How to vote, where to vote, and how to decide who to vote for.
The Toronto municipal election is October 27. Campaigns are heating up, signs are being nailed into lawns, and eager voters are getting candidates’ names tattooed on their chests (we imagine).
To help you find out where and how to vote—and how to learn more about the mayoral and council contenders—Torontoist presents a guide to the 2014 election.
Are you eligible to vote?
If you’re a Canadian citizen over 18 years old and either a resident of Toronto or own or rent—or have a spouse who owns or rents—property in town, you’re eligible to vote.
You can find out if you are on the voters’ list by visiting the city’s MyVote app, a one-stop shop that, once you have entered your address, will also tell you where to vote and which city council and school board trustee candidates are running in your ward.
MyVote will also let you see a sample ballot, in case you want to practice your pencilling technique. Technophobes can get all their voting information by calling the Toronto Elections Office at 416-338-1111.
And if you’re not on the voters’ list but are eligible to vote, you can show up to your local polling station on election day with a piece of ID showing your name and Toronto address, and you will be added to the list on-site.
How do you vote?
All you need to bring with you to the polls is a document that shows your name and Toronto address. This can be a piece of ID like a driver’s licence—or it could be a credit card statement; a pay stub; any document issued by the government of Canada, government of Ontario, or an Ontario municipality; or one of a very long list of other options. And if you don’t have any suitable ID or documents, you can still vote—as long as you’re on the voters’ list—by signing a Declaration of Identity at the polling station.
What if you aren’t in town on October 27?
If you’re not available to vote on October 27, you can cast your ballot during the advance voting period, which runs Tuesday, October 14, to Sunday, October 19, from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. You can find out where advance voting will take place near you by visiting MyVote or calling the elections office.
If you can’t vote on election night or any of the advance voting days, you can appoint a proxy—another eligible Toronto voter who will cast your ballot on your behalf. All you need to do is fill out a Voting Proxy Appointment form, which you can pick up and have certified by City staff at the City Clerk’s Offices right up until 4:30 p.m. on election day. Then your proxy will take the form to your local polling station and cast a ballot for you.
The City has taken steps to ensure that people with disabilities are accommodated during the voting process.
All polling stations will be in accessible buildings. Every advance voting location, and one location in each ward on election day, will have a Voter Assist Terminal—a machine that allows people with disabilities to vote using special amenities such as a touch pad, Braille keyboard, audio headset, foot-operated switch, mouth-activated devices, font size and colour contrast adjustments, and a paddle switch that can be pushed with hands, feet, or forearm. Voters requiring special assistance are allowed to bring a friend to the voting booth or ask an election official for help.
If a voter has a disability that prevents them from entering the voting location, they can call the elections office and arrange to vote in the building’s parking lot or at the curb.
How do you know who to vote for?
You can do this the slow way—by checking out all-candidates’ lists on the City’s website and clicking through to the contenders’ campaign websites (although not all have one). And of course you can visit Torontoist’s Politics hub for council candidate profiles and the latest election news. But there are a few other resources out there to help you decide whose name to mark on the ballot.
Back in September, advocacy group Women in Toronto Politics (WiTOpoli) sent a survey to every council candidate asking them their positions on 10 broad issues, including transportation, employment, and affordable housing. WiTOpoli has assembled the answers, unedited, at positionprimer.ca, where you can search candidates by ward or enter your address to find out who’s running in your area.
Though several candidates neglected to fill out the survey (spoiler alert: one of them was Rob Ford) the result is a well-organized, relatively comprehensive guide to your election-day options.
Brought to you by CBC and the data analysis firm Vox Pop Labs, Vote Compass is a survey for voters. It asks you where you stand on particular election issues, what parts of city business matter to you, and how much you trust Doug Ford, Olivia Chow, and John Tory. Based on your answers, Vote Compass tells you, using charts and graphs, how closely your views align with the platforms of each of the three leading mayoral contenders.
Pollenize offers up a portal (accessible online and available as a mobile app) that draws from news articles and candidates’ campaign websites to compile bios and very brief platform summaries for Doug Ford, Olivia Chow, and John Tory. The information is a little sparse, but if you’ve had your fingers in your ears throughout the mayoral campaign, Pollenize is a good way to familiarize yourself quickly with the contenders. It also comes with some entertaining doodles of the candidates.
Toronto Environmental Alliance
TEA, a non-profit environmentalist group, has published report cards that score mayoral and city council candidates according to their environmental stances. The results are based on contenders’ answers to an 18-question survey, which asks them about their commitment to five environmental priorities identified in the organization’s Green Action Agenda. Doug Ford did not respond to the survey, but Olivia Chow received a grade of 81 per cent, while John Tory got 61.
TEA has also released a 2010-2014 City Council “Enviro Report Card,” which grades Mayor Rob Ford and incumbent councillors on their eco-friendliness—the politicians’ grades are based on the percentage of eco-friendly initiatives they voted for at council these past four years. It’s a valuable resource for green-minded voters, especially since the majority of last term’s councillors are running for re-election, and one of them—Doug Ford—is running for mayor.
ArtsVote Report Cards
Toronto arts lobby group ArtsVote (co-presenters of September 29’s mayoral debate) emailed a series of survey questions to mayoral and council candidates. Based on the responses, and the voting records of the incumbents, ArtsVote produced report cards grading the contenders on their commitment to the arts.
Incumbent councillors were given letter grades, as were mayoral candidates who have participated in debates. Council challengers and non-debating mayoral hopefuls were rated on a four-star scale.
The full grades list is posted online, but here’s a taste:
- Olivia Chow: A
- Doug Ford: C
- John Tory: A
This post has been updated with information about the ArtsVote report cards.
This post has been updated with information about the Toronto Environmental Alliance report cards.