ELECTION 2015: Voting 101 – federal edition

Courtenay-Alberni: Election day might not be until Monday, Oct. 19 but it’s already time for voters to get their own affairs in order.

ELECTION 2015: Voting 101 - federal edition

Election day might not be until Monday, Oct. 19 but it’s already time for voters to get their own affairs in order—namely, to make sure you can vote in the 42nd federal election.

First and foremost it’s important to make sure you’re registered, according to Elections Canada spokesperson Dorothy Sitek.

“You must be registered to vote,” Sitek said.

“There are a variety of ways that you might be registered already.”

If you filed your income taxes this year, there was an opt-in box to be added to the national list of electors, Sitek said.

“There are a number of ways Elections Canada tried to keep abreast of your current information,” she added.

If you’re not sure however, the Elections Canada website has a tool to make sure you are.

“For the first time on www.elections.ca there is a tool where you can input all of your information and you can check whether you’re registered and if you’re registered under your current address and correct information,” Sitek said. If the information there is incorrect, you can change it on the site.

If you’d rather not update your information online, you can go to your local elections office.

“Voters should be looking out for their voter information cards in the mail,” said Sitek.

“So it’s a really great time to make sure your information is correct.”

You can do so by visiting your elections office. The one in Port Alberni is on 4805 Mar St. at Fifth Avenue uptown and can be reached by phone at 1-866-499-8028.

It’s important to make sure that the information on the voter information card matches the I.D. you use to vote, said Sitek.

The voter information cards contain a variety of essential information, said Sitek, including information on where and when to vote.

“On election day, Oct. 19, you’re assigned a specific polling location.”

Unlike in provincial elections, you cannot go to any polling station on election day or during advance voting days—you may only go to the station that you have been assigned to.

Your polling station location will likely be different for election day than it is for advanced voting, Sitek added.

“Advanced polling for this federal election is over Thanksgiving weekend (Friday, Oct. 9 to Monday, Oct. 12),” said Sitek.

That’s an extra day compared to the last election, said Sitek.

Whether you vote early or on Oct. 19, you must make sure you have the correct identification. Three options exist: you can bring a piece of government I.D. with your name, photo and current address; this includes a driver’s licence or a provincial services card.

If you don’t have one of those, you need two pieces; one with your name and another with both your name and address.

To prove your name, the I.D. can be anything from your passport to social insurance number card to a library card. To prove your current address, you can bring a credit card or utility bill, a personal cheque with your address on it or a variety of other options.

If you have nothing with a current address on it, you must bring two pieces of I.D. with your name on both of them as well as someone who knows you and lives in your polling area. That individual may then vouch for your address.

For those without a fixed address, another option exists.

“There is a form called a ‘letter of confirmation of residence,’” said Sitek.

It’s downloadable from the Elections Canada site and provides a way to register to vote for those living without a specific address (for example, in a group home) or the homeless.

“You can go to your facility administrator and you can request that they fill out and sign the form,” she said.

“If you’re homeless but you frequent a soup kitchen or a specific shelter you can request that administrator download and fill out the form for you.”

Regardless of how you prove your identity, a voter information card with your current address will make voting faster.

“If you have the voter information card and the right I.D., you can be fast tracked and your experience will be more efficient.”