Manitoban working abroad shocked at cost of sending mail-in ballot from Africa

A voter heads to cast their vote in Canada's federal election. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Andrew Vaughan

For most of us, voting in a federal election is relatively painless — we go down to our polling station, mark an ‘X’ beside our candidate of choice, then carry on with our day.

One Manitoban, however, is paying a much higher price to make his voice heard in Monday’s vote.

Emmanuel Davis is currently in the west African nation of Liberia, where he is serving as a missionary, and his experience with voting by mail has been a confusing — and expensive — one, to the tune of more than $80 CDN.

Davis told 680 CJOB that his mail-in ballot included pre-paid postage — but only if it was sent locally, not more than 9,000 km away.

Read more: Manitoba voters urged to check polling location after information card error

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Due to the short campaign period, in order to rush his ballot to Canada in time to be counted, he had to pay for a rapid courier service, to the tune of $66 USD (the US dollar is one of the currencies commonly used in Liberia).

“Finally, I did actually pay the $66 to mail in my ballot,” he said.

“I think it’s very important for me to cast my vote and (show) my love for Canada, but I was concerned about the process — I think Elections Canada should clarify… if a mail-in ballot is shipped abroad to a Canadian citizen, they should have specified the cost.

“It’s very frustrating for me.”

Davis said he was told that sending the ballot through the regular post from Liberia could take upwards of three or four months — well beyond the quick turnaround needed to make his vote count.

In an email, Elections Canada told him that their mandate is to deliver ballots and voting kits to all Canadians who request them — but that the voter is responsible for ensuring the marked ballot is returned by whatever means they deem most efficient.

Davis said he understands, and the information he received from Elections Canada did clarify how absentee ballots work, but he’d like to see some more work done to educate Canadians abroad about the potential costs, especially given such a quick turnaround with a snap election like this one.

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“For me, this is my first time (voting from abroad) — I’ve never had this before, and it was very confusing,” he said.

“The time is very crucial. It’s too short. My wife isn’t voting, because of the expense. We can’t afford it… we’re missionaries serving overseas and we can’t pay the cost.”

Click to play video: 'Final day of advance voting and changes to polling stations' Final day of advance voting and changes to polling stations
Final day of advance voting and changes to polling stations – Sep 13, 2021



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