Politics

As election day nears, what's stopping me from voting twice?

More answers to your election questions ahead of voting day including dying after voting and how campaigns use teleprompters.

Answers to what happens if you die after you vote and how campaigns use teleprompters

We're taking your election questions throughout the campaign via text message and then answering them in articles like this. (Sködt McNalty/CBC)

An estimated 4.7 million Canadians already cast a vote in the advance polls, but there are millions more votes to come on election day itself. And as these voters decide who to pick, they've had a lot of questions on their minds.

We've been on the receiving end of those questions (and scenarios) and cobbled together many answers. Here are some of the most interesting we've received since advance polls closed.

What's stopping me from voting twice?

Elections Canada says it has plenty of checks and balances in place to prevent this from happening. But it doesn't deny it is still a possibility. For example, an individual could go vote using their voter information card at one polling station and then go to another polling station and register using another address.

But in doing so, Elections Canada says the voter is declaring they have not already voted by another method. And that's an offence. If you are found guilty of intentionally requesting a second ballot, you can be fined up to $50,000 or jailed for up to five years.

The multiple votes would still count in the election as culprits likely wouldn't be caught until after, when Elections Canada cross-references names on various lists. If it suspects someone voted multiple times, it flags the issue to the Commissioner of Canada Elections, who follows up with the voter.

Before any convictions are made, Elections Canada says the commissioner checks with the voter to see if intent was there. Diane Benson, who works in media relations with Elections Canada, gives an example of a senior with dementia who may have accidentally voted twice — once at a mobile polling station at their institution and again with one of their children on election day. In this case, the senior would not be punished.

After the 2015 election, four people were charged with voting more than once. All four pleaded guilty, with various combinations of fines, probation and community service hours handed out.

Students line up to vote in advance on campus at Ryerson University in Toronto. 115 universities, colleges, CEGEPs and educational institutes took part in special ballot voting on campus. (Michael Wilson/CBC)

Can a U.S. citizen be prime minister?

Questions about Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer's dual citizenship has gotten voters thinking about other citizenship scenarios, like if a prime minister has to be Canadian at all.

It's widely accepted that in order to be a prime minister, you've got to have a seat in Parliament — after all, if you aren't an MP, you can't even be on the floor in the House of Commons when it is sitting.

In order to run as an MP, you have to be eligible to vote in the federal election, which means you need to be a Canadian citizen. There's nothing preventing individuals like Scheer who hold dual citizenship from running as an MP or becoming prime minister.

Is a kid allowed to put the vote into the ballot box after their parent casts it?

Yes, that's allowed, according to Elections Canada.

In addition to being able to come behind the voter screen, kids can put their parent's ballot directly into the box, as long as they've got permission from their parents to do so.

Liberal leader Justin Trudeau walks with his son Xavier to the ballot box after voting at a polling station in Montreal during the 2015 election. (Adrian Wyld/Canadian Press)

Is it too late to vote if I'm an expat?

Yes, unless you are willing to travel.

We've been hearing from many Canadians in other parts of the world (and their parents) eager to know if they can still vote in the federal election. They can't do it by mail anymore. The deadline to apply for a mail ballot was Oct. 15.

The only way for them to vote would be to come back to Canada and do so in person on election day. If you choose this route, standard ID rules apply. Elections Canada says you need to show ID which proves you have a residence you still consider your home in Canada — and that's the riding you would be voting in.

There's one restriction though: if you've applied for a mail-in ballot to be sent to you abroad, you wouldn't be able to vote in person, even if you didn't vote using that mail-in.

What happens to a person's ballot if they vote in advance but die before election day?

The vote would still count.

After the election, it might be worth reaching out to Elections Canada to get the deceased individual's name removed from the voter list. There have been instances of voter information cards showing up at homes of the deceased when Elections Canada doesn't know they have died.

Do all candidates use teleprompters when sharing platforms?

Teleprompters are often used for important rallies or policy speeches. They are usually on a large-screen placed just over the main camera so a leader can appear to be locking eyes with the TV audience rather than looking like they're reading off a screen. Sometimes additional screens are placed to the leader's left and right so they can appear to be scanning the crowd and talking off the cuff while actually reading prepared text.

Reporters are often given the leaders' speeches in advance and they (and anyone else behind the leader in an audience) can also clearly read the lines before they're delivered, so there is some measure of acting by all involved.

Some are better than others at reading off teleprompters. Reading and sounding conversational is a practised art that not all master.

That said, a prompter would be pretty useless when politicians are taking reporter questions. Politicians plan for some questions from reporters in this scenario, but a leader would be criticized if they were caught reading a canned answer there.

About the Author

Haydn Watters is a roving reporter for Ontario, primarily serving the province's local radio shows. He has worked for CBC News and CBC Radio in Halifax, Yellowknife, Ottawa and Toronto, with stints at the politics bureau and the entertainment unit. He also ran an experimental one-person pop-up bureau for the CBC in Barrie, Ont.

With files from Rob Russo

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