The right to vote

Voting in Canada never ceases to amaze me. You have to understand, I come from a country where the vote is obligatory between the ages of 18 and 70 and the system to vote is highly complicated and bureaucratic. It’s almost like they don’t want you to vote. You can only vote on the day of the election, at the place where you are registered as an elector. If you move, you have to transfer your “vote residency” to the place where you live otherwise you can’t vote. The catch is – this move needs to be done months, if not years in advance of election day.

I moved to Spain in April/2006. There were presidential elections in Brazil in October/2006. Before I even left Toronto, I went to the consulate to find out how could I vote in Spain. I was told I missed the deadline to change my electoral address. I think that was about a year before the election.

In Canada, I’m not obligated to vote. Because of that, not only candidates have to work harder to convince you to go out and vote for them but the actual voting system is much less complicated. There are advance polling stations in case you might be busy on election day and want to vote ahead of time. You can vote through the mail. And election officials go door-to-door handing in voting cards and ensuring you are on the voting list. I wasn’t. Actually, I was but they had me under my old address so they couldn’t give me my voting card. But there’s no fuss. You can either contact the election office designated for your area and get on the list up to a week before the election or you can simply show up at your polling station on election day with two pieces of ID and they put you on the list and you are allowed to vote.

That’s what happened to me yesterday. Even though my name had been crossed off the list, they were still able to rectify that and I was able to exercise my right to vote. Yes, because it is my right not my duty and as my right, it can’t be denied because of bureaucracy.

On another note – this will be the last post this week as I’m trying to get some work done on my thesis.