Some northerners stymied by new voter ID rules on election day
As voters across Canada's North geared up for Tuesday's federal election, some couldn't cast their ballots in the first place, thanks to new voter registration rules that required proof of identity.
Polling officials in the Yukon and Northwest Territories told CBC News that they encountered some problems Tuesday with new voter-registration rules that require electors to show proof of identity and current address, or be vouched for by a fellow elector with their own proof.
"The new rules regarding addresses and address changes have created some difficulty with some electors," said Sean Springfield, a supervisor at a Whitehorse polling station. "Some people have been turned away."
Whitehorse resident Angel Hall said she was turned away because the identification she brought was not sufficient. It came as a blow to Hall, who said she works with young aboriginal people and had been trying to encourage people to vote.
"I was, like, really rallying people to come vote, ... people who are, like, the toughest demographic to get to come out and vote," she said. "I had to come back and say, 'I can't vote!' "
Yukon returning officer Sue Edelman said the new voter registration rules have caused some confusion.
In Inuvik, N.W.T., the new voter identification rules also caused headaches for some voters who carry official ID that shows only their post office box number, not their home street address.
"Now we have got the OK from the returning officer in Yellowknife. If their box number appears on the voters list, then a box number on their ID will be valid," said Chris Garvin, the poll supervisor in Inuvik.
"We try to err on the side of the voter so that they can cast their vote."
Garvin said that in other cases, registered voters were being asked to vouch for fellow voters who didn't have ID. Everyone on the voters list who came to vote in Inuvik was able to cast a ballot, he added.
Polling officials in Yellowknife told CBC News that the voting process went smoother than expected in the city's polling stations, although some voters were sent home to get proper identification.
Voter turnout in the 2006 election was 66 per cent in the Yukon, 56 per cent in the riding of Western Arctic and 54 per cent in Nunavut.
In the Northwest Territories, New Democrat Dennis Bevington captured the Western Arctic riding in 2006 with 42 per cent of the vote, unseating long-time Liberal MP Ethel Blondin-Andrew.
In Nunavut, Liberal Nancy Karetak-Lindell won her fourth and final parliamentary term in 2006 with just under 40 per cent of the vote, fending off challengers from the Conservatives and the NDP.
Yukon Liberal incumbent Bagnell, who has represented the Yukon riding since 2000, garnered 49 per cent of the vote to keep his seat in 2006.