Canada election 2015: Vote now at any Elections Canada office
Eligible voters can cast vote at any Elections Canada office by special ballot until Oct. 13 at 6 p.m.
Canada's election is two weeks away, but you don't have to wait until Oct. 19 or the advance polls to vote.
Eligible voters can cast their ballots at any Elections Canada office until Oct. 13 at 6 p.m., through what's called a special ballot. Here are some things to know about this third way to vote:
What is a special ballot?
Any voter who cannot or doesn't wish to vote at a polling station during an election can choose this option. With a special ballot, an elector can vote by mail or in person at an Elections Canada office.
The process is slightly different from voting at a poll on election day or at the advance polls from Oct. 9 to 12.
How does it work?
Anyone voting by special ballot and doing so early enough will receive a blank ballot, and this is what you do:
- Consult the Elections Canada page to find out the name of the candidate in your riding you who like to choose.
- Write the first and last name of your chosen candidate.
Writing the name of just the party of the candidate you are voting for isn't enough — if you only write down the party, your vote wouldn't count.
"It's a two-step process," said John S. Loch, returning officer for the riding of Halifax West.
First, the Elections Canada team verifies whether you're on the voting list. Just showing up with your voting card won't speed up the process. The second step is to actually vote.
What ID does a voter need?
"All that card does is tell you where to vote. It doesn't give you any other credentials whatsoever," said Loch.
Regardless of whether you have a voting card, you can show up with a piece of photo ID (such as a driver's licence) or two pieces of ID (such as a health card, Canadian passport or birth certificate) with at least one showing a current address.
There's even a third option: If you don't have ID that shows your current address, you can have a friend attest to where you live.
That friend must show proof of identity and address, and you'll still have to show two pieces of ID with your name on them.
A 21st-century twist on acceptable ID is that e-statements and e-invoices are accepted. You can either print them off or show them on your mobile device, says Loch.
What are the benefits of voting by special ballot?
Because of the need to verify you're on the voting list, the special ballot process takes a little longer, about 11 minutes on average, says Loch, compared to about five minutes when voting at a regular poll.
There's a definite benefit, though, to voting by special ballot.
"The lineups are certainly not as long," says Loch.
He says a big line at an Elections Canada office might have about six people in it.
When is Elections Canada open?
They're open seven days a week:
- 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday to Friday.
- 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Saturday.
- noon to 4 p.m. Sunday.
Loch says special ballot voting in Halifax West is on the rise compared to the previous election. As of late Friday afternoon, about 500 people had cast their ballots this way, compared to about 600 in 2011.
However, Loch says the final number will likely be similar to the numbers in 2004 and 2006, when about 900 people voted by special ballot.