My friend, Peter, spent election day stopping a phone scammer, knocking on endless doors, and watching a ballot count as Canada peacefully elected its 44rd federal parliament yesterday. His excellent storytelling turned what I had always imagined to be a thankless job seem like fun.
Dropped by the Elections Canada office at the County Fair Mall yesterday afternoon to find out how to arrange a mail-in ballot for my mother for the October 21 federal election. We did this for the spring provincial election and it eliminated a lot of stress for us like potentially having to travel to the polls in poor weather or standing in long lines.
Two extremely efficient and pleasant women greeted me. All I had to do was give them my mother’s name and mailing address and they would arrange for a voting package to be mailed to her. We were done in a couple of minutes and I stood up to leave.
The woman who took my mother’s information asked me if I would like to vote. I thought she was asking if I intended to vote, but she said she meant I could vote right then and there. I had time, there was no one else in the office, so I gave her my ID, she consulted a computer list, and handed me a ballot.
It was a blank ballot, with just a line on it, no names or little circles to mark. She directed me to the standard white cardboard screen voting booth. Taped to the inside was a list of the four confirmed candidates for my riding in alphabetical order. I was to write the name of my choice on the ballot with the little pencil that was in the booth.
I wrote in my choice, exited the booth, folded the ballot, placed it in an envelope, sealed that envelope with one of those wand-like water-filled sponge envelope sealers, placed that envelope into another envelope, which I signed, dated and sealed, and placed that envelope in a ballot box.
Interesting to note that nominations only close on Monday, September 30, so there is a possibility someone else will come forward before that date. As the four candidates on the list represented the main Canadian parties, I can’t imagine I would have changed my vote anyway, but it is too late to worry about that now.
I wondered afterwards if voting this way would be possible for someone who couldn’t write, for example, but it seems as though Elections Canada has addressed this and many other potential challenges already, and have developed excellent materials that can be shared to educate people on the many accessible voting options.
Steven voted as well, and as I waited for him to finish, the other woman showed me the ballot package she had prepared for my mother. Once the printed ballots were ready, it would be popped in the mail, my mother could vote, and we would either drop her envelope in the mail or take it into their office.
It kind of felt like an “only in PEI” type of thing, very loose and easy, but now that I look it up they were following Elections Canada guidelines for a special ballot.
While many people in the world face huge barriers to casting their vote, I was made to feel like my vote mattered, that accommodating me was the most important job those women had. How lucky we are.