The election is only 3 weeks away, but no one has talked about the biggest barrier to voting: Life.
According to Statistics Canada, 22.9% of people surveyed cited ‘Too Busy’ as their reason for not voting in the 2011 federal election. This is not surprising given that 15.4 million Canadians commute to work and 50% of the population works full-time. While employers are legally obligated to give their employees 3 consecutive hours to vote, few are aware of this law and 3 hours is just not enough. This is particularly important in Western Canada where the polls close at 7pm or 7:30pm.
To address this issue, Vote Savvy teamed up with VoteNote - a free voting app - to advocate for a half-day of democracy, where employers are asked to give their workers more time off to vote on October 19th.
Our concern is that beyond general busyness, voters are faced with a new barrier this election: not being able to use their voter information card as official ID. Under the Fair Election Act, voter information cards can no longer be used as a piece of ID. In 2011, 400,000 voters used the cards as official ID on Election Day. This election, those people may be turned away at the polls only to find that when they have found the right ID the polls have closed.
We are also asking Canadians to pledge to a half-day of democracy by exercising their right to have time off to vote. Specifically, young people working at fast food restaurants are vulnerable because they may not feel empowered to ask their employer for their entitled time off.
Half-day of democracy was inspired by our neighbours down south where Election Day is a civic holiday in Delaware, Hawaii, Kentucky, Montana, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, and West Virginia. Globally, a number of countries such as Austria, Belgium, France, Germany, India, and New Zealand make voting accessible by holding elections on either weekends or holidays.
Blog written by Yvonne Su