Thursday, October 11, 2007

How (not) to encourage voting

Yesterday was election day in Ontario. Despite being really sick, I went out to vote because, you know, it's important.

Because we moved recently, I didn't get a voter card in the mail. No problem, said Elections Ontario, just bring something like a tax bill with your name and new address on it, and a piece of ID.

We show up at the polling station. I explain to the nice lady that I just moved and didn't get a voter card, so here's my tax bill with my name and address on it. She looks at my new address, and proceeds to look for my name on the voters list. Um, hello, if I didn't get a card, I'm probably not on the list.

She starts reading off names. Names of people who used to live at this address but don't anymore. "No, that's not me," I keep saying. She seems perturbed that the list was wrong. She reads the list five, six, seven times, as if expecting my name to suddenly appear.

"Look", I say patiently, "we know I'm not on the list. I just moved. Elections Ontario said that I just needed to bring my tax bill, which is right here."

Finally she concedes that I'm not on the list. She pulls out a clipboard with a form and I fill it out. She asks to see my ID, and I hand over my passport.

"Oh," she looks surprised, "um, do you have your driver's license with you? no? hold on... is a passport valid ID?'

At this point I'm sure that I'm dealing with a bona fide idiot. But wait...

She takes my passport and starts to write down my information. Under "passport number" she writes down some number that I don't recognize. Definitely not my passport number.

Here's the tricky part: there are a lot of numbers on a passport. That's why you need to look for the one that's labeled (are you ready?) "PASSPORT NUMBER".

I point out that she's taken down the wrong number. Then I have to show her where the correct number is.

Finally, she informs me that I have to recite an oath saying I am who I say I am. I read it in my bored small-print monotone voice, rolling my eyes. She says, "it's just something we have to do". To which I respond, "I didn't get out of bed with bronchitis so that I could defraud the electoral system."

Finally, finally I get to vote. The whole process took 25 minutes... about 20 minutes longer than it needed to.

Would it be too much to ask that scrutineers know the procedures and can identify valid ID? Really?


Aurelia said...


They made you take an oath, AND show ID? What only have to do one of the two.

And the joke is, this shouldn't be so hard. but, yes, with most people who are around either working, or taking care of small children, there are very very few smart people available to hire for just one day.

I just realized too, that all the other people who "live" at your house, yet *don't* live there cause they moved or are dead? Elections Ontario assumes that they didn't vote therefore voter turnout is down. hahahaaha dorks sigh

Anonymous said...

I only had to show my ID and fill out the stupid form. It was quick and painless for me and I didn't have a voter card.