As you may know, youth voter turnout in Canada has been less than stellar, with only 38.8 percent of youth voting in the 2011 federal election. While there are several reasons behind this—apathy towards politics, distrust in the government, or feeling as if they can’t make a difference—for some it is simply the hassle that comes with voting.

Stephen Harper’s changes to Canada’s Election Act made it so voters can no longer use their voter registration card that comes in the mail as identification at the polls. In 2011, 400 thousand people used this method. In addition, voters who do not have suitable identification can no longer vote by having another elector with the correct ID vouch for them; in 2011, 120 thousand used this option. Now the only way to vote is to provide your driver’s license or provincial/territorial ID card, or to show two pieces of ID that may not have your photo but at least one of which has your address. You can have someone vouch for your address if you have two pieces of ID, but neither shows your address.

Many students have two addresses; one is their “home address” where they lived with their parents before moving for school, and the other is where they stay during the semester. This can make it confusing when trying to figure out how to cast their ballot. Before voting you must register to vote at <elections.ca> for the riding you plan to vote for. You will need to prove you have an address within that riding.

To vote on election day (October 19) or on an advanced voting day (October 9, 10, 11, 12), at a polling station, you will need:

  • One piece of photo ID with your name, and current address.
  • Two pieces of ID—one with your current address.
  • Or take an oath—show two pieces of ID with your name and have someone who knows you vouch for you. They must show proof of identity and address, be registered in the same polling division, and only vouch for one person. If you cannot provide any of these with proof of your school address or make it home to vote, you can: Vote at any Elections Canada office with your ID and address before October 13.

These offices are open Monday to Friday from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m., Saturday from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., and Sunday from noon to 4 p.m. Or apply to vote by mail with proof of your ID and address.

Do this as soon as possible, as the deadline is October 13 and you want to ensure your ballot gets to Elections Canada by voting day. Elections.ca can help you find your riding, find the nearest Elections Canada office, apply to vote by mail, and register to vote.

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