The big one is now a few days past, and I think a lot of us are still floating on the euphoric wave of “we did it!” We voted out a Prime Minister whose behaviour in the last couple of years has been nothing short of racist and illegal. Actually, I should say, “YOU did it.” Because I was not permitted to participate in that most inalienable of rights. I did not get to vote. I tried. Boy, did I try. Matter of fact I was at the polling station all day!
I signed up a few weeks ago to work the election at a polling station. I didn’t vote in the advance polls, because I figured, hey, I’ll be there all day on election day anyway, and the Election Canada trainers assured us that everyone working a polling station would be accommodated so that they could vote. Fair enough. Off I went on a very frosty morning with my ballot box and materials, and set up my polling station.
Some time around 9am, my polling station supervisor phoned the head office and asked for a transfer certificate to be brought over so I’d be able to vote. No problem, she was told. It would be there at some point during the day. Voter turnout was encouraging, and only a couple of grumps (and drunks) came through. So many young families brought their children to the polls, and took the time to explain the process to our next generation of voters. It was pretty encouraging! Mid-morning, an Elections Canada representative came through and my supervisor repeated her request for a transfer certificate. They promised that one would be delivered in the early afternoon.
When the afternoon started to wane a little, I asked the supervisor if she’d heard any news. She called the head office repeatedly, and kept getting the same answer. “It’s on its way.” Around 8pm, they finally told us that someone had just left the head office with the certificate and was on their way to us (roughly a 10-minute drive). I don’t know if that person decided to detour to Texas, but they never showed up. My supervisor logged a dozen calls to the head office to get that certificate. When we phoned around 9pm asking where the heck the person delivering the certificate was, the answer we got was this: “Look, all I can tell you is that they’re on their way. They’ll get there.” When I pointed out our proximity to the office, I was brushed off.
9:30pm came around, and I had not been given an opportunity to vote. At that point, it was too late, because we all had to open our ballot boxes and get to work counting the vote. The person who supposedly left the office with my transfer certificate never did show up, and the office wouldn’t provide an answer when we asked what had happened. I am 40 years old. I have been voting in Canadian elections since my 18th birthday and have never missed one. The fact that I was denied the opportunity to vote by the very organization that is meant to ensure fair and legal elections in this country is absolutely ludicrous.
Some will point out that I should have voted in the advance polls if I was concerned about being able to do so while working the polls. And I totally will in every election from here on out. But the reason I’m writing this is that I should not have had to take that precaution. There are mechanisms in place for polling station workers to be able to vote on election day. Transfer certificates are issued EVERY election, and it’s a system that has been in place for a long time.
Considering that transfer certificates were supposed to be included in every supervisor’s supply package and that we had none; considering that we began requesting the certificate from the head office TEN MINUTES AWAY well before the polls opened, and in 13 hours, none was provided; considering that an Elections Canada employee actually LIED to me and to my polling supervisor; considering that it was my absolute right to vote in that election, and I did everything possible to ensure that I could; considering that my right to vote was actively sabotaged by the very people who are charged with overseeing the fairness of the process…
Considering all these facts I am appalled and enraged at the behaviour of the local Elections Canada office. Both my polling station supervisor and I are filing official complaints with EC (for all the good it will do) and I’m also filing one with my newly-minted MP. What happened to me, and to so many others (I’m thinking of polling stations that were moved to remote locations so that no one without a vehicle could access them, polling stations that RAN OUT of ballots, etc.) is completely unacceptable and was entirely avoidable. I doubt anything will come of the complains filed, and I don’t have any draconian fantasies of heads rolling, but I’m writing this as a sort of, “I know what you did.” Because what they did? It didn’t go unnoticed. Not by me, and not by anyone else who was treated unfairly.
(And I know it’s objectifying to judge his looks, but isn’t our new PM pretty??? His wife is downright gorgeous too!