Elections Canada policy on accessibility and service offering for people with disabilities

With the federal election less then two weeks away, it is a good time to share the Elections Canada policy on accessibility and service offering for people with disabilities. It is a long document, but some relevant highlights from the included link, http://www.elections.ca/content2.aspx…,  include:

Here are the tools and services we offer:
•Magnifiers with light (4x)
•A tactile and Braille voting template that fits on top of a ballot
•Large-print lists of candidates
•Braille lists of candidates (available on election day only)
•Language or sign language interpretation (must be requested ahead of time)
•Assistance in marking a ballot
•Improved voting screens that let in more light

Service Animals

Elections Canada supports the use of service animals to assist voters with disabilities when they go vote at polling places.

In some cases, local laws have specific requirements regulating the presence of service animals in public spaces. If you believe your service animal is not permitted in your polling place, call us at 1-800-463-6868 and we'll put you in touch with your returning office to make alternate arrangements.

Election workers are fully aware that service animals are working animals and should not be distracted, spoken to or offered food.

Assistance from an Election Worker or Someone Else

Voters with disabilities may require the assistance of a support person to help them vote. Support people provide assistance to a person with a disability and may be a family member, friend, personal support worker, intervener or sign-language interpreter.

Election workers receive cross-disability awareness and sensitivity training to communicate directly with the voter and not his or her support person. The support person will be required to take an oath to respect the secrecy of the voter's choice. The oath is administered by the deputy returning officer. If you require assistance, please let the election worker know how he or she can help.

If you do not have a support person and you request help, a deputy returning officer can help you mark your ballot. This will always be done in full view of a poll clerk. In these situations, no one else may be present.

Example of an assisted voting process
1.Let the election worker know that you would like assistance to vote and express your preferences. We recognize that everyone has different needs and the election worker will assist you in the best way possible.
2.The deputy returning officer or other election worker will ask the voter for which candidate he or she wishes to vote and marks the ballot on his or her behalf.
3.An election worker then asks the voter whether he or she wants to put the ballot in the ballot box or prefers the deputy returning officer to do it on his or her behalf.

Assistive Devices

Voters with disabilities, in particular people with a visual impairment, may use a personal mobile device, such as a smart phone, to read their ballot behind the voting screen.

All reasonable steps should be taken to preserve the secrecy of the vote. It is not permitted to transmit an image of a marked ballot to a third party. Also, voters who use mobile devices should bring earphones and any recording made should not be retained.

The use of a mobile device and any applications required for this purpose are the voter's responsibility. Elections Canada does not guarantee the reliability of technology in this area.

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