A former leader of the Nova Scotia Liberal Party was prevented, for several days, from casting his ballot in the upcoming federal election because he didn't have the required identification under the new Fair Elections Act.

Vince MacLean lives in Northside East Bay, about a 20-minute drive from Sydney, and went to the local returning office last week to vote. People can vote at Elections Canada offices until Oct. 13.

With the 2008 federal election, the government started requiring all voters — including those on the list of registered voters — to present government-issued ID with an address before casting a ballot.

Vince MacLean

Vince MacLean lives in Northside East Bay. He was the leader of the Nova Scotia Liberal Party during the late 1980s. (Wendy Martin/CBC)

"I went down to the returning office to vote last week with my driver's licence and a wallet full of ID," said MacLean.

"Unfortunately I could not vote because none of them had my civic address on it, even though everyone there knew I lived in Northside East Bay."

MacLean lives in a rural area and his mail is delivered to a post office box. Earlier on Friday, he said he went through his correspondence to try to find a piece with his civic address, but it was all addressed to his post office box.

By Friday afternoon, MacLean found a power bill with his street address on it and was able to cast his ballot.

The Fair Elections Act gives voters the option to take an oath, if their ID does not have their current address.

In that case, the voter must present two pieces of ID, and have someone who knows that person and attest to his or her address. That person must also show proof of identity and address, and be registered in the same polling division.

Elections Canada said voters can use identification with a P.O. box, rural route or general delivery as their address, as long as that address has already been registered with Elections Canada.

The Elections Canada website explains how to update registration information.

Election day is Oct. 19.


  • This story has been updated from a previous version that incorrectly stated photo ID was required to cast a ballot on Oct. 19. In fact, while government-issued photo ID showing your address, such as a driver's license, is the best option, you can vote by presenting two pieces of acceptable ID including at least one that includes your current address. See www.elections.ca for other options.
    Sep 13, 2015 4:49 PM AT