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Guarantor form to remove barriers to voting for Manitoba First Nations, grand chief says

Click to play video: 'Guarantor form to remove barriers to voting for Manitoba First Nations, grand chief says'
Guarantor form to remove barriers to voting for Manitoba First Nations, grand chief says
The Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs and Elections Manitoba are working together to make sure residents of local First Nations are able to exercise their right to vote in the provincial election. – Sep 26, 2023

The Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs (AMC) and Elections Manitoba are working together to make sure residents of local First Nations are able to exercise their right to vote in the provincial election.

AMC Grand Chief Cathy Merrick said many people across the 62 communities she represents don’t have the two pieces of ID that are required to vote, so a new method to confirm voters’ identities has been created.

“In discussions with Elections Manitoba, we came up with this guarantor form, so if you’re in your nation and you don’t have IDs, or only have one piece of ID, the chief or council or their band membership clerk can vouch for you, can sign the guarantor form and that will give you the opportunity to exercise your right to vote,” Merrick said.

“It’s very hard for communities that don’t have the necessary means of being able to go to a polling station or being able to participate in the elections, so this time around we’re making sure First Nations do have polling stations in their communities so that we can encourage our people to go out to vote.”

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Merrick said she’s been watching community efforts to encourage residents to vote, and there’s been a lot of activity and interest — as in other communities provincewide — in the election campaign.

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“I represent 62 of the 63 First Nations in Manitoba, (with a) population of 165,000 people,” Merrick said, “and a lot of the issues in our communities are social determinants to health — which is health itself, housing, education, so these are issues that people face on a daily basis.

“It’s very important that we be able to establish ourselves as First Nations in relationship to the provincial government. Too many times, decisions are made without the participation of First Nations people.

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“It’s 2023 — I think it’s time that we have a seat at the table when decisions are made on behalf of First Nations people.”

Grand Chief Cathy Merrick talks about a new guarantor form that will help residents of many Manitoba First Nations cast their ballots.

In a release last week, Elections Manitoba CEO Shipa Verma called the guarantor form a way to remove barriers for First Nations voters.

“Our collaboration with the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs exemplifies our shared commitment to the principles of democracy and free and fair access to the electoral process,” Verma said.

The Declaration of First Nation Guarantor for Proof of Identity voters form can be found online at Elections Manitoba and on the AMC website.

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