Voting 101

With less than four weeks until Canadians head to the polls to decide the 42nd federal election, it’s time to start thinking about the logistics of voting. The voter turnout in the past federal elections have been less than dismal, at 61.1 per cent in 2011, and an all-time low of 58.8 per cent in 2008. In hopes of removing the barriers preventing Canadians from voting and improving voter turnout, here is your no-excuse guide on how to vote:

1. Be informed
Many reasons have been identified as to why Canadians don’t vote, but we at A\J think lack of political knowledge shouldn’t be one of them. Lots of resources help simplify determining where political parties stand on different issues. Here are a few:

  • Macleans has a webpage dedicated to outlining the views of each main political party, on issues such as Syrian refugees, terrorism, climate change, childcare, pension, taxes and more.
  • The Globe and Mail published an article on where the parties stand on economic issues such as tax, energy and manufacturing.
  • National Post summarizes the platforms of each main political party and has conveniently broken it down to key issues from the economy to aboriginal issues.

If reading long articles isn’t your thing, there are other ways to get informed on a time crunch:

  • ISideWith.com created a quiz to match users with their ideal political candidate by assessing user beliefs and party platforms.
  • CBC has an interactive webpage comparing your views on topics such as health care and foreign policy, to the platforms of each political party.

2. Find out where home is
Once you’ve advanced your political knowledge and have at least an idea of which party you want to vote for, the next step is figuring out what riding you’ll vote in. This is particularly important for many post-secondary students, as your permanent address may be in your hometown but you’re currently living somewhere else. You may consider your new city or town to be your permanent residence. Whichever you decide, use that address when you register to vote, as your home address determines your riding.

3. Make sure you’re registered to vote
If you are over 18 years old and a Canadian citizen, you’re eligible to vote. However, it’s important to check that you’re registered, especially if this is your first election or have recently moved and/or became a Canadian citizen. Elections Canada has a super easy way to check if you’re registered, update your home address in your registration or register for the first time.

4. Be prepared (RE: documentation)
It’s best to know what documents you need before you vote. In order to vote you need to prove your identity and home address. Elections Canada gives us three options:

  • Show one piece of government-issued ID with your photo, name and address. This could be a driver’s license. Other types of acceptable documents for voter identification can be found here.
  • Show two pieces of ID. Each piece of ID must contain your name and one must have your address. If you are a post-secondary student and are living on campus and would like to register your school address as your home riding, you can request your residence administrator for a Letter of Confirmation of Residence.
  • Take an oath. Show two pieces of ID that contain your name and have someone who knows you attest to your address. They must also show proof of identity and address and can only attest for one person.

5. Figure out how you want to vote
Election Canada acknowledges four ways to vote in the upcoming federal election:

  • Vote on election day ­­— Monday, October 19, 2015
  • Vote on advance voting days — October 9-12, 2015
  • Vote at one of 400 Elections Canada offices
  • Vote by mail (the deadline to apply is October 13)

Are you a post-secondary student with no clue where to go? Elections Canada is opening offices at various campus, youth centres and Friendship centres as a pilot project to try and make voting more accessible for Canadians. A list of these locations can be found here, and advance voting will take place from Monday, October 5 to Thursday, October 8.

6. Vote!
If you’re voting at a polling station, Election Canada has an infographic on what you should expect on voting day.

Congratulations! You now know how to exercise your right to vote.

Learn more about voting by visiting elections.ca

Eunize Lao is the Editorial Intern and a third-year Environment and Business student at the University of Waterloo. 

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