Voting is a right as protected by the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and is one of the country’s most cherished institutions. Whether it be federal, provincial or municipal, each of us should exercise our right to vote. Here’s what you need to know in order to vote in the 2013 May Provincial General Election.
Below, we’ll be covering:
- Voting eligibility requirements
- Voter identification
- Where to vote
- Voting opportunities
- Time off from work for voting
- Register to vote
1. Voting eligibility requirements
In order to vote, you must:
- be a Canadian citizen;
- be 18 years of age or older by General Voting Day (May 14, 2013);
- be a resident of the electoral district;
- have been a resident of British Columbia for at least six months immediately before General Voting Day for the election;
- be registered as a voter for the electoral district or register as such in conjunction with voting; and
- not be disqualified by the Election Act or any other enactment from voting in the election or be otherwise disqualified by law.
2. Voter identification
In order to vote, you’ll need to have some sort of proof of identification. Acceptable types of ID are:
- one document issued by the Government of B.C. or Canada that contains the voter’s name, photograph and residential address, such as a B.C. driver’s licence, B.C. Identification Card (BCID), or B.C. Services Card
- a Certificate of Indian Status
- two documents that contain the voter’s name. At least one of the documents must also contain the voter’s residential address. Documents for this purpose are:
Government-issued identity documents
For example: healthcare card, birth certificate, Social Insurance Card, passport, citizenship document/certificate, Old Age Security Identification Card, Canadian Forces identification, Firearm Acquisition Certificate, firearm Possession and Acquisition Licence, Veterans Affairs Canada Health Care Identification Card, Correctional Service Canada Offender Identification Card.
Other government-issued documents
For example: property tax assessment, income tax assessment notice, government cheque, government cheque stub, statement of employment insurance benefits paid, Canada Child Tax Benefit Statement, statement of Canada Pension Plan benefits, statement of Old Age Security.
For example: admissions letter, report card, transcript, residence acceptance, tuition/fees statement, student card.
- Provincial Where to Vote card
- Bank/credit card or statement
- Residential lease/mortgage statement Insurance statement
- Public transportation pass
- Utility bill
- Membership card
- Hospital bracelet/document
- Attestation of residence
- Personal cheque
Voters without the necessary identification can be vouched for by a voter in their electoral district who have the necessary ID themselves, a direct family member or someone who has legal authority to make personal care decisions for the voter.
To vouch, you must be:
- registered as a voter in the same electoral district and able to produce the necessary ID documents
- a spouse, parent, grandparent, or adult child, grandchild or sibling of the voter
- a person having authority to make personal care decisions in respect of the applicant
You can only vouch for one person.
3. Where to vote
Your polling location will either be mailed to you, published in newspapers or other media or you’ll get a phone number to call to find out where it is.
4. Voting opportunities
Voting doesn’t just happen on the one general voting day. Here are all options available to you:
- General Voting Day – Voting hours on May 14 are from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.
- Advance voting – Advance voting is held from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. (local time) on the Wednesday, May 8 to Saturday, May 11. Advance voting is available to any voter.
- Absentee Voting – Voters who are unable to attend their assigned voting place on General Voting Day, or the advance voting in their electoral district of residence, may vote at any other voting place in the province.
- Alternative Absentee Voting
- An individual may vote by alternative absentee voting if:
– they expect to be absent from British Columbia on General Voting Day
– they have a physical disability, illness or injury or their mobility is impaired, or
– they will be in a location that is remote from a voting place, or will be unable to attend a voting place because of weather or other environmental conditions or for another reason beyond the individual’s control.
- An individual may vote by alternative absentee voting if:
5. Time off from work for voting
Right to time off
If you’re entitled to vote, you’re entitled to have four consecutive hours off during voting hours on General Voting Day – from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. – as per Section 74 of the Election Act.
BUT, this doesn’t necessarily mean four hours off from work. It means there must be a four hour period of no work during voting time. It’s up to the employer to decide when their employees can take time off to vote – the beginning or end of a shift. It’s unnecessary if normal working hours already give the four hours of free time from employment. So if your shift ends at 4 p.m. or doesn’t start until noon, you’re not entitled to any time off. But if your shift runs from 8 a.m. until 5 p.m., you should be let off early at 4 p.m.
It’s an offence for an employer to take any deduction from an employee’s pay, or exact any other penalty, for time off for voting. Employees are entitled to their regular compensation for those hours not worked while voting.
6. Register to vote
From February 25 to March 15, Elections BC is mailing B.C. residents with notices about the election. If you haven’t received a letter in the mail to verify your information, head to www.elections.bc.ca/ovr to register online or call 1-800-661-8683. Doing it online will probably take you less than 5 minutes and you’ll need your B.C. driver’s licence number or the last six digits of your Social Insurance Number.
Featured Image: Dave Huehn / Flickr
Source: Elections B.C.