Voters who’ve had difficulty in the past getting to polling stations or returning offices due to disability will have a new voting option in October. Elections Ontario will introduced home visits as a voting alternative for the Oct. 6 provincial election. By calling Elections Ontario or its local returning office, electors who qualify can have a special ballot officer come to their home so they can cast their vote.
“It one of a series of amendments to the Election Act that was aimed to make voting more accessible,” said Barbara McEwan, director of electoral events for Elections Ontario. Providing a person is eligible to vote in the Oct. 6 election, one of two criteria must be met in order to qualify for the home visit, McEwan said.
The first is that it would be impossible or unreasonable for the elector to vote at the returning office, said McEwan, which is one of the options available for those who vote by special ballot. The second is that the elector would be in need of assistance to apply to vote by special ballot because of a disability or an inability to read or write, she said.
“We think it’s really going to make voting more accessible for people who may have faced barriers in the past,” McEwan said. “It’s another option that’s available, so we think it’s going to go a long way.”
Glenn Outhwaite believes home visits are a good option for people who face difficulty with mobility. The former chairman of the Kingston Accessibility Committee, and confined to a wheelchair himself, Outhwaite said he wouldn’t use the option because he has the ability to get to the polls, but there are others, he said, who can’t.
“I know that there are many, many people who didn’t vote in the civic election because they had no way of getting there,” Outhwaite said. “So there will be a number of people who will take advantage (of the program) as long as it’s well advertised in advance.”