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Robin East's Voting Experience - May 2, 2011 Federal Election

1.       The Information Card that was mailed to me and had my correct mailing address on it was not in an alternative format. I understand that Elections Canada gets the information from the Canada Revenue Agency for elections purposes if I check the box on my tax return. Of course I do so this is mailed to me. the Canada Revenue Agency sends me everything in a format of my choice and that choice is electronically in HTML format so why is this not sent to me in the same way. If elections Canada is asking for my mailing address they should also ask for format of which the Canada Revenue Agency sends information out to the tax payer. In this way it would have come in an appropriate format.

2.       At the polling station  #81 - told to me verbally by my friend. As my  friend registered to get her ballot;  I was waiting my turn, the polling staffer asked her "do you think he can do this by himself?" the reply  by my friend was "I do not know you will have to ask him!". I waited and that person did not ask me. Another polling person told me to please wait until my friend came out of the polling booth. I was then asked if that was my passport. I said yes and handed my passport over along with my elections Canada mail out information card. I was told the passport would not be sufficient. Interesting that I can travel the world with the passport and get into the most secure places with it but I cannot cast my vote using it as it somehow does not verify whom I am. I have no other identification with my address. Only the address My address, on the information card from Elections Canada. Interesting how they can send me this information card with my name and address and it is not accepted where a "bill" would be.  I have No bills in my name, nothing. My friend had to vouch for me. she did not have to sign anything simply  had to say I vouch for him. talk about feeling insignificant and like a common criminal!! I wonder how inmates vote if they have nothing in their name with their current address or do the guards vouch for them? I guess I am treated like a common criminal.

3.       I asked for the template and the ballot as well I asked that the names and parties be read out to me as per the ballot. I waited. I was given the ballot and template and the ballot fell out. My friend  put it back in. Still no information on the listing of candidates or parties. My friend removed the ballot from the template and read me the list from the ballot. then put it back into the template.

I asked if there was an accessible form of which I could file a formal complaint regarding the process. they told me there was and they would have it for me when I came out of the booth.

4.       I asked the polling officer if she would take me to the booth so I can cast my vote. I was taken there but the person did not know how to work with someone that was blind and wanted to hold my hand. I asked her if I could hold her elbow.

5.       I made sure the ballot was put into the template again and part of it was sticking out of the right side. So the ballot did not fit properly in the template. I hope I marked my ballot in the right spot. There was no way of knowing and no way of verifying my vote.

6.       While in the booth marking my ballot the complaint form was brought to the election table #81 and one of the officers started to ask my friend the questions on the form. My friend said that it was for me not her.

7.       I stood up and no one was about so I tip tapped to the polling station table and handed the template back in. they asked for my ballot and I gave it to them. I do not know if it was put in the ballot box or slipped into someone's pocket or the garbage.

8.       I was handed the form it was a two pager likely one copy for them one for me. However it was in paper. I asked if there was an accessible one. they did not know. I asked to talk to the person in charge of the Polling place. a fellow was introduced to me by the name of "Eden". Cannot remember the last name and I may have the first name wrong.

9.       I asked this fellow if this form was in an accessible format and he said that was all he had. I asked if I could send my complaint via email. He said he will be writing up a report and he would send me something. I gave him my email address. I explained all the things as per above. I also told him that not only did not have the candidates names given to me so I could only vote for a Braille 1, Braille 2, etc.. but I also was not able to verify my vote and that the template itself was not appropriate for the ballot as it , the ballot, fell out once and slipped a few times while in the template. I told him I have been waiting nearly twenty years and each time there is a Federal election nothing has changed. training is very poor, template does not work, I do not get a list of candidates, I cannot verify who I actually voted for, and my ballot is taken from my hands and I do not know if it is put in a pocket or in the garbage or in the ballot box.

I also noted that on the form it asks in one of the questions if there was appropriate "handicap" parking. Well, I was very offended as this language has not been used for twenty years on Government forms and here it was. I told him in Quebec they use this word but it has a different spelling and it is because the word disability is not a word that is easily translated into French.

So now I wait to file my two complaints one with Elections Canada and the other with the Canadian Human rights commission.

Robin East
National President
Alliance for Equality of Blind Canadians

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Comments

When I voted, I found the holder for the ballot to be a bit awkward but otherwise ok. I'm low vision so I was able to see the large print sheet they showed me with the names of the candidates and the corresponding number beside them, so I could tell that I was marking my ballot for the right candidate. However, they didn't offer me a braille list so I have no idea if they had that available - I didn't ask because they had the large print which was accessible to me.  Also, I knew that my ballot had been correctly cast because the man helping me guided me to the box and showed me where the slot was so I could deposit my ballot myself.  Regarding the identification, I think they required something with picture ID that had your address on it. I'm not sure if the passport has home address on it. I used my CNIB card which has my picture and address, plus my health card which has my picture and those were accepted. Overall, I think my voting experience was acceptable, although if I had needed the braille information and they didn't have it, it would have been a big problem for me.