Elections Canada website glitches show some voters as unregistered
Long-time voters find themselves suddenly unlisted; Elections Canada insists it's just an online error
Elections Canada's website is wrongly telling some rural voters that they're not registered to vote in the upcoming federal election, despite many of them actually being registered.
Colleen MacQuarrie has lived in the same house in Mount Tryon, P.E.I, for 20 years, and she's a regular voter. But that's not what the website told her.
"Other people were having difficulty. I thought, 'I'm sure I'll have no difficulty,' because I've not moved and have voted in the past," she told the CBC's Maritime Noon radio show.
"I was very surprised to find that, indeed, I'm not in the system. I was told that I need to do a little bit more work in order to get to vote. I'm certainly going to do the work to get to vote but it was very, very, upsetting to find out that Elections Canada doesn't have my name in the system."
MacQuarrie said some people may not take the effort.
"I don't think this is a glitch at all, because who in their right mind would design a system that wouldn't — in a nation that is comprised of a lot of rural voters — that wouldn't incorporate rural voters? That's ridiculous," she said.
Online problems? Call 1-800-463-6868
Francoise Enguehard, a spokeswoman with Elections Canada, said the agency is aware of problems some Canadians may have confirming their registration status on the new website.
She said it's the first time the website has been made available.
"There are some cases where the system will not accommodate some of the rural numbers. It is written plainly when you go to register and we apologize for that," she said.
"That doesn't mean that people are not registered or that people won't be able to vote. The e-registration was put there to try and simplify the registration, or for people to check [their registration status] for the first time, to check if they're registered or to update their address."
Enguehard said anyone who encounters a problem should visit an Elections Canada office or call 1-800-463-6868.
"I'm very sorry if it causes confusion. That's why at the beginning of the process, when people actually click to register online, people are warned that for some people it may not work," she said.
"We are concerned about anybody being turned off going to vote. … They are very isolated cases in rural areas where people cannot choose the service."
'Democracy depends upon it'
After Maritime Noon's broadcast aired, CBC received emails from other who have had the same problem.
"I checked it this morning (having voted from this address in three previous federal elections) and the website could not confirm that I am registered," said Joan Boutillier.
"I live in Wolfville, hardly a 'rare and isolated' part of the province. It is very important that all potential voters have an opportunity to exercise their franchise — democracy depends upon it."
Charlotte Wilson-Hammond of Clam Harbour, N.S., said she has voted from the same address for more than 40 years.
"When filling in my info, the choice of roads in this area was incorrect. I live on 'Beach Road' and there is only a 'Clam Harbour Beach Road' listed. There is no such road as far as I'm aware," she told CBC News. "Very frustrating."