Baby Steps Towards Easier Voting

I tried to write this yesterday, but a storm came through, and for reasons I need to figure out, my UPS was a little shorter on the U than I expected, so my computer died sooner than I thought and took my post down with it. So here’s take two. *slams the save button*

It’s election season, again, so I thought I’d write a post about what’s new in terms of accessible voting in provincial elections, from what I’ve been able to glean. There might be more that I missed, but here’s what I know.

We have the assistive voting technology, you know, the machines that let people use sip and puff, paddles and audio stuff, but they’re still only available at the returning offices, which sucks if your electoral district is sizable at all. And no matter what a poll official tells you, there’s no accessible machines at the advance polling locations. None. What is new this year is if you want to vote using the machine on election day, you can book an appointment to use it. But I think you still have to go to the returning office, which probably explains why you have to book an appointment since regular schmucks can no longer vote at the returning office once it’s election day.

Another thing that is new is there’s an Elections Ontario app, which is not a bad little app. It gives you handy dandy access to your list of candidates and polling stations, will fling you alerts if something breaks, such as polling stations because of biblical storms like we had yesterday, and if your voter card hasn’t arrived when you would like to vote, you can use the app to zoink up a digital version of your voter card. Way cool! This year, my voter card arrived on time, but there are lots of years when it’s slow to arrive and this would take the stress out of it.

A couple of things you should know, though, about setting up access to your voter card. Most of the process is pretty accessible. I think this is the first time I’ve seen a postal code field actually pop back and forth between letters and numbers mode appropriately. But I got a little bit snookered when I got to the part where I needed to input my ID. You have two choices: input your driver’s license number, or upload a photo of another piece of ID with your name and address on it. They always tell us that the Ontario Photo Card is supposed to be our version of a driver’s license, but it isn’t. It starts with a number and your driver’s license starts with a letter. So when I entered a number, the app gently but firmly told me that this would not do. So I had to snap a picture of my Ontario Photo Card, which I used Aira to do, and upload it. Why couldn’t there just be an”I have an Ontario Photo Card” button, which would then switch the field to accept that card’s number, and save us the trouble of having to snap a picture? If someone needed to input another kind of ID, then fine, give them the option to snap a picture. But if the Ontario Photo Card is supposed to be equivalent to a driver’s license, make it equivalent!

Because I’m stubborn, I got it done, and a few hours later, my ID was approved and I have an electronic form of my voter card. Like I said, most of the app was pretty good. I just think that little tweak would make it dreamy.

That’s what I know about what’s new in election land. Hopefully our voting experience will go smoothly.

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