An Elections Canada pilot project based in Montreal is hoping to get the city’s homeless population out to the ballot box.

The project is focused at the Accueil Bonneau day centre in the new riding of Ville-Marie-Le-Sud-Ouest-Ile-des-Soeurs. While there are ballot boxes in other homeless shelters in the city, those boxes require those who use them to be registered in the riding in which they’re located. In the case of Accueil Bonneau, only those who go to the centre may vote there.

“If we can encourage the guys who come here on a daily basis to actually take part in the democracy process, that would be a great idea,” said Vincent Masson, a community worker at the centre. “If we don’t give them the opportunity to express themselves, who will? I think voting for the next prime minister is a great start.”

Up to 1,000 people visit the centre and many of them are eager to vote, according to Elamine Ketari, an outreach worker for Elections Canada who is working on the project.

“They are really interested and they are curious and some are surprised they are allowed to vote,” said Ketari.

The hope is to increase participation numbers by allowing the homeless to cast their ballot in a familiar, non-judgmental space.

“I think it would be helping their self-esteem,” said Masson. “I can’t answer for every guy who comes here who will vote, but one thing I can say is I’m sure it will do good.”