The 2015 Canadian federal election on Oct. 19 is fast approaching, so we’ve put together a short guide to help readers get ready to hit the polls.
The easiest way to check whether or not someone is already registered is to visit elections.ca. For those who need help using the website, or simply need access to a computer, the Rossland Library’s staff are happy to help. For those who aren’t yet registered, or who have recently moved, the library can also offer help with online voter registration.
Those who can’t register online can register by mail by contacting their local Elections Canada office, or can register at the office in person. The closest local Elections Canada office to Rossland is in Trail in Waneta Plaza, and the office’s hours are as follows:
Monday-Friday: 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.Saturday: 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.Sunday: 12 p.m. to 4 p.m.
The office will also have extended hours during Thanksgiving weekend:
Saturday, Oct. 10: 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.Sunday, Oct. 11: 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.Monday, Oct. 12: 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.
The deadline for voter registration is Tuesday, Oct. 13 at 6 p.m. local time.
Where and when to vote
Rossland residence can vote at the advance polls from Friday, Oct. 9 to Monday, Oct. 12, from noon to 8 p.m. at the Rossland Summit School, or on election day from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. at the school.
Alternatively, votes can be cast by mail or at the Elections Canada office, but those who wish to do so must apply for those options before Tuesday, Oct. 13 at 6 p.m.
What to bring
Voters must prove their identity and address, which requires ID. The best option is to bring a piece of picture ID with a current address, which can include a driver’s license or BC ID card.
For those who don’t have a piece of ID showing a current address, there’s also the option to bring two pieces of ID, one with a photo, and the other with a current address. This could include a driver’s license and utility bill, for instance, but for a full list of options visit elections.ca.
In the event that someone doesn’t have any ID showing their current address, they can also bring two pieces of ID with their name, and someone who can vouch for their address. That person must have proof of identity and address, be registered in the same polling division, and can vouch for only one person.
Deciding how to vote
It’s all very well to be registered, have ID and now where to show up on election day, but for those who are voting for the first time, or those who feel they don’t follow current events, deciding how to cast their ballot can seem daunting. Luckily there are a number of resources available.
In Canada, we don’t vote directly for our nation’s leader the way they do in the US. Instead we vote for the member of parliament who will represent our electoral district. Some Canadians prefer to base their vote on the individual candidate who they think will best represent their riding, while others prefer to make a decision based more on party platform and leader. Or both can be taken into account.
For those interested in learning more about the candidates for the South Okanagan-West Kootenay riding, Rossland News will be publishing two candidate profiles in the Thursday, Oct. 8 paper and another two in the Thursdsay, Oct. 15 paper.
For those wanting to learn more about party platforms, Apathy is Boring is a non-partisan charitable organization that works to educate youth about democracy. While the site is geared toward younger people, it provides a great resource for understanding where parties stand on important issues.
Finally, we’d be remiss not to mention strategic voting. We will advocate neither for nor against this, but new voters may find it useful to have more information about it.
Strategic voting means that rather than casting a vote based on either of the above criteria, a vote is cast in order to avoid splitting the vote. Vote splitting is considered to occur when voters from the same side of the political spectrum (right or left) split their votes between two similar candidates, decreasing the chance that either will win, and increasing the chance that a dissimilar candidate will win.
Voting strategically means voting not for the candidate or party that best represents one’s values, but voting for the candidate whose values are closest to one’s own, and who has the best chance of defeating a popular candidate whose values are not close to one’s own.