Election 2008: Frustrated voters vent on new ID rules

New rules imposed by Elections Canada for Tuesday’s federal election left some voters confused and frustrated.

The polls opened at 9:30 a.m. and closed at 9:30 p.m. In between, some Toronto-Danforth residents who were assigned to the polling station at Morse Street Junior Public School, located at 180 Carlaw Ave., expressed concern about the voting protocol.

In particular, some were frustrated by new rules around identification. In the past, voters could use their voter identification cards (VICs) as proof of address. But this has now changed – and some voters say they weren’t adequately advised.

Voter Cassie Fleisher has worked for Elections Canada in the past, so she had no problem getting to the voting booth. Still, even she was unaware that voter identification cards could no longer be used as proof of address.

“It would have been nice if the notification was more noticeable,” she said.

The card states on its bottom left corner that it is no longer an acceptable form of ID.

Voter Jason Faulkner, on the other hand, had no complaints.

“There was sufficient coverage of the enhanced ID requirements,” Faulkner said, “but I guess they could have moved the notification beside the name, to make it more visible and to ensure that people would see it.”

Several voters vented their frustration to the deputy returning officers and poll clerks – but central poll supervisor Soyeb Jasat received the brunt of the complaints.

“The biggest challenge was when the voters got upset over the voter identification cards. People were unaware of the change in identification,” Jasat said. “People thought you could bring in your voter identification card as proof of address, which is no longer the case.”

Jasat emphasized the importance of having proper identification to ensure a seamless voting experience. He said that several voters showed up at the wrong polling station either because they did not look at their voter card or they did not get one and just went to the closest polling station.

“If you do not have a VIC within a month of an election then you need to call Elections Canada so they can make sure you are registered. It is the person’s responsibility to notify us if they do not receive a card.”

Michele Parker worked as a poll clerk for the first time and found the experience both intriguing and at times frustrating.

“I thought there was a lot of disorganization when it came to closing the polling station. People did not follow instructions, which made the process that much slower.”

Parker also said that many people were unaware that they could vouch for someone who was not registered or who did not have proof of address.

“People were happy when they realized they did not have to go all the way home to get ID. It was not as complicated as I thought it was going to be,” Parker said.

In the future, voters can make sure they have the proper identification when they visit their respective polling stations. Visit http://www.elections.ca for answers to questions or call 1-800-463-6868.