Making the electoral process more accessible

Backgrounder

On April 30, 2018, the Government of Canada introduced C-76, Elections Modernization Act.

Building on the recommendations of the Chief Electoral Officer, C-76 proposes updates to the Canada Elections Act that, if passed, will reduce barriers to participation that Canadians may face when casting a ballot or participating in the broader democratic process.

C-76 proposes amendments that will make voting more convenient for all Canadians by:

  • Allowing the Chief Electoral Officer to authorize the notice of confirmation of registration (commonly known as a “voter information card”) as identification*;
  • Creating a Register of Future Electors in which Canadian citizens ages 14 to 17 years may consent to be included*;
  • Permitting the option of vouching for identity and residence*;
  • Making it easier for Canadians to apply for and obtain special ballot kits;
  • Reducing wait times at regular and advance polls by streamlining intake procedures;
  • Increasing the hours of advance polls to 12-hour days; and,
  • Better serving remote, isolated, or low-density communities by expanding the use of mobile polls.

C-76 proposes legislative changes that will reduce barriers to participation in our democratic process for specific groups of Canadians. For Canadians with disabilities, this includes:

  • Expanding accommodation measures to include all persons with disabilities, not just those with physical disabilities;
  • Creating a financial incentive for political parties and candidates to accommodate electors with disabilities and facilitate their participation in the democratic process through reimbursement of expenses related to accommodation measures (e.g., accessible format of material, sign language interpretation during an event, etc.); and
  • Providing the option of at-home voting for persons with all types of disabilities.

For Canadian Armed Forces members, this includes:

  • Reforming the out-dated system of voting for CAF members by providing them with the same flexibility as other Canadians in choosing how to cast their vote.

For Canadians living abroad, this includes:

  • Removing the requirement that non-resident electors must have been residing outside Canada for fewer than five consecutive years*; and,
  • Removing the requirement that non-resident electors intend to return to Canada to resume residence in the future.*

C-76 will make it easier for Canadians with disabilities and Canadians caring for a young, sick, or disabled family member to run for federal office by:

  • Allowing candidates to use their own funds, in addition to campaign funds, to pay for disability-related expenses, childcare expenses, or other relevant home- or healthcare related expenses;
  • Increasing the reimbursement rate to 90 per cent for expenses in the aforementioned categories, and exempting them from campaign spending limits.

For the complete set of amendments and details, please refer to the legislation text.

* Previously introduced in Bill C-33


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