Elections B.C. now allowing prescription bottles for voter ID

·Politics Reporter

Elections BC has introduced a new initiative that they're hoping will make voting easier for residents of one of Canada's poorest neighbourhoods.

For the first time, voters throughout the province will officially be allowed to present prescription bottles as a secondary piece of ID at the polls for next week's provincial election.

According to Don Main of Elections BC, the initiative was borne out of community consultations in Vancouver's Downtown Eastside — sometimes referred to as 'Canada's poorest postal code.'

"The Union Gospel Mission in Vancouver and our district electoral officer...were talking about what are some of the [voting] challenges...what are the needs, what are the requirements," he told Yahoo! Canada News.

"A great amount of [the residents of the Downtown Eastside] are unfortunately homeless...and may not be able to have easy access to ID or be able to get it quickly and that sort of thing. So that was just another one of the pieces they can use."

[ Related: 'Marginalized' gay B.C. Liberal campaign manager quits ]

To vote in B.C., residents need to show either a government-issued ID such as a driver's licence, which shows the holder's name, home address and photograph or two pieces of ID: One which shows a name (ie: a prescription bottle) and another which shows a name and address.

"Those that are homeless — under the Elections Act — if they use or frequent a homeless facility then they can use that facility as their address," Main said.

"So quite often that facility would provide them kind of like a membership card that has...their name and address on it."

In the last provincial election, in 2009, voter turnout in the Downtown Eastside was approximately 25 per cent, half of the provincial average.

But Main says the prescription bottle initiative is more about making it easier for residents to vote rather than increasing voter turnout.

[ Related: B.C. city councillor pitches a new way to boost voter turnout: Publicizing voters’ names ]

In that vein, Elections BC released this statement, on Monday, about "drive-thru" voting in Comox Valley.

Elections BC is offering a unique voting opportunity at the district electoral office in Comox – drive-thru voting. The Comox district electoral office is located in a former car dealership with drive-thru bays where, for a limited time period, local election officials will be administering curbside voting to voters.

“Ensuring British Columbians have access to voting is of utmost importance,” says Chief Electoral Officer Keith Archer. “This innovative approach to assisting voters is another way Elections BC makes the provincial electoral process effective, efficient and accessible.”

Wouldn't it be great if they had that everywhere?

(Photo courtesy of the Canadian Press)

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