So you want to vote… #elxn42

Well, it’s that time again, where people are urging you to vote….or else!

The 42nd Canadian general election aka Election 2015 aka #elxn42 kicked off during the summer. So, that’s probably why you’ve been hearing, seeing, digesting more political ads everywhere (*vomit* to an increase of Harper’s ads in Ottawa right now). During this time, you probably had some lovely (or maybe not so lovely) volunteers come knock on your door or call your phone (and maybe even your cell phone, which causes you to question how they got the number to begin with) telling why you should vote for a particular candidate. Thankfully, I live in an apartment building and none of that shit happens. Also, my cell phone is still a London, Ontario area code and the only calls I receive are those asking for donations: “Yup, you got my support.” And well, the people who do call my phone (normally Liberal volunteers) do have my support (full disclosure: I voted for my Liberal candidate this past Saturday at the Canada Elections office for my riding).

Riding?

Polling station?

Voting?

What does it all mean!

Yes, there are a large number of people urging others to vote (essentially to vote out Harper). I agree, we should all vote but I’m not here to tell you what you should do or who you should vote for. Rather, I am writing this post to help lay out the “how to cast your ballot” aka vote in simple terms without all the background noise on which party you should vote for.

In order to vote, you must be 18 years old by October 19 and a Canadian citizen. There are also some new rules that seem confusing as hell and nobody can really give a clear answer when you ask them outright. But since I just voted recently and I was also concerned about these new rules (whatever the fuck they mean), I’ll do my best to make it clear about what I was concerned about, how I voted and hopefully you can use these steps to also cast a ballot for a candidate of your choosing (in your riding obviously and also that’s if you want to vote–because not voting is just as an equally valid response to this election too).

The basics:

  1. You must be at least 18 years old (by election day which is October 19)
  2. You must be a Canadian citizen
  3. You must be able to prove your identity AND address

The main thing I was concerned about:

  1. How to vote by having to prove my identity and address when I have limited options about the type of things that prove my address

Other things I was concerned about:

  1. Being turned away at the polling station because of the main thing I was concerned about

The first time I voted was during the last election. I was 25 years old. I know, I know, you must be thinking, “what the hell? why should I listen to you?” The first time I tried voting I just turned 18 and I was new to the entire process. I didn’t know what it meant to “register to vote” or what it meant to “vote in your riding” and thus, I missed out on the opportunity to vote. Then next time the election happened, I couldn’t prove my address (hello, homelessness!) and so, I couldn’t vote. By the third election happened came around, I still didn’t understand the “register to vote” and I missed the opportunity to vote again. Finally, at 25 years, I ended up voting after I understood what it meant to “register to vote” and “vote in your riding.” I talked to some political friends and they were instrumental in helping me understand the entire process (and they still are helpful to me in many ways).

And so, we are here and it is election time and everyone is shouting “vote!” But really, what does that even mean?!

  1. You have to register in your riding to vote
    1. What does this mean? Well, all this means is that the place where you call “home” is your riding. You find out what riding you are in by doing the following:
      1. Find your postal code
      2. Enter your postal code where it says “type your postal code”
      3. Write down riding information
        1. At this point, if you entered the correct postal code, you will be brought to a page with a bunch of different links. Some important links to pay attention include the link showing your “Elections Canada office” (where you can vote in advance of Election day and advancing voting, on advanced voting days or on Election day, which is October 19). I had a friend help me locate the Elections Canada Office information for my riding which is Ottawa-Centre (thank you Bryan!) and I wrote down the following information:
          1. Address of Elections Canada office, hours/days open and phone number. Then, last Saturday, I voted after I did some shopping.
        2. If you are concerned about transportation and actually getting to your Elections Canada office, then reach out to a candidate and ask for some help. You can view your riding’s candidates’ information by clicking on the link that says “Who are the candidates in my electoral district?” under the heading “Candidates” on this same page. A lot of these candidates are mobilizing volunteers to get voters out to actually vote. It doesn’t hurt to ask…so, ask!
    2.  If you are concerned with things like identification, then refer to this page to see what kind of identification your polling station accepts.
      1. As noted above, this was one of my major concerns. I asked everyone I could about what I could do and I also reviewed the identification page. I ended up bringing my latest prescription which has my riding’s address on it and I also brought an electronic copy of my latest utility bill (and for good measure, my internet bill). I always get nervous because I think back to that time I was 18 and was turned away…but if you have anything that helps proves your identification AND address, you are more than likely good to go.

The shitty part about some of these rules is when people can’t prove their identity AND address (like homeless folks). I’ve been there and done all of that. It’s not fun. So, I just say this from a place of love and respect: respect a person’s decision not to vote (even if they enjoy that right to its fullest as a Canadian citizen who can prove their identity AND address) and respect that some people just can’t vote (even though they want to). If you know someone who is in this situation (can’t prove their identity AND address), reach out to help them in anyway you can. I’m not sure how you can help but I know what would helped me when I was NFA (no fixed address, even though I “lived” in the area aka riding) was having someone explain to me the process, help me navigate terms/rules, and it probably would have helped if people were less shame-y/judge-y about me not voting until I was 25. Also, reach out to your riding’s candidates. They will be eager to help and answer any questions!

Respect and love.

Also, don’t forget to check out these resources:

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2 thoughts on “So you want to vote… #elxn42

  1. I’m curious if you have electronic voting machines. If they spit out a paper so you can see your vote and if its accurate.

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