Canadians vent over voting frustrations on social media

A transit bus reminding people to vote, travelling in downtown Vancouver, British Columbia, on Oct 19, 2015.
A transit bus reminding people to vote, travelling in downtown Vancouver, British Columbia, on Oct 19, 2015. PHOTO: REUTERS

VANCOUVER (REUTERS) - Canadians turned to social media to complain about the difficulty of voting on Monday (Oct 19) in the country's closely fought federal election, which comes after the ruling Conservatives toughened rules around voter identification.

Using the hashtag #pollwatch, people shared frustrations from polling stations opening late, to being turned away for not having the correct forms of identification, to one man who had to swear to election workers that he was not his twin brother.

"Sze-Liang voted after swearing, before election workers, that he wasn't Sze-Ming, his twin, who had already voted," tweeted Stu Mills, a reporter with the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation.

Other users reported being told by Election Canada workers that they did not have the right identification to vote, despite bringing in passports, health cards and other government-issued documents, along with their voter information card.

"If you have your voting card and passport that should be enough. But it isn't. Bring mail from home with proof of address," said one Twitter user, noting she ran into trouble trying to vote with an outdated driver's licence.

While plenty of Canadians reported a smooth voting process, this is the first election to be held since the Conservatives passed an amendment to election law in 2014. The change means voters can no longer use a voter information card to prove residency.

"The new Canada Fair Elections act has forced me - a fully registered voter - to walk home twice to produce sufficient ID to vote," Doug Saunders, a newspaper columnist, wrote on Twitter.

Elections Canada also took to Twitter to remind Canadians they can still register at polling stations and to provide helpful hints on acceptable forms of ID.

"If people are concerned about the ID requirements, we have put a lot of information out there in terms of making it clear what's needed for ID," said Elections Canada spokesman David Rutherford.

Critics have complained the changes make it harder for vulnerable groups including students, aboriginal Canadians and the homeless to vote.

Indeed, the official Twitter account for the Union of British Columbia Indian Chiefs reminded aboriginal voters that their "status cards are not good enough for id. Voters are being turned away."

Other voters, meanwhile, reported waiting in line for up to 70 minutes, with Elections Canada confirming polling stations in the Ottawa area, Toronto and Winnipeg opened their doors late.

There were also reports that missing ballots held up voters at one Toronto polling station.

"Just learned that my friend in St. Paul's is unable to cast his ballot, since ballots never arrived at polling station,"tweeted Kyle Kirkup, a Toronto lawyer and academic.