NOTE TO READERS: The following commentary was read during our live broadcast of the Ontario Election results on June 7. It referenced a story we broke at the St. Catharines Standard about a local woman who, while eligible to vote, was prevented from doing so by Elections Ontario because she was in a hospital in the wrong riding.
The polls are about to close, and when they do I will be stepping away from the anchor desk for a few minutes while I help our news team get the papers together.
But before I do I wanted to draw your attention to a story we broke in today’s paper about this woman – Dawna Bacon.
Dawna is 55, lives in St. Catharines and has been politically active most of her adult life. She views voting a civic duty and goes out her way every election to cast her ballot.
But today, Dawna Bacon wasn’t allowed to vote. She took ill and is being treated at the St. Catharines hospital. But the hospital is just across the riding boundary in the riding of Niagara West – which means Elections Ontario refused to send an officer to allow her to cast her ballot.
Because Dawna Bacon got sick, and because the hospital is a stone’s throw from her riding, she has been disenfranchised.
Since we broke this story, I have received emails from other Niagara residents and people across Ontario in Dawan’s position. Like her, they want to vote. Like her, they spent days on the phone from hospital beds trying to find help from Elections Ontario – help that never came.
We live in an age of apathy where voter turnouts are low and cynicism is common. Many people disconnect from the political process and simply don’t vote.
But people like Dawna Bacon want to vote and it is shameful that in 2018 the body that runs our elections allow arbitrary rules to disenfranchise a voter.
As voters, we should insist that whoever wins tonight changes the rules so that no Ontario citizens have their political voice silence. Dawna Bacon deserves better. We deserve better.
One thought on “She wasn’t allowed to vote. The system needs to change”
Thanks for referring this story again — it’s one we forget at our peril. And it makes me think of the news that broke on Monday, that the US Supreme Court has upheld the controversial Ohio law that permits the state to purge its voter rolls. If you miss voting for four years (counted as two election cycles) and then fail to send a confirmation of address form back to the government, you can be purged from the local voters list. Your right to vote is more likely to be jeopardized if you are poor, black and live in a large city. The democracy we take so much for granted that a 58% turnout in last week’s election marked a 20-year high is being eroded elsewhere at an increasing rate. It’s far more fragile than we realize…