The blog is not finished! But after the Theft (yes, capital letters), the want/need to update the blog took second fiddle to dealing with the Theft and just finishing the trip sans computer. Since being home, it's been hard to get that motivation to complete it. But I will. Ever so slowly. Please be patient!

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

I’m a Canadian Backpacker, and I VOTE!

“If you are between the age of 18 and 25 and you want to scare the hell out of the people that run this country, this time around, do the unexpected. Take twenty minutes out of your day and do what young people all over the world are dying to do. Vote!”

And with those words, political satyrist Rick Mercer began a movement in Canada that has culminated in so-called “vote mobs” springing up on campuses all over the country. Seriously, search “Vote Mob” on Youtube. There are new ones popping up every week.

Now, it is no secret that I love Canadian politics. I have voted in every single election since I turned 18. I have also worked for Elections Canada in all but one election as either a Poll Clerk or as a Deputy Returning Officer. Now Canada is in another election and regardless of your political stripe, my hope is that each and every one of my Canadian readers will go out and vote. You can vote on May 2nd, election day, or one of the three Advanced Poll days that are coming up this weekend. Or, if you’re like me and you’re traveling the world, you can vote by Special Ballot. Either way, you can vote.

As a backpacker, it is a bit of a hassle to vote, but something this important deserves a little time out of my day in order to fulfill my duty. I would hope that seeing the massive riots and revolutions in Egypt and Libya should be enough for most people to see how lucky we are to have free and fair democratic elections. I think people in those countries, and other countries that have just recieved the right to vote, would be horrified and shocked that we don’t take advantage of it.

Perhaps we’ve forgotten how much sacrifice went into giving us this right.

But anyways, I digress.

So you’re a backpacker and you want to vote. For us, we must vote via Special Ballot. I was lucky and had a four day turnaround in Toronto where I managed to vote by Special Ballot at a Returning Officers office there. But for most Round-The-World backpackers, they do not have this luxury. And it may not be too late to get this done but you have to act fast.

First, get to the nearest Canadian Consulate or Embassy. You will need to pick up the application to vote by Special Ballot. There are a few things you need. First, you need copies of identification that shows both your name and your home address so that Elections Canada can correctly determine your constituency. You also need the address of where Elections Canada can send the voting package to. This can be your hostel or you can make arrangements with the local Canadian consulate/embassy. If you do the latter, you will need to consult with them first and give them some way to contact you when the package gets there.

Fill out the application and fax it off to the number on the instruction sheet. If all is in order, Elections Canada will send the voting package as soon as they verify your constituency and your name.

Once you receive the package, make sure it has everything. A blank ballot, an “inner” envelope, an “outer” envelope that has your name and constituency on it, and a mailing envelope. You will need to know the name of the person you are voting for. Write it out, put it in the “inner” envelope, seal it. Put that envelope in the “outer” envelope and seal it. Sign and date that envelope. Put that into the mailing envelope. seal it, stamp it, and mail it.

There, you’ve just voted!

If you happen, like me, to be in Canada during this period but outside your home riding, you can take your application to any Elections Canada office. There they will photocopy your ID, determine your riding and give you your package right there. You can even fill it out and vote at the same time, right there in the office.

It is possible to vote while backpacking. It just takes a bit more work. But in the end, I think it’s worth it.

Besides, you can’t complain if you don’t voice your opinion in the first place.

The rant that began the phenomenon

I’m ready and willing to scare the hell out of the political leaders.

Are you?

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