British Columbia

Elections Canada mistake leaves B.C. resident skeptical

Cortes Island resident Scott Onstott wasn't expecting to need a private boat to get to his assigned polling station on election day.

Cortes Island resident told to vote on nearby inaccessible island — or 300 kilometres away

The voting card that a Cortes Island resident received indicated he would need to vote in Refuge Cove, which is not accessible by public ferry.

A Cortes Island resident says he's skeptical of the electoral process after a voting card mix-up indicated he would need a private boat to get to his polling station.

Scott Onstott said the voter information card he received in the mail pointed him to nearby Refuge Cove on voting day, on an island with no public ferry service — a difficult proposition for a man who doesn't own a boat.

"I was kind of dumb-founded because I've voted on Cortes Island before," said Onstott.

The card also said the polling station is wheelchair-accessible. In fact, voters would need to be able to get out of their boats and onto a dock.

Adding to the confusion is the fact that Onstott said he hasn't changed addresses since he last voted.

He said he phoned the Elections Canada number on the back of the card, and they told him if he couldn't make it to Refuge Cove on election day, he could go to Bella Bella instead — a remote town 300 kilometres away on B.C.'s northern coast.

However, he said when he tried a different number, an Elections Canada staffer told him there was a mistake on the card, and they would soon be reissued. 

One of many mix-ups

Elections Canada has acknowledged there was a problem with the cards.

"Some of the (voter information cards) that were issued are incorrect, and they will be rectified," said Debbie Fraser with Elections Canada.

"They should receive new cards in the next few days."

Fraser added that voters on Cortes Island can cast advance ballots in Campbell River on Vancouver Island, if they so choose. 

But Onstott said the mistake has cost him his confidence in the electoral body.

"It makes me a little skeptical to even trust what they say now," he said.

"That's why I'm kind of thinking I'll go to Campbell River and take two ferries to vote — because this is important."

Onstott said he's concerned that his fellow Cortes Island residents may not have picked up on the mistake. 

"There's a lot of confusion. A lot of people, myself included, didn't even look at the card," he said. "I just assumed it would be correct."

The mistake is one of many mix-ups Elections Canada has had to deal with in the past few weeks. 

Voters in Saskatchewan, Yukon and Quebec have also received voting cards with incorrect information.


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