By Terry Vanderheyden

OTTAWA, January 5, 2006 ( – A REAL Women of Canada release reminds voters that, for those unable to vote on January 23 or during advance polls on January 13th, 14th and 16th, an amendment to the Canada Elections Act now allows voters to cast a vote any day before January 17 by simply showing up to a polling station with identification to cast a ballot.

“In most parts of Canada we cannot depend on good weather either on voting day, or at the time of the advance polls,” the release explains. “The key to any hoped [sic] for success on our part, in the forthcoming election however, may be in getting our supporters to the polls. We do have the numbers, in supporters – but it is getting them to cast their vote that is a major concern and a hurdle to overcome.”

“Fortunately, this problem has been greatly resolved for this forthcoming winter election, due to a little known amendment to the Canada Elections Act,” the release continues. “This amendment now allows voters to cast their ballot on any day including Saturdays and Sundays (even Christmas day and New Year’s day) up until 6:00 pm Tuesday, January 17, 2006.”

The amendment stipulates that in order to allow voting by way of a “special ballot”, all 308 local Elections Canada offices must be opened every day until Tuesday, January 17, 2006, during the following hours:

Weekdays (Monday to Friday) 9:00 am – 9:00 pm
  Saturday 9:00 am – 6:00 pm
  Sunday 12:00 pm – 4:00 pm

Voting by “special ballot” requires only that a voter whose name is on the voters’ list shows up at his or her riding’s electoral office and present identification, preferably photo ID, such as a driver’s license or passport, in order to vote. Even if that person’s name is not on the voter’s list he / she can still vote if 18 years of age and a Canadian Citizen and can provide suitable identification.

To determine the address of a local Canada Elections office call 1-800-463-6868.

“This provision is particularly helpful for those who will be out of the country on Election Day or on the advance polls, or for those who, for health reasons, cannot sustain the crowds and the line-ups on Election Day,” states REAL Women.

The “special ballot” provision also permits voting by mail. The registration kits to vote by mail can be picked up at a local riding’s Canada Elections office or alternatively, by writing to or faxing toll free in Canada and the United States:

Elections Canada P.O. Box 9830, Stn T, Ottawa, Ontario K1G 5W7. Fax: 1-800-363-4796

A completed registration form and “special ballot” can then be faxed to Elections Canada at 613-998-8393 or toll free in Canada and the United States at 1-800-363-4796 or mailed to the Elections Canada address above.

The completed registration form and ballot however, must be received by 6:00 pm January 17, 2006.