Bill and Lynn Rizzo, a blind couple in their early 70s, have lived in Kingston, Ont., for 50 years and voted in each municipal election — until this year.
As election day inched closer, the couple says they began to panic because they had yet to receive their voter cards, which they believed were necessary to cast a ballot. When the polls closed on Monday, Oct. 22, both Bill and Lynn had not voted, breaking their decades-long streak.
Lynn says she phoned the city of Kingston several times leading up to election day to ask about their missing voter cards. She claims she was never able to get through to anyone but was instead sent to voicemail or directed to the online voting section on the city’s website.
Getting online was not an option for the elderly couple, because both are blind and do not have access to a computer, Lynn explained.
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Lynn blames the city for her missing vote, saying they did not appropriately accommodate voters with disabilities.
Although the city put a lot of election information on their website and on their social media pages, several people in Kingston have complained that if they had an issue with the voting system, when they called the city no one responded.
People who were left off Kingston’s voters’ list could have got on it by going to city hall with a piece of identification. Also, they could have gone to their nearest accessible polling station with a piece of ID and voted in person on Oct. 22.
Lynn, who also uses a wheelchair, argued that since she and her husband had no one to help them get to a polling station, it was impossible for them to get out to vote.
The city of Kingston told Global News that transportation options were provided on election day to those who were unable to vote online and that there were also options for accessible voting.
“Individuals were able to ride Kingston transit for free. The Kingston access bus was available as well, and all 25 voting locations were fully equipped with accessible voting,” said Janet Jaynes, deputy city clerk for the city of Kingston.
The Municipal Property Assessment Corporation is responsible for collecting and maintaining the voters’ list, which is sent to the city of Kingston. The city is then responsible for mailing voter cards to everyone on the list, said Jaynes.
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However, the Rizzos say they haven’t moved in 40 years and have always received their voter cards, until this year.
Over the past few weeks, many Kingstonians — including longtime residents but especially those who rent in the city — have told Global News about not receiving voter cards prior to election day.
Though the Rizzos did not cast their votes, the couple says they’re happy with the outcome for their district councillor and mayor.