Montreal

Disabled people still face challenges in casting a ballot

People with disabilities still face challenges when it comes to exercising their right to vote in the federal election, an advocacy group says.

Montreal-based advocacy group says Elections Canada needs to do more to make polls accessible

Elections Canada says it can be difficult to find buildings that are accessible to everyone. (Graham Hughes/Canadian Press)

Millions of Canadians have already cast their ballots in advance polling in the federal election, but a group of activists says people with disabilities are still facing challenges when it comes to exercising their right to vote.

RAPLIQ, a Montreal-based advocacy group for people with disabilities, says Elections Canada is not doing enough to make polling stations accessible.

Spokeswoman Linda Gauthier says some locations marked as accessible have problems such as an elevator that's too small for a wheelchair.

Lise Pigeon, who lives in Montreal's Rosemont neighbourhood, said that when she found out her polling station was not fully accessible, Elections Canada suggested she go to an advance polling station instead — an idea she opposed.

"I don't want to. I want to vote with everybody else," she told CBC News.

Pigeon said it's her right to vote on Oct. 19.

After she insisted, Elections Canada allowed her to transfer to another polling location for voting day.

Elections Canada spokeswoman Francine Bastien said that sometimes finding a place that fits all 35 accessibility criteria is impossible.

"If the building that would fit all the criteria is not available, then it's not available," Bastien said.

She said some difficulties arise because Elections Canada can't reserve polling locations until an election is officially called.

Elections Canada has a detailed accessibility policy on its website and says it has been "implementing a series of initiatives to continue improving the accessibility of the electoral process."

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