Lack of advance polls in York-South Weston called ‘undemocratic’
TORONTO – Mavis Cox, 64, has lived in the riding of York – South Weston her entire life and has voted in every election since she was eligible at the age of 18.
Cox, who uses a walker to get around, has relied on advanced polling locations to cast her ballot.
“Being handicapped it’s easier and you don’t have to wait in line,” she said.
However, in the 2014 Ontario Election, Cox and other residents in the riding have found the four advanced voting locations are in either the most northern part or very southern part of the riding.
“When I phoned to find out where the advance polls were there was nothing in the centre of the riding where I live,” said Cox. “If it hadn’t been for one of the political parties driving me, I wouldn’t have been able to vote at an advance poll.”
Elections Ontario placed four advance voting locations at 2625 Weston Road, 50 Falstaff Avenue, 1507 Lawrence Ave. West, and 215 Ryding Avenue.
A lack of a central voting location has also upset Paul Ferreira, the NDP candidate for the riding of York-South Weston, who called the polling locations “profoundly undemocratic.”
“This is a large urban riding, very diverse neighbourhoods, and some of the most marginalized neighbourhoods in the city,” he said.
Ferreira said she rode the bus from Weston Road and Eglinton Avenue to vote in the advanced poll Monday at the local returning office in the north end of the riding.
“It took me 45 minutes one way from door to door,” he said. “In an urban riding like this one, no one should have to travel 45 minutes each way just to be able to cast an advanced ballot. I think that’s the kind of thing that disenfranchises voters. It’s profoundly undemocratic.”
Ferreira says the riding has one of the lowest voter turnouts in the province with less than 45 per cent of eligible voters casting a ballot, and Elections Ontario has failed.
In response to Ferreira’s complaint Elections Ontario sent a letter stating: “the Centennial Community Outreach Centre, that typically serves as an advanced poll for the central part of the electoral district could not accommodate a multi-day poll due to construction.”
Elections Ontario also said the returning officer for the area attempted to find three other locations but was unsuccessful.
“Limiting folks to an option of voting on June 12, it is very difficult for many people in this riding,” said Ferreira. “They work shifts, they work multiple jobs. That’s just the economic reality here. You have a lot of seniors and single parent households.”
In the meantime, Ferreira said “regardless of who they vote for,” his campaign office will help voters by offering rides and directions to the nearest polling station.
*With files from Angie Seth
© Shaw Media, 2014