Voters in ridings across Canada reported confusion at the ballot box on Monday, with many attributing the issues to the Fair Elections Act, a controversial bill that ushered in many changes to the electoral process, from campaign finance to voter identification. “Canadians shouldn’t have to be experts in electoral law to cast a ballot,” said Josh Paterson, the executive director of the B.C. Civil Liberties Association. The group intervened in an ongoing case against the bill that sought to have its provisions suspended for this election. That argument was turned down in July, but a full court challenge will be heard after the voting. “We’re stuck with it for today, and hoping to get changes for next time around,” said Mr. Paterson, who himself was asked for unnecessary ID when he voted at the advance polls.
The bill was criticized for raising limits on campaign spending, prohibiting Elections Canada from mobilizing voters and tightening voter-identification requirements. Critics said aboriginals, students and homeless voters were likely to face increased difficulties in casting a ballot as a result.
Voting campaigns across the country have been focusing on more-difficult-to-reach voters for months. nIn northwestern Ontario, a First Nations Rock the Vote campaign began in May, one of several across the country, including in Winnipeg and Saskatchewan. On Monday, volunteers in the area were offering rides back home to people who did not bring the right identification to polling stations.
“In the North, gas is a very high commodity, so having people offering their cars is a huge thing. Some people are returning to the polling stations; my fear is that people will say ‘forget it,’” said Tania Cameron, the organizer of First Nations Rock the Vote.