Councillor worries lack of voter ID cards creating confusion in Cape Breton town

·3 min read
A number of people in Port Hawkesbury, N.S., have not received voter information cards. (Robert Short/CBC - image credit)
A number of people in Port Hawkesbury, N.S., have not received voter information cards. (Robert Short/CBC - image credit)

Some voters in the riding of Cape Breton-Canso in Nova Scotia may have a difficult time finding their way to a polling station today.

A number of people living in the area of Port Hawkesbury, N.S., say they have not received voter information cards in the mail. The card tells eligible voters exactly where they should cast their ballot.

Town councillor Hughie MacDougall said both he and his son did not receive their cards. And he's concerned that could mean confusion by the end of the workday.

"It's a bit of a mixup," he said. "I'm working today and the polls close at 8:30 p.m. or so, and if somebody's working until 7 o'clock they might miss out."

Voting without a card

Polling station information can be found by entering a postal code on the Elections Canada website. For anyone without internet access, they can visit a polling station to be given instructions on where to vote.

Françoise Enguehard, a spokesperson for Elections Canada in the Atlantic provinces, said that might mean an extra trip for voters wanting to cast ballots.

Without a voter information card, people will need to show photo identification or two pieces of ID bearing their name and address.

Enguehard said this is not the first time members of a community have reported not receiving their cards.

"It happens," Enguehard said. "If we had known earlier, we could have taken steps to avoid that issue. Very often people will phone or will go online and, you know, check their information status and set things right.

"There are almost 28 million electors in Canada. We send information cards to everybody. And so mistakes do happen and we do our very best to fix everything before Election Day."

Not everyone has online access

Bruce MacKay of Port Hawkesbury did not receive his voter information card, but was able to cast a ballot in last week's advance poll.

While working today on the Conservatives' campaign in Cape Breton-Canso, he received 15-20 phone calls from people who did not receive their voter cards.

MacKay used the online tool to find polling stations for callers, but said it didn't always work.

"Some of the postal codes are coming up that information is not yet available, so that makes it difficult," said MacKay.

"They assume that everybody knows how to use a cellphone and a computer to find out all this information, and it leaves out a lot of the population here that's older."

MacKay said in Port Hawkesbury alone there are three polling stations available for people who are looking to cast a ballot. He's worried that people who arrive at the wrong station will instead turnaround and go home.

"If you put a barrier in front of people to vote they're not going to vote. And a lot of seniors, it's difficult for them to get around."

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