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.

Author: guerson

Historian. Teacher. Knitter. Passionate for bringing people together and building bridges.

3 thoughts on “The right to vote”

  1. When I moved to Spain, the first thing I did once I had arrived was to change my electoral address. Print out a form available online, sign it, then fax it along with a copy of my Canadian passport – and voila. The same was true for Quebec.

    I even got to vote in the provincial election. Back and forth on the back of fed-ex, did my ballots go.

    I keep forgetting to change my electoral address back. They’ve even sent me a few emails to make sure I was still where I was. And what to do when I needed to change back. Voting in Canada is very easy.

    Good luck getting the thesis done. I should send you the “procrastination chart” for inspiration, if you want.

  2. And no line ups! I’m always amazed at the news coverage of elections in the US where people have to line up for hours to cast their ballot, and this seems all the more true for poor and disadvantaged neighborhoods. Sarah and I were in and out with the baby in five minutes yesterday.

  3. Do you think it has to do with the number of polling stations? Do we have more polling stations per/capita? I mean, the US obviously has a larger overall population but Toronto is a pretty big city and densities are comparable between the two countries…

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