When Citizen reporter Lexi Bainas heard of folks in the Shawinigan Lake area finding they were somehow left off the voters list for this year’s federal election, she did what any naturally curious person would do — she looked to see if she was still on the list, too.
“Because I’m in a rural area, I thought well, maybe it’s a rural thing, so I took a chance and went and checked,” Bainas explained. “If I have the opportunity to check ahead of time, why not? I doesn’t take more than five minutes.”
She went to the Elections Canada website (elections.ca) and typed her information into the “Am I registered to vote?” tool. Bainas was nowhere to be found. She tried multiple incarnations of her name and initials and it still didn’t work, so she phoned the Elections Canada office in Langford to ask what’s up.
The worker there couldn’t find her in the database either — despite Bainas living at the same address in the same town for the last 15 years and having voted in several elections from that home base.
“He double checked for me, it took him quite a while. He had to go check and check and then he had to go check and check again,” she said. “First of all, he didn’t find me, and then he found me and then he couldn’t find my address and then he couldn’t find me on the list.”
The problem is, the worker explained to her, that her address is on Highway 18.
She lives in the Town of Lake Cowichan but there are also voters that are in Area F and in Area E on the same stretch of road. That was the explanation. Why that seems to matter is unclear as all three areas are in the new Cowichan-Malahat-Langford riding. Is it because she’s rural? Is is the new riding? Those questions couldn’t be answered.
Bainas was told she would either have to visit an Elections Canada office before election day to sign up, or to bring her addressed ID to her polling station (which can be found online) to register on voting day.
A hassle at the very least, it’s something Bainas is glad she double checked before Oct. 19.
“I’m sure other people would want to know,” she said. “It just seemed interesting to me as I had heard that some people were being left off the list, that I, in fact, was one of them.”
Elections Canada spokesperson Dorothy Sitek said people should not assume they’ve been struck from the official voters list if they can’t find themselves online.
“We know that there are lots and lots and lots of Canadians using that [online] system and it’s working for them, and it’s all fine,” Sitek said. “But for some it may not work for a variety of reasons.”
The best way to know if you are on the list is to wait for the voter information cards, which should be in mailboxes in the next week or two.
If you don’t receive a card, well, that’s another story.
“It is true that you would need to go to a local Canada Elections office — any one will do, it doesn’t need to be in your riding — in order to register now, but that’s only if you’re not registered,” she said.
Advance voting for the 2015 federal election is from noon until 8 p.m. on Oct. 9-12. Those polling stations have yet to be announced.
“There are lots of options,” Sitek said. “There’s still time. We are here to help, for sure.”
First step: wait for your voter information card to arrive in the mail in the next two weeks.
Should you not receive it, or if you’ve visited elections.ca and believe you are not registered or have been struck from the list, phone Elections Canada’s main offices at 1-800-463-6868 or call the riding’s Elections Canada office at 1-866-545-0469 to double check.