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Advance polls are now open - here's what you need to know about how to vote
MONTREAL -- Canada’s 2019 federal election is still over a week away - but if you’re impatient (or just can't vote on that day), you’re in luck.
There is a way to beat the lineups on Oct. 21 (let’s be optimistic about voter turnout), by exercising your democratic right to vote early at the advance polls, which are now open.
Here's what you need to know (including social-media tips below):
When are advance polls open?
From 9 a.m. on Friday, Oct. 11 to 9 p.m. Monday, October 14.
By now, you should have received your voter information card in the mail. It tells you where and when to vote. Or, you can use Elections Canada’s Voter Information Service.
What should I bring with me?
You’ll need to have proof of identity and proof of address.
If you don’t have one standard government issued photo ID (like a driver’s license), you’ll be asked to show two pieces of ID. There’s a long list of accepted documentation from which to choose.
If you’re 18 or older and a Canadian citizen, you’re eligible to vote. Your gender expression or the sex indicated on your ID has no bearing on your right to vote.
Can I vote at an Elections Canada office?
Yes. There are more than 500 Elections Canada offices open across the country, but you can only cast a ballot there before Tuesday, Oct. 15, at 6 p.m.
I’m voting for the first time. Help.
The volunteers at your polling station will hand you a ballot and guide you through the process.
Find the circle next to the name of your chosen candidate on the ballot. You don’t need to use an ‘X’ to mark the spot. You can use any mark as long as it clearly indicates one choice.
Can I take a selfie at the polling station?
No. If you’d like to share your experience and encourage others to vote, you are permitted to take a photo outside the polling station.
Nor can you take a photo of your ballot and share it, because the vote is considered to be secret.
Mobile phones and other electronic devices can be used inside a polling station to show proof of identity and address, for example, on e-statements or to help voters who have disabilities.
Is my poll accessible?
There are tools and services to facilitate voting for those with disabilities.
Am I allowed time off work to vote?
The law provides for everyone, with some exceptions, to receive three consecutive hours to go vote on election day. If your hours don’t allow that time, your employer must give you time off, and they are not allowed to impose a penalty or dock your pay.
What about turnout this year?
For only the second time, Elections Canada set up polling stations on university campuses across Canada from Oct. 5 to 9. No word yet about their popularity, but they’re designed to make voting “easier and more accessible” for students, university employees and the general population, according to Elections Canada spokesperson Pierre Pilon.
However, as important as access is, “just as much energy should be devoted to making voting exciting” says Jean-Francois Daoust, a specialist in electoral studies and public opinion. The McGill University post-doctoral fellow suggests the act of voting should line up with citizens’ interests and their sense of public duty if they are to be fully engaged in the process. “In Australia, the local schoolboard organizes a temporary café at the poll on election day,” Daoust says, “to make it a social and community experience.”
The official date of Canada’s 2019 federal election is October 21. Voter turnout in the 2015 federal election was 68.5 per cent, the highest turnout since 1993. A good turnout at advance polls does not help predict if there will be high interest on election day as well, according to Pilon, but he said Elections Canada is ready for anything.