Wednesday is Election and Referendum Day. And because Torontoist believes that voting is the least you can do as a citizen of a democracy, we don’t want you to have any excuse for not casting your ballots—unless, of course, you’re under eighteen years of age, not a Canadian citizen, and/or not a resident of Ontario. (Although the residency requirement is somewhat flexible: you can still vote if you left Ontario sometime in the last two years, lived here for at least twelve consecutive months while you were here, and intend to live here again.)
So here’s what you do…
…if you received a Notice of Registration card (pictured above) in the mail.
This makes it pretty simple. Take your card to the location listed sometime between 9:00 a.m. and 9:00 p.m. on polling day. As long as you’re in the door by 9:00 p.m., they have to let you vote, regardless of the time you get to the front of the line. Be sure to bring a piece of ID with you (the Notice of Registration card itself does not count as ID); pretty much everything else is valid, but here’s the complete list. If you don’t have ID, you’ll still be able to vote, but you’ll have to complete and sign a “Statutory Declaration at the Poll” form.
…if you didn’t receive a Notice of Registration card in the mail.
Go here or phone up 1-888-ONT-VOTE (1-888-668-8683) as soon as possible. The website will tell you what poll you should show up to on Wednesday, and if you phone Elections Ontario they can also tell you whether you’re on the Permanent Register of Electors for Ontario. Don’t just assume that you’ll be at the same voting location as last time, or even as for the recent federal and municipal elections. (The electoral district boundaries are slightly different for the different governments.) But even if you don’t get around to finding out where to go, that’s not much of a problem. Just walk into your nearest polling place on Polling Day, and they’ll tell you if you’re where you should be.
…if you show up to the polling place, and you’re on the list.
Then good for you. If you have your Notice of Registration card, you’ll be directed to the particular poll (i.e. table with a ballot box on it) you should wait at. If you don’t, they’ll look up your address and point you there.
…if you show up to the polling place, and you’re not on the list.
Well, you might either be in the wrong place, or for any number of reasons your name may have just been left off. Someone working at the poll will be able to determine which is the case. If you’re in the wrong place, they’ll consult a map or an index of street addresses and figure out where you should be. If you’re in the right place, they’ll have you fill out an “Application for Addition to the List of Electors” form, and you’ll need to show either a piece of ID with your name, signature, and address, or two pieces of ID: one with your name and signature, and another with your name and address. If you don’t have the necessary ID, you better run home and get it, because—unlike with federal elections—people can only vouch for you if you’re voting at a rural poll.
…if you’re living in a college or university residence.
You may choose to vote either where you live during school or where you live during the other months of the year (i.e. home). If you take the second option, you’d have to find a way to get to your home riding on Polling Day or arrange to vote by proxy. It’s far more convenient to just vote where you are now, in which case you’d want to go here or phone 1-888-ONT-VOTE to find the appropriate polling location for your residence address, and then show up there on Polling Day and ask to be added to the list of electors. Because you probably won’t have a single piece of ID containing your name, signature, and residence address, you’ll want to have one piece of ID with your name and signature and another with your name and current address. A student card will be sufficient for the the former, but the latter might be a little trickier; you should take a look at the whole list of acceptable pieces of ID, but your best bet is a) anything you may have received in the mail from any level of government (including any student loan documents) or b) a “document showing campus residence issued by the office or officials responsible for student residence at a postsecondary institution.” Obviously, the method for obtaining this will vary from school to school; according to The Varsity, U of T students can get one from their residence or their college’s dean of students. Our digging through various websites associated with Ryerson and York, however, hasn’t turned up any relevant info. If you know how to go about obtaining the necessary documents from those or any other postsecondary institution in the GTA, let us know in the comments, and we’ll update this post.
UPDATE (October 10, 6:30 a.m.): Apparently, any statement or printout with one’s residence room assignment should be acceptable as proof of address. Also, we’re informed that during the last federal election, students at Ryerson’s Pitman Hall could pick up pre-printed letters from the front security desk.
…if you think there’s something else that would be helpful to know.
First, know this: you’ll be handed two ballots—one for the election and one for the referendum (the latter of which will be a little bigger than it appears above right)—and you can use either or both. That is, you’ll always be given both ballots, but you can choose to vote only in the election or only in the referendum, if you want.
And if you’re not able to make it out to vote on Wednesday, and you didn’t vote at an Advance Poll, you may still be eligible to vote by proxy. Check out Elections Ontario’s website for an explanation and instructions.
If you have any questions about anything, the website is pretty good for getting answers, but Torontoist will also field any queries left in the comments below.
Image of the referendum ballot taken from Elections Ontario’s information brochures.