An Ontario man who recently became a resident of Dieppe, N.B., feels like his right as a Canadian citizen to cast his vote in the upcoming provincial election is being violated.
“I am being denied a vote for an arbitrary, unenforcible law,” said Andrew Butters, who moved to New Brunswick from Cambridge, Ont., this summer.
Butter said his wife and 18-year-old daughter arrived in early August and are now eligible to vote on Monday because they have been in the province for more than 40 days. He has not, and said he was told by Elections New Brunswick at an advance polling station this past week that he is ineligible to vote.
“There is no way to enforce this or check, they just asked me I could have easily said, ‘Yeah, I have been here for 40 days’ and they would have handed me a ballot. But I do not want my first voting act to be a fraudulent one so I decided to go a different route and change (the law),” he said.
He said he is now calling on all political candidates, for whom he cannot vote, to change the rules if elected.
“Do your best to make it so that everyone gets a voice,” said Butters.
According to Elections New Brunswick director of communications Paul Harpelle, the rules in the Elections Act are clear.
“The Act states the elector has been or will have been ordinarily resident in the Province for 40 days immediately preceding the date of election,” he wrote in an emailed statement to Global News.
But Butters said he finds the rule unfair.
“I am going to assume it has to go with wanting to keep people from swooping in and voting and otherwise affecting an election,” said Butters.
Butters said he believes that if someone can prove they are a permanent resident of the province, they should be allowed to go to the polls.
“If someone can show, like, a lease or a deed to a house, they are a New Brunswicker,” he said.
Elections New Brunswick didn’t provide a reason for the waiting period but did say it used to be six months.
According to their electoral commission websites, Ontario, Alberta and Newfoundland and Labrador are the only provinces with no waiting periods.
Butters has no regrets moving to New Brunswick.
“I love New Brunswick and everyone I have interacted with has been fantastic,” he said.
Being politically minded and forced to sit on the fence on election day, though, has him frustrated.
“I feel like I have been silenced.”