Over the past few months, C.A.R.P has been consulting with Elections Canada on a set of proposed changes that would make it easier, and safer, for seniors from all walks of life to vote in the next federal election.
Given the current political climate, and with Canada led by a Liberal minority government, an election could happen at any time. It’s critical that older people can cast their votes with confidence—seniors have proven time and again that they hold the power to set the course of our country’s future.
With the pandemic continuing to restrict vulnerable older adults from venturing into crowded public spaces, especially those in long-term care homes or with medical conditions, there is an inherent risk that votes will be lost in the shuffle. Low income seniors and those in rural areas are also at risk of falling through the cracks, as they often have less access to the technology needed to cast a virtual vote.
C.A.R.P. is working to ensure that our members get to the polls in whatever way best meets their unique needs, reminding Elections Canada that “seniors” are not one uniform group that can be serviced with a generic approach.
Here are some highlights from our recent consultation with Elections Canada:
- Endorses voting by mail, but pushes back on the plan to make instructions on how to do so available solely online, as this won’t be accessible to all seniors.
- Endorses moving election day polls from the current Monday to a 1 or 2 day weekend timeslot, with the caveat of consulting with religious groups as appropriate. This would allow more younger family members to help in-need seniors cast their vote.
- Reinforces the need for polling locations, which may be moved and/or changed next election to allow for physical distancing, to be easily accessible (e.g. not too much farther away than the current location, wheelchair accessible, etc.). We also stress that this information must be clearly communicated on the voting card.
- Supports the introduction of mobile voting stations to long-term care homes in place of the usual teams sent in by Elections Canada. These stations would be staffed by the homes’ front line staff who will, naturally, have intimate knowledge of both their facility and residents which should help facilitate voting by residents. We stress that the care homes clearly communicate this process to residents first and their families second, to respect seniors’ autonomy and encourage a smooth voting experience.
- Supports mandatory masks, hand sanitizer and extra staff at voting stations to maximize safety for older voters.
- Endorses the option for frail or at-risk seniors to have the option to vote during dedicated hours at the polls to reduce crowding.
- Urges that voting information be provided in hard copy format as much as possible, versus purely online/digitally.
- Encourages that older voters be contacted by phone when needed (e.g. to help with registration), as opposed to door-to-door visits.
- Supports the use of online training for older poll workers to learn about how to facilitate in-person voting.
Do you have other suggestions on making voting easier for seniors?
Email us at [email protected] with your ideas!
We will continue our work with Elections Canada on getting our members safely to the polls (whenever that may be).