Posted date : Nov 7, 2017.
Dear Bird Talk,
As a snowbird going to Florida for five months each year we felt discriminated against in the federal election.
We were in Florida when the election was called. We did contact Elections Canada in Ottawa right away.
The person who answered the phone spoke very poor English and could hardly understand me. He had no idea of Ontario geography, only Quebec. We tried to explain where we lived (Muskoka Georgian Bay township) to no avail.
However, they offered to send us the form to register to vote by mail. They wanted to e-mail or fax it to us but we don’t own either. So it came in the mail (took two weeks).
We returned it so we could get a ballot. Again, many phone calls to Elections Canada if you could get through on the line. By the way, half-page ads in the St. Petersburg Times were telling Canadians to vote.
Our ballots arrived on voting day in Canada, so it was useless. I feel we were disenfranchised and discriminated against for being snowbirds.
Of all the Canadians in our area of Florida, and there are quite a number, not one was able to vote. What can be done about this?
As hundreds and probably thousands of snowbirds found out, having the RIGHT to vote outside the country doesn’t mean you CAN vote. Elections Canada is working very hard with the CSA to resolve this problem and is gradually getting systems in place to allow proper and timely voting. The St. Petersburg Times ad was one of our recommendations and similar ads were placed in several other U.S. papers as well. Elections Canada is listening to us and we believe they will “get it right” for our next election.