Saskatchewan

Sask. senior denied vote because of dementia

An official with Elections Canada says an enumerator was wrong to exclude an elderly Saskatchewan woman from the voters list because of a medical condition.
Jan Zurowski is upset her mother Irma could not cast a ballot at an advance poll after learning she was not registered because of a medical condition. (CBC)

An official with Elections Canada says an enumerator was wrong to exclude an elderly Saskatchewan woman from the voters list because of a medical condition.

Irma Zurowski, 86, discovered she could not vote when she went to an advance polling station and was told she was not registered.

Zurowski lives in a Regina care home and a caregiver there explained to CBC News that Zurowski has a form of dementia.

However, the woman's condition was not readily apparent when she spoke to CBC News about her experience trying to cast a ballot.

"They said I couldn't vote," Zurowski said as she left the polling station Monday. "That's never happened before."

The caregiver added that when an Elections Canada official visited to register the home's residents, the official asked who was capable of voting. Some people, including Zurowski, were not registered because of their mental condition.

"The enumerator who went around to her care home chose not to enumerate everybody in the home," Jan Zurowski, the woman's daughter, said. "He decided who was fit to be enumerated and to vote, and who wasn't. My mother wasn't enumerated. So, I'm not very happy about that."

An official from Elections Canada told CBC News a person's medical condition is not a factor for creating the voters list.

"It's really if the elector is able to express their willingness to participate in the process," John Enright told CBC News. "Their willingness to register and their willingness to vote. That's the only determination that the act requires."

Enright said an official should only ask basic questions about age and citizenship and not probe beyond those areas.

"Are you 18? Are you a Canadian citizen? And that's really the extent of the questions," Enright said. "So if the person is able to answer those questions, either by themselves — and let's not forget electors can vote with assistance — so a friend or a relative can assist them in this."

Jan Zurowski was not present when the Elections Canada official visited the care home.

She told CBC News she plans to look into the matter and ensure her mother will get to vote on election day, which is on Monday, May 2.