When Rick Sauve visits prisoners these days, they have something new to discuss — the federal election. They pester him with questions: What are the polls saying? Who do you think is going to win? “It gives them something else to talk about,” says Sauve. “Because everyday’s like Groundhog Day. Everyday’s the same. “When this comes around, they pay attention.” Prisoners in all provincial jails and federal prisons get a chance to vote Friday — always 10 days before an election — in special advance polling stations set up in the institutions. This is the fifth federal election in which they have been allowed to cast ballots.
Sauve, a former member of the Satan’s Choice motorcycle gang, was serving a life sentence for murder in Ontario when he filed a court challenge over the right to vote in 1992.
During his legal battle, the government changed the Elections Act to give the vote to provincial inmates serving sentences of less than two years. And, in 1992, a ruling by the Supreme Court cemented voting for all prisoners.