AccountabilityE-government
April 22, 2019

Vulnerability and Voting

On October 22, 2018, elections were held in Ontario’s 400+ municipalities. Local elections tend to report lower voter turnout than provincial and federal ones, and Ontario’s were no exception with only 38 per cent turnout.

However, given the direct relevance of municipal issues to our daily lives and the opportunities that these contests provide for local political engagement, it is important to be attentive to both the administration and the results of local political contests. The number of female candidates increased to 27 per cent overall in 2018, as compared to 23 per cent in 2014. Also, the use of electronic voting increased significantly.

This piece discusses challenges regarding the accessibility of municipal politics.

Accessibility

To many, accessibility means convenience. It means living in close proximity to restaurants, grocery stores, banks and many other basic needs. We rarely stop to consider the privilege we were born with. Many of us are able to complete daily tasks without hearing multiple scary voices in our heads. We are able to walk to the store for milk or bread or drive our cars to work every day because we went to college or university and are privileged to have an education that leads us to a career. These are all daily activities that are accessible to the majority of readers.

To be able to live in Canadian society in a healthy manner is a privilege that some Canadians have; however, many do not. It would be horribly debilitating to wake up every single morning in a questionably heated room, with a thin blanket, with the possibility of rodents running over you, not knowing whether harm awaits when you step out of bed. This is a reality that many homeless folks living in shelters in downtown Toronto face, but to a large extent, they lack the opportunity to have a voice that could change their circumstances. The Elections Act confers to every Canadian the right to vote, and the charter recognizes the right to democratic participation.

Heartstrings

The Ford family states that they are the people’s people who identify with all populations. As is known to the public, members of the Ford family have struggled with addition. As the late Rob Ford commented, addiction is a disease one is born with. The Ford family has had to make peace with losing a family member and public figure, the previous major of the City of Toronto who (reportedly unrelated to his death) suffered with addiction and mental health. Middle and upper class families in Canada have a different experience with mental health and addictions as many have the resources to obtain supports and treatment. The combination of the two creates barriers to services and activities such as voting, especially if one is born into a poor or disadvantaged family.

When a person is born into a family of low socio-economic status, there are often barriers to basic needs. Addiction and mental health create barriers to obtaining these basic needs, such as a permanent residence or identification, which also happen to be necessary vote. Vulnerable populations like the homeless feel stereotyped or intimidated in public areas where voting polls are often located. Voter participation can be easily influenced by increasing accessibility of polling stations and supports to obtaining necessary documentation. Those with mental health challenges have the right to vote. Every human has the right to accessible voting stations so that they can overcome barriers and their voices can be heard. There is a large population who are extremely vulnerable who need to realize they have the right to influence their own future. An obvious solution that would influence voter turnout would be to make voting accessible in highly populated shelters. A large population is right at politicians’ finger tips. The question is: are politicians brave enough to make voting accessible to everyone, from all walks of life?

Moving Forward

On municipal election day in the fall of 2018, I was working as a social worker at a homeless men’s shelter. I examined accessible voting in a subgroup of homeless men located in downtown Toronto, who were experiencing both mental health and addictions challenges. I altered my work schedule for the day to support clients and accommodate the election. In hopes of influencing voter turnout, I provided support by taking the time to educate individuals about voting procedures, their right to vote, and to provide brief letters of support confirming, name, date of birth, and residence upon request. Therefore, the residents of a highly populated shelter in Toronto were able to vote due to an increase of access to polling stations and supports, such as being able to access the identification data base, confirmation of identity, and residence. Otherwise they would not have been allowed to vote, as they have limited resources and barriers such as mental health and addictions which interfere with basic privilege such as having a copy of valid identification or a permanent residence. How can an oppressed population make change in their life, if they don’t have a say in the politics that guide access to services?

In short, voting supports put in place for an at-risk and vulnerable population proved to be a very simple solution to increase voter turnout and democratic participation in a highly populated area. One thing that we must give credit to the government for is locating polling stations in the lobby area of the shelter. Increased accessibility and supports for highly populated areas are simple solutions for increasing voter turnout. Democratic participation is an easy way to empower those who rarely have a voice with matters that impact them directly. With a solution as simple as this, it makes one wonder, is this an oversight or voter oppression?

About this author

Avatar

Julia Ann Fremeau

Julia Ann Fremeau is a humanitarian, human rights and equality advocate, and Queen’s School of Policy Studies, Professional Masters in Public Administration candidate.

0 comments

There are no comments for this post yet.

Be the first to comment. Click here.

Accountability
 
The Chief Information Officer hoisted a thick binder up to eye...
 
What’s your organisation’s mission? Hopefully, you know what it does on...
 
OTTAWA, July 31 – CPA Canada, (Chartered Professional Accountants of Canada) announced their Public Sector Conference ,...
 
We live in the age of paradox.  Never before in human...
 
Despite a rapid expansion in digital democracy initiatives around the globe,...
 
On October 22, 2018, elections were held in Ontario’s 400+ municipalities....
 
What are the key initiatives to support government innovation and change?...
 
Buying Social. Responsible sourcing. Ethical procurement. Sustainable procurement. Whatever name you...
 
In this episode, Lori Turnbull discusses the positive side of disruption,...
 
The Annual Financial Report of the Government of Canada Fiscal Year...
 
According to a 2018 study led by Dr. Michael McGuire, Senior...
 
Imagine your favorite world class service provider replacing the Board of...
 
When Mark Zuckerberg checked out of Harvard for California’s Silicon Valley,...
 
In his article, Gaming the System, How the misuse of data impedes...
 
My observation is people often take the view, “no one else...
 
The recent 2018 Senate Report examining the Government of Canada’s Phoenix...
 
Human services agencies play a vital role in society, providing a...
 
Tornado warnings broadcast a few weeks ago in Eastern Ontario and...
 
Canada’s international reputation for welcoming and integrating newcomers is unparalleled. At...
 
A few years back, consultants with ghSMART told us the biggest...
 
On today’s show, J. Richard Jones sits down for a chat...
 
Procurement modernization has been a Government of Canada (GC) policy priority...
 
It takes a lifetime to build a reputation and just moments...
 
Over the past two decades, codes of ethical conduct have become...
 
Earlier this year the Canadian government took a crucial step by...
 
On the global scene, technology has revolutionized and automated the work...
 
Over the past decade, major Canadian procurement projects have encountered increasing...
 
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has, on many occasions, expressed his commitment...
 
In this episode, CGE radio show host J. Richard Jones speaks...
 
There is growing pressure on governments around the world to be...
 
Public servants are responsible for providing advice and support to the...
 
Today, the challenges facing governments are increasingly shifting away from traditional,...
 
Management in the Government of Canada is continuously searching for new...
 
Rankings of public sector entities has been big trend for quite...
 
Canadian Government Executive media through its upcoming TechGov event is providing the...
 
Ships docked in a harbour may not be going anywhere; however,...
 
The International Monetary Fund (IMF) in issuing its annual review of...
 
There’s no shortage of organizations claiming to have a digital transformation...
 
Cybersecurity professionals have sounded the alarm for years, and they are...
 
Cost estimation is becoming an extremely important skill within government due...
 
In this special episode of CGE Radio, your host John Jones...
 
Security professionals have an obligation to communicate risks and recommendations to...
 
Risk is always present in any undertaking, no matter the size...
 
Cost overruns have become institutionalized in the federal government, according to...
 
Last year, procurement Minister Jody Foote was prompted by the swirling...
 
Professionals, managers, and executives in the cost estimation industry can gain...
 
In this episode, hear from Carl Hammersburg, Manager, Government and Healthcare...
 
A new study from the Conference Board of Canada gives our...
 
In the world that we are living in today, free and...
 
The delivery method developed by Sir Michael Barber, chief adviser to...
 
Rules and accountability are helpful in developing and standardizing processes but...
 
Canadian doctors were told that climate change impacts human health and...
 
Even as talks between the government and federal workers affected problems...
 
The largest effort in 20 years to seek public input on...
 
Ottawa has overhauled the process by which justices are picked for...
 
July 27 was pay day some federal public workers that finally...
 
The Senate committee looking into Canada’s Syrian refugee program wants the...
 
In this episode, editor-in-chief, Patrice Dutil talks about the need for...
 
Yes, according to the former head of the Canadian Security Intelligence...
 
As much a 20 per cent of grade seven students in...
 
A Quebec superior court judge facing allegations that he helped commit...
 
In a move meant to the strengthen liability and compensation regime...
 
We often read news articles about rampant drug addiction and suicide...
 
Upon receiving numerous complaints regarding add-on fees that turn making economy...
 
Are you absolutely clear what the government wants to achieve? Are...
 
Veterans Affairs Canada is not adequately managing the drug component of...
 
Whether responding to emergencies back home or assisting regular troops abroad,...
 
Some public servants will have to request their departments for emergency...
 
A landmark Supreme Court ruling has paved the way for some...
 
The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunication Commission (CRTC) yesterday heard from several...
 
At least one prime minister has resigned, another in under fire,...
 
It appears it was not just the Mounties that were affected...
 
A while back there have been numerous media reports about the...
 
Performance auditing can lead to more efficient, effective, and economical program...
 
Written By Jason McNaught The Public Service Alliance of Canada was...
 
Independence has long been regarded as a cornerstone of the auditing...
 
Canada is a diverse nation, in language, culture, geography, and, ultimately,...
 
Public sector organizations are under increasing pressure to identify all risks...
 
The government of Canada has implemented several measures over the past...
 
Whether at the territorial, provincial or federal government level, internal audit...
 
An organization’s reputation can take years to build but it can...
 
On October 30, Ontario began second reading of the Public Sector...
 
In the well-known children’s story, an Emperor falls victim to the...
 
The Nova Scotia Office of the Ombudsman is a small operation...
 
I think the ombudsman needs to be independent, because without independence...
 
Today’s business environment changes rapidly to adjust to evolving conditions and...
 
The best internal auditors actually are really good managers first. I...
 
The recent controversy about the actions of some staff members in...
 
Most professionals don’t need more than a sentence at a cocktail...
 
Recent research by the Institute of Internal Auditors Canada aims to...
 
When is it that a politician becomes part of the governing...
 
It’s been a busy couple of weeks on the information, privacy...
 
In 1996, a new budget watchdog, the Parliamentary Budget Officer, was...
 
The Ontario government is moving forward with the creation of a...
 
The Office of the Public Sector Integrity Commissioner of Canada (PSIC)...
 
After the Auditor General’s (AG) report was released on April 30,...
 
In the U.K. system, Permanent Secretaries are what we call Deputy...
 
We are living in a period of rapid change and limited...
 
US public sector employees don’t trust their management to do the...
 
The news of Mark Carney’s nomination as the new Governor of...
 
Following Singapore’s independence in 1965, the controversial leadership of Lee Kuan...
 
Over the past few years, the preparation and delivery of the...
 
In healthcare, cost-cutting can result in cutting what is valued most...
 
For over 20 years Colin Bennett has been exploring issues of...
 
Even before controversy shook the organization to its foundation, Ornge was...
 
It will be the largest international multi-sport event ever held on...
 
We’ve all seen the headlines – BC Ferries, Ornge, la Caisse...
 
It can happen, and it’s noteworthy when it does. Government, business...
 
Kevin Page’s mandate as the first Parliamentary Budget Officer comes to...
 
Governments are challenged to meaningfully mitigate the effects of the financial...
 
Canada is facing a huge financial challenge brought on by massive...
 
For the past one hundred years, democratic states have been moving...
 
It’s so much easier and less painful to learn from the...
 
CGE Vol.13 No.2 February 2007 Canada’s Performance 2006 is the sixth...
 
CGE Vol.14 No.1 January 2008 The furor over the $300,000 that...
 
CGE Vol.13 No.7 September 2007 "If the Public Service, as a...
 
When pondering leadership, we immediately think of exercising our influence downward...
 
CGE Vol.13 No.1 January 2007 "How can I be held accountable...
 
CGE Vol.14 No.2 February 2008 Let’s say you’re a senior manager,...
 
CGE Vol.13 No.1 January 2007 Perhaps it’s a legacy of the...
 
Last fall, Alberta’s Employment and Immigration department posted online the workplace...
 
As the global economy struggles to regain some forward momentum, Canadian...
 
This will be a defining budget for Stephen Harper. It will...
 
It is difficult to determine when the debate about the need...
 
For the next few years, the federal government’s overarching agenda will...
 
Much of the current conversation about the federal government’s economic agenda...
 
In 2006 the world was feeling the aftershocks of a number...
 
The Independent Blue Ribbon Panel on Grants and Contributions called for...
 
Au Canada, le secteur bénévole et à but non lucratif vit...
 
CGE Vol.13 No.4 April 2007 Robert Parkins, editorial director, met recently...
 
Bill Greenlaw is the elected president of the Institute for Public...
 
In the past two decades, the nature of the state has...
 
Have you ever asked yourself the question: ‘How would I evaluate...
 
In recent months, the attention of Canadians has been focused on...
 
Some title Some author
Some excerpt
 
Some title Some author
Some excerpt
 
Some title Some author
Some excerpt
The Chief Information Officer hoisted a thick binder up to eye...