Monday, April 18, 2011

Vote Early, Vote Often

Photo by Dean Terry via flickr
Okay, I'm just kidding about the "vote often" part but I did vote today, two weeks ahead of the date of the upcoming federal election on May 2nd.  I'll be out of the country on the actual day, as well as on the dates for the advance poles but luckily my mom told me that anyone can vote early at their local Elections Canada office, as long as you have the proper identification and, preferably, your Voter Registration Card. 

They don't actually tell you that you can simply go to the return office to vote in person, or at least, it isn't very clearly presented on the Voter Information Card that gets mailed out to registered voters prior to an election.  Yes, there is a section in the bottom left of the card entitled "Other ways to vote" that says you may vote by mail or in person at your local Elections Canada office "if you apply to do so by no later than 6 p.m. on Tuesday, April 26" and then gives info about downloading a form from their website.  But when you go to the website, that information seems to geared more towards people who live out of the country who might want to mail in their vote.  To me at least, it did not seem to be very obvious that all you have to do is go to the local Elections Canada office (which is open 7 days a week, 12 hours a day during the week, all day Saturday and Sunday afternoons, quite convenient - all you do is type in your postal code on their website to find out the location of the one nearest you or call the toll-free number on your voter card), fill out a short form with your name and address, show your I.D., write in the name of your candidate (not the political party), as chosen from a list of names of all candidates in your riding that they have in the voting booth for reference, and voila, you are done.

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Okay, where was I?  Oh yes, civic duty completed - check.  One more item crossed off my "to do" list.  As annoyed as I am to have to listen to all this political rhetoric and go through the whole voting process for the fourth time in seven years, I am conscious of the fact that we Canadians are lucky to live in a democracy where each individual over the age of 18 is allowed to vote, including women.  My friend Diane posted about about the 100th anniversary of International Women's Day back on March 8th (here), which reminded me of those who worked so hard to give women a voice and lobbied for the right of women to vote not just in this country but the U.S. and many other countries around the globe, as well as those who did and continue to speak out on behalf of women and issues affecting their lives.

Did you know that it hasn't even been 100 years since Manitoba was the first province to allow women to vote in 1916?  The federal government and most of the other provinces followed along between then and 1925.  Quebec was the last to follow suit and they didn't do it until 1940! Can you imagine??!

Can you imagine not being able to cast your ballot at all? I can't. So I voted today.  It was a little less convenient but it was way better than not voting at all, or being told I can't vote.  I urge you to do the same, whether it's on the election day (Monday, May 2nd) or on the advance voting dates (April 22, 23 or 25) or any time now at your local Elections Canada office.  Female or male, young or old, municipally, provincially or as in this case, federally, whether your party's colour is red, blue, green or any other colour of the rainbow, don't let others speak for you, get out and VOTE!!

And yes, I did have to swear on the form that I would only vote once. :)

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