www.electionscanada.ca click here and I have listed the information below as well.
If you don’t have the required ID, you can have another voter vouch for you, but the rules for doing this are so narrow that many people will still be ineligible.
The BC Public Interest Advocacy Centre has launched a court challenge of these changes on behalf of people most likely to be affected. click here These include seniors, the homeless, students, people with disabilities, aboriginal people, and even those who have recently moved. The NDP has also proposed an amendment to the new rules that would allow voters to swear an oath if they do not have the required ID, but it has not yet passed. click here In the meantime, another federal election could be called while these new rules are still in effect, so if you need more information about the requirements to vote, please call Elections Canada at 1-800-463-6868 or my office at 363-3600.
The changes to the Canada Elections Act mean that when you vote, you MUST prove your identity and residential address. There are three ways to do this:
Provide one original piece of identification issued by a government or government agency containing your photo, name and residential address (e.g. driver’s licence).
Provide two original pieces of identification authorized by the Chief Electoral Officer of Canada. Both pieces must contain your name, and one must also contain your residential address (e.g. health card and hydro bill).
Swear an oath and be vouched for by a registered elector who is on the list of electors in the same polling division and who has acceptable pieces of identification (e.g. a neighbour, your roommate).
Note: The pieces of identification accepted under the Canada Elections Act are not the same as those for provincial or municipal elections.
Provide one original piece of identification issued by a government or government agency containing your photo, name and residential address.
- Driver’s Licence (as long as the address is residential)
- Health Card
This applies only to Ontario
Note: Not all electors in Ontario will have cards with photo, name and residential address
- Provincial/Territorial Identification Card (non-drivers) for the provinces/territories of
- Newfoundland and Labrador
- Prince Edward Island
- Nova Scotia
- New Brunswick
- British Columbia
- Northwest Territories
Note: The above pieces of identification are examples only.
Provide two original pieces of identification authorized by the Chief Electoral Officer of Canada. Both pieces must contain your name, and one must also contain your residential address. Here is the list:
- Identity Cards
- Health Card
- Social Insurance Number Card
- Birth Certificate
- Driver’s Licence
- Canadian Passport
- Certificate of Indian Status
- Certificate of Canadian Citizenship or Citizenship Card
- Credit/Debit Card with elector name
- Canadian Forces Identity Card
- Veterans Affairs Canada Health Card
- Employee Card issued by employer
- Old Age Security Identification Card
- Public Transportation Card
- Student ID Card
- Library Card
- Liquor Identification Card
- Canadian Blood Services/Héma-Québec Card
- Hospital Card
- Fishing Licence
- Wildlife Identification Card
- Hunting Licence
- Firearm Acquisition Card/Firearm Possession Card
- Outdoors Card and Licences
- Provincial/Territorial Identification Card
- Local Community Service Centre Card (CLSC)
- Original documents (containing name and residential address)
- Credit Card Statement
- Bank Statement
- Utility Bill (residential telephone, cable TV, public utilities commission, hydro, gas or water)
- Local Property Tax Assessment
- School, College or University Report Card or Transcript
- Residential Lease, Residential Mortgage Statement or Agreement
- Canada Child Tax Benefit Statement
- Income Tax Assessment Notice
- Insurance Policy
- Government Cheque or Government Cheque Stub with elector name
- Statement of Employment Insurance Benefits Paid (T4E)
- Canada Pension Plan Statement of Contributions/Quebec Pension Plan Statement of Participation
- Statement of Old Age Security (T4A) or Statement of Canada Pension Plan Benefits (T4AP)
- Statement of Benefits from provincial workplace safety or insurance board
- Statement of Direct Deposit for provincial works or provincial disability support program
- Vehicle Ownership
- Vehicle Insurance
- Attestation of Residence issued by the responsible authorities (shelters, soup kitchens, student/senior residences, long-term care facilities, Aboriginal reserves, work camps)
- “Residential address” refers to a civic address, not a mailing address or any other non-residential address.
- A document bearing an address may be used as proof of the elector’s residential address if this address was written by the issuer of the document and is the same as the address on the list of electors. No document other than those included on this list may be accepted to establish the name and residential address of an elector.
You can be vouched for by an elector whose name appears on the list of electors in the same polling division and who has acceptable pieces of identification. Both will be required to make a sworn statement. An elector cannot vouch for more than one person, and the person who has been vouched for cannot vouch for another elector.
To have your name added to the voters’ list contact Elections Canada at 1-800-463-6868. A form will be mailed to you that you must fill out and mail back in the postage-paid envelope, together with photocopies of the required identification documents. Your name will automatically be added to the voters list if you are registered with Elections BC or if you ticked the appropriate box on your income tax return. There would be delays with the information being transferred, however, so to be sure your name gets on the list it is a good idea to fill out the Elections Canada form.