British Columbia

'It's frustrating': Vancouverite living in the U.K. says ballot never arrived

A Supreme Court decision earlier this year ruled all Canadian expats had a right to vote, regardless of how long they've been living abroad.

Elections Canada says it's received a 'handful of reports' about expats having trouble voting

On Monday, Oct. 21, Canadians will vote to decide which party they want to lead the country for the next four years, but some Canadian expats say their ballots never arrived. (Chris Young/The Canadian Press)

Victor Bomers, 31, was excited to vote for the first time since moving to the United Kingdom to live in London nine years ago. 

Supreme Court decision earlier this year made it possible for Canadian expats to vote, no matter how long they have been abroad. Previous legislation, enacted in 1993, barred expats from voting if they had lived outside the country for more than five years.

Bomers says the ruling made him feel re-connected with Canada. But his celebration was short-lived. Despite registering online, his ballot never arrived. 

Elections Canada staff told him his ballot had been sent, but they couldn't tell him why it never arrived, Bomers said. 

By then it was too late.

"I think that's the most frustrating part," Bomers added. "I mean I haven't been actively denied my vote, but effectively that's what happened."

'A handful of reports'

In an email sent to Bomers by the High Commission of Canada in London, staff say it appears Bomers wasn't the only one to experience problems.

"We have heard some reports from other prospective voters who advise that they registered in September but did not receive their ballots," reads the email from consular services. 

Elections Canada confirms staff have received "a handful of reports" of expats not receiving their ballots but would not provide any figures. 

"I am just one data point but the fact that it sounds like this has affected others is a bit disappointing and it is also frustrating to not be able to vote," Bomers added. He says one of his close friends from Ottawa, who also lives in London, had the same issue. 

The exact number of people affected won't be known until after the election, said Elections Canada, adding the number is "very, very small in relation to how many special ballot voting kits were sent out." 

Out of options

In a last-ditch effort to vote, Bomers reached out to the High Commission of Canada in London, but was told it wasn't possible to vote there.

"As a Commonwealth citizen living in the U.K. I'm able to vote for a number of things here," Bomers explained. "So given that I was able to vote in the Brexit referendum, for example, it's frustrating that I can't vote in the Canadian Election."


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