This past election proved very difficult for some people to vote in, including one of my friends. He works in camp and left way before voting cards were mailed out. He also left before advanced polling stations opened. He works in a different riding. (Sometimes he even works in a different province or country.) While there are plenty of options to vote, it wasn’t enough or easily accessible for him to use any of the options.
There was the opportunity to vote by mailing a ballot and a record number of people took advantage of that this year. However, that option isn’t as easy as it sounds. This option required people to scan their IDs and submit them online. A lot of camps are rural and remote. Not everyone has access to a scanner and reliable enough internet to send large pictures.
My friend’s spouse wanted to apply for him but he had his ID with him. It also requires you to pick up the voting package from somewhere. This idea of mailing in ballots would be a good one if Elections Canada gave you more time to prepare for it. My friend could have applied to mail in his ballot and actually mail it in if he could have (or known that he could have) with more time.
Of course, there was the option to vote at an Elections Canada office but for those working in camp, there isn’t always one nearby. Some camps require a helicopter to get into and others are so far off the beaten path that it would be impossible to make it to a station in time. Those who work in camp work long hours— often 12 hours shifts, leaving a very small window to actually get to a polling station. Also, I know a lot of local people who are sent to work abroad, making that option impossible.
In this day and age, and with all the advancements in communication technology because of the pandemic, how are we not voting online yet? Why is it safe for me to bank online but not vote?
Former Telkwa Mayor Darcy Repen pondered on social media during the campaign if the politicians we elect in this area, prefer it to be this way? He made the assumption that a lot (but not all) people who work in camp are likely pro-industry, maybe even pro-pipeline and pro resource extraction. Of course, that isn’t all they care about but typically those thoughts align with a government that leans to the right. Our MLA and our MP lean very far to the left.
Can how we vote, and voting be more accessible if those that might not vote for the current leaders, who have a voice to be able to make those changes, ever really change?
This past election cost taxpayers more than $600 million dollars. That is a staggering amount of money. Money spent to get the same results as before. I heard a joke online that said this election could have been an email.
The cost to move voting online might be expensive at first to figure out the logistics but it has to save money in the long run. It would also make it more accessible for a lot of people. It would have also been ideal and much safer to vote online during a pandemic.
If voting online can’t be done then maybe placing ballot boxes in some of the bigger camps would be a good first step. Some camps have hundreds of people.
My friend believes in the democratic process and I know he thinks voting is very important.
I used to always say that there was no excuse to not vote but maybe there are some barriers.
Change needs to happen but who is going to do it?