A student voter’s guide

It’s already October and the federal election is coming up!

The federal election this October is fast approaching, and with it, comes the opportunity for those of us of age to cast our ballot for the leaders of our country for the next four years. For many of us at Trent, this will be the first time we will be able to vote in the federal election, and for others, it will have been a few years since the last election. You may have heard that there have been some changes to the requirements and policies regarding voting this year that will complicate the process. Whether or not you have been actively following the election process, are unfamiliar with it, or just plain rusty, this article will provide you with all the information you need to know about how you can vote this year,oww H where and when you can do it, and what you will need to bring with you for when you get there.

How to Vote
Before you decide how or when you will vote, you will have to read over your Voter Information Card. This will have been mailed to your home address by October 1, and it will hold important information regarding where you will need to go to vote on election day – October 19!All of us should have some image of what voting on election day will be like, lining up to get your ballot and making your mark behind the privacy booth.

For most, this will be how we cast our vote but there will be a handful of options available to voters this year, including the advanced poll dates, through the mail, and in-person at an Elections Canada office.

If you have no problem making it to the riding of your home address for October 19, then all the information you need will be found on your Voter Information Card.

On your card, it will state what number your voting booth will be and the address of the building where you will be voting. For example, booth number nine of the
Northumberland-Peterborough South electoral district is located in the Campbellford public high school.

Hours of voting this year have slightly changed, with booths open for voting at 9:30AM, and the doors will be locked at 9:30PM.

All buildings rented by Elections Canada will have directions posted on the walls, guaranteed to be accessible, and an information officer will be present to direct you and answer any questions you may have on the day.

Should the normal election date prove to be too hard to work around, or if you will be home between October 9 to the 12, then the next option to consider is the advanced poll. Your information card will also tell you the location of the advance polls for your voting district, and all of the advance polls will be open on the same days regardless of your electoral district.

The hours for voting on advanced polls will be slightly different than the main day, opening at noon and closing at 8pm.

The third option available to you is to vote by mail, and for those of us unable to travel several hours to get home to vote, this may be the best choice. In order to vote by mail, you must first apply to be accepted for this service, and once accepted, you will receive your special ballot kit that you must mail back. A special ballot kit is essentially a single ballot with its own pair of envelopes to protect the confidentiality of your vote. The application to vote by mail can be found on the Elections Canada website (www.elections.ca) but you can also apply in-person at any Elections Canada office. Should this not work for you, you can also apply over the phone toll-free at 1-800-463-6868 from 7AM to midnight.

The deadline to apply for mail voting is October 13 and your ballot must reach Elections Canada by October 19. It is very important to note that if you apply for this service and are accepted, you MUST vote this way and will be unable to do so at the advanced polls or the main election day, so be sure that you will be unable to vote on those days before applying.

If none of these options work…

If these options still do not make the vote accessible to you, there is still a fourth chance left. You may vote in-person at an Elections Canada office and this will also be done with a special ballot kit. The local elections office for Peterborough is the Erskine building, found at 770 Erskine Avenue. Here, you will fill in the riding you are registered to vote in so that your vote will count for where you are registered, even if you visit an office in a different riding. As with voting by mail, the deadline to vote at your closest elections office is October 13 by 6PM. The regular office hours are Monday to Friday 9AM to 9PM, Saturday 9AM to 6PM, and Sunday noon to 4PM. Just the same as the special ballot used in voting by mail, if you choose to vote by this special ballot, you will be unable to vote at the advanced polls or the main day.

Regardless of how you choose to vote, you should make sure that you go over what ID you will need to bring with you to the booth. Contrary to rumours of increased difficulty in voting this year, you should find that you have a great many choices in the documentation you can bring. You will not need to prove that you are of age to vote, nor do you need to prove that you are a citizen. The two key things elections staff will check for is to confirm your name, and to confirm your address.

It is recommended that you read the extensive list of potential documents on the elections website, but here, I will hope to show you just how easy it will be to vote. Following recent revisions, your first option is to bring either your driver’s license or your provincial ID card, as these provide a photo, your name, and your current address. Should you not have one of these, you can still bring in two pieces of ID that both have your name and at least one of them has your address.

This could be your debit card and utility bill, a health card and your lease agreement, or even a blood donor card and a firearms license. Additionally, voters will be able to use electronic-based documents, such as an e-statement, either printed or even on your phone. Should you be unable to provide proof of address, you are still able to have another voter who knows you from your riding, such as one of your parents, to vouch for you and make an oath of residence, though they may only do this for one person.

Special thanks to Clayton Russell for writing this article encouraging students to vote and how to get about registering in Peterborough if your current riding is somewhere else. Keep an eye out for our election coverage next Issue!