Photo: flickr/ Sean Connors

Like this article? rabble is reader-supported journalism. Chip in to keep stories like these coming.

The advanced polls are now closed but you still have one day to vote before Monday October 19.

Today, Tuesday October 13, you can cast what is called a special ballot at any Elections Canada office.

There are 400 such offices throughout the county, with a minimum of one for each of the 338 federal ridings.

You can find your local Elections Canada Office here by typing in your postal code.

Or, you can go here to find your local office, or any other Elections Canada Office, by a variety of simply-to-use means.

You can vote in any Elections Canada office, anywhere in Canada. You will still be voting for a candidate in your home riding.

You have only until 6:00 p.m. today, local time, to vote this way. And so, if, for example, you will be at work, far from your home riding, you can vote at the Elections Canada office closest to your workplace. You do not have to vote in an office in your own riding, or even your own province.

You will need the ID required by the Conservatives’ (un)Fair Elections Act, but you will not need the Voter Information Card sent to your home.

You do not need photo ID

During the advanced poll period there was some confusion as to what the necessary ID requirements are.

Some of the temporary staff Elections Canada hired for this period were ignorant of the law, and even tried turning away people who had fully satisfied the ID rules.

Other Elections Canada staff turned away people who tried using, say, a passport. You cannot use a passport alone because it does not have your address. But the Elections Canada staff failed to tell such voters what, in addition to a passport, they needed to show, in order to vote.

You can find the ID requirements here.

Note that if you want to use one ID only it must be government issued and have both a photo and your current address. For most Canadians there is only one such piece of ID: their driver’s license.

If you do not have a driver’s license you must show two pieces of ID, one of which must have your current address. It is not necessary, however, that either of those two pieces have your photo.

That is where too many of the temporary Elections Canada staff were getting it wrong.

They seem to believe you have to have at least one piece of photo ID. Not true.

You only need the photo if you are using a single piece of ID. If you use two pieces of ID, it is okay if neither has a photo.

This confusing system was created by the Harper government in its Fair Elections Act and is, in fact, manifestly unfair.

But you should not let it deter you from voting.

Elections Canada gives a long list of acceptable pieces of ID on its website. The list includes a label on a prescription container; a personal cheque; a letter of confirmation of residence from a students’ residence, soup kitchen or shelter; a transit pass; a parolee card; a student card; an income tax assessment; a credit card bill; and much more. You can even show an e-statement or invoice on your smart phone, tablet or laptop. It is not necessary that such ID be printed on paper.

This long list still does not make the system fair.

Conservative Pierre Poilievre, who was once the Conservatives’ chief attack dog in Parliament and is now one of Stephen Harper’s very few “star” candidates, designed the system to discourage young, poor and First Nations people from voting.

Do not give Poilievre the satisfaction. 

With effort, you will be able to come up with the necessary ID.

If you do not choose to vote today at an Elections Canada office, Election Day is this coming Monday, October 19. There will be thousands of polling stations, across Canada. 


Photo: flickr/ Sean Connors

Karl Nerenberg

Karl Nerenberg joined rabble in 2011 to cover news for the rest of us from Parliament Hill. Karl has been a journalist and filmmaker for over 25 years, including eight years as the producer of the CBC...