Some Nunavut advance polls would require a plane ticket

Some Nunavut advance polls would require a plane ticket

Some voters in Nunavut looking to cast a ballot this weekend would have needed to travel hundreds of kilometres and pay a hefty airfare. 

Elections Canada does not have advance polling stations in several communities across the territory. Instead, it's instructing voters to go to advance polling stations in other communities, a pricey proposition in a territory where there are no roads between communities and flights are expensive. 

"Elections Canada has one job and that's to give people the opportunity to vote," said Arctic Bay resident Clare Kines.

His voter information card notified him that his advance poll was in Resolute Bay, a community about 300 kilometres away that's only accessible by air, with return airfare of more than $2,000.

"It's a failure. It's not like we can drive to the neighbouring communities up here. No communities are connected by a road; airfare is very expensive," Kines said. 

"It shouldn't be that difficult a task to put on advance polls in every community."

Arctic Bay residents weren't the only ones without an advance polling station. The Elections Canada website directed residents of Clyde River to advance polls more than 500 kilometres away in Igloolik, while Kimmirut residents were told to vote about 120 kilometres away in Iqaluit.

Elections Canada says advance polling stations are not available in every district. 

"It's a few electoral districts polled together, and so there are fewer advance polling locations than there are polling locations on election day on Oct. 19," said David Rutherford, Elections Canada spokesman.

Confusion over addresses 

In Iqaluit, some voters were having difficulty casting a ballot in the advance polls.

Curtis Taqqaugaq tried voting on Saturday, but couldn't. The Arctic College student lives in Iqaluit while studying nursing, but his home town is Igloolik. 

He required a letter from the college showing his current address before he was able to vote on Sunday. The process might dissuade others from voting, he said, especially in smaller communities.

"That would be one of them. Not knowing the process on how to vote, when to vote, who to vote for. What each party is trying to do with the government."

Other Iqaluit residents had no problem voting, as long as they had the appropriate identification. 

"It was easy for us, smooth going," said Cathy McGregor, who voted along with her husband on Sunday in the advance polls.

She had to show a bank statement with her current address before casting a ballot, which McGregor said might not be easy for everyone. 

"If you live in public housing, you wouldn't have electricity bills or you might not have a driver's licence or even a tax assessment," she said.

"I really do hope that the outreach that [Elections Canada] did in Iqaluit into different institutions around town like the post office where you can get information — and even in the NorthMart — I hope that was done in other communities as well."