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Elections Canada warns voters about new ID requirements for 2015 election

Elections Canada is urging all voters who may be missing appropriate identification to get their paperwork done before the Oct. 19 vote.
June 16, 2015
By Joanna Smith

Elections Canada is urging all voters who may be missing appropriate identification to get their paperwork done in the few months remaining before the country goes to the polls.

“We’re encouraging electors to be aware now, moving into the general election, that if they don’t have two pieces of ID, they really need to act on that,” an Elections Canada official told reporters Tuesday during a technical briefing on recent changes to the process in.

The list of acceptable forms of identification voters can use when they cast their ballots this Oct. 19, however, is quite long.

The label on a bottle of prescription pills, for example, counts as a piece of identification showing your name, and a personal cheque, or showing an electronic bill from the screen of a mobile device, can both be used to prove an address.

“We’re not anticipating problems,” said the official at the technical briefing, which was provided on the condition that officials are not named.

The controversial Fair Elections Act the Conservative government introduced last year did away with the practice of vouching, which allowed someone with required identification to vouch for someone who did not at a polling station on the day of the vote.

The legislation also removed the ability to use a voter identification card as a way to prove where one lives.

The Conservatives argued the changes were meant to prevent electoral fraud, but the changes were criticized by First Nations representatives, student groups, advocates for seniors, former auditor general Sheila Fraser and even Chief Electoral Officer Marc Mayrand due to fears they would prevent many from casting their ballots.

Elections Canada is reminding voters there are three ways to prove identity: show one piece of government-issued identification with your photo, name and current address; show one piece of identification with your name and a second one with both your name and address; or, show two pieces of identification with your name and have someone you know attest to your identity.

Other changes to the elections process that come into play this year:

The number of federal ridings has grown to 338 from 308, including 15 new seats in Ontario.

Voters can now register online.

Polling stations will have a “fast lane” for voters who are already registered and show up with all the proper identification in hand.

The ban on reporting results before the rest of the country has finished voting has been lifted, so the media can start publishing the counts as soon as they come in.

Individuals are now allowed to donate a total of $1,500 - in the form of contributions, loans or loan guarantees - to the candidates and riding associations of each registered political party, a limit that will increase by $25 on Jan. 1 each year.

Spending limits for political parties, candidates and third parties have increased by 5 per cent and will be pro-rated for any campaigns that last longer than the minimum period of 37 days.

Parties and candidates who spend above the limit will face a new financial sanction by having their reimbursements reduced.

Advance polls will now be open four, instead of three days the week prior to the election, so people can cast ballots Oct. 9 to 12.

Voters can check online to see how accessible their polling stations are to people with disabilities.

Elections Canada plans to open its offices Sept. 1, about two weeks before the writs are dropped, so that it can be ready to serve voters and candidates as soon as the election is called.

Elections Canada will also open offices on campuses, YMCAs and indigenous Friendship Centres, where anyone can register and vote.