West NH is getting out the vote — and you can, too! - West Neighbourhood House

A group of Tibetan-Canadian seniors and volunteers participate in a “Getting to know your government” workshop at 20 West Lodge. Photo: Mariana Jerez

All Canadian citizens who are at least 18 years old have the right to vote in the federal election coming up on Monday, Oct. 21, 2019. But lots of eligible voters — 44 per cent in the last election! — don’t show up to the polls.

Figuring out how and when to vote, let alone who to vote for, can be overwhelming for anyone. But if you’re living with a disability or don’t have ID or a permanent address, accessing the ballot can feel downright impossible or just not worth the trouble.

Through games like “Democracy Bingo,” participants learn about how they can have an impact on the democratic process — from voting to signing petitions to writing elected representatives. Photo: Mariana Jerez

That’s why West Neighbourhood House is working with community partners to host a series of events around Toronto’s west end to help our members learn how and when they can vote, regardless of their circumstances. We’re even providing Letters of Confirmation to help people without a permanent address register to vote.

Just as importantly, we’re learning why voting matters. Not caring about politics is the most common reason Canadians neglect to vote. But it doesn’t have to be that way!

In an interactive and playful way, workshop leaders and volunteers explain the responsibilities of different levels of government and how voting lets our voices be heard on issues that affect the people in our neighbourhood, from immigration and refugee rights to prescription drug coverage and climate change.

Participants also get a chance to play around with Vote Compass, a handy online quiz anyone can use to figure out which federal political party shares their views.

Patrick, a West NH volunteer, and Gabriela Russek, co-ordinator of community development, lead a workshop session in partnership with the Parkdale People’s Economy Project. Photo: Mariana Jerez

How to vote — no matter what

Worried you or someone you know might face a barrier to voting? We’ve put together some information to make voting easy.

To find out when and where to vote:

– Check the Voter Information Card you got in the mail
– Visit the Voter Information Service at elections.ca, or
– Call Elections Canada at 1-800-463-6868

If you have proof of your identity and address, bring it with you on election day. You can show one piece of government-issued photo ID with your name and address, like a driver’s licence. Or you can show a different kind of ID, like a credit card, plus proof of your address, such as a bank statement or utility bill.

If you don’t have a permanent address, you can get a staff member at a shelter, long-term care home, student residence or community meal program to print out and sign a Letter of Confirmation of Residence form (found here). This letter confirms you live in the area and are eligible to vote. There’s no limit to the number of letters one staff member can sign. Bring the letter with you on election day. You will still need to show a piece of ID with your name on it, such as a health card. Your name on the ID needs to match your name on the letter.

Click here to learn more about the types of ID you can use.

If you don’t have ID, you can bring someone with you to the polls on election day who can vouch for you. That person will need to be able to prove their identity and address. The person you bring can only vouch for one person.

If you speak French, you can access the vote in your official language.

If you work during the time polls are open, your employer must make sure you have three hours off to vote.

If you live with varying abilities, you can still vote (and you should!). If you need a large-print ballot, a magnifier, a list of candidates in Braille, or a voting booth with lots of light, just ask at your polling station on election day. You can even bring someone with you to help you mark your ballot.

If you need other help, like a sign-language interpreter, or you have a disability and want to make sure your polling station is accessible to you, call Elections Canada at 1-800-463-6868 as soon as possible to make sure you can vote on election day.

Click here to learn more about voting with a disability.

West NH needs your help. Please spread the word and help us get out the vote!

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