How are you doing these days!
If you are a resident of BC, you will know that there was a provincial election that took place on October, 24, 2020.
Now, I have voted in many elections; the first one was for the 1988 Canadian federal election. I know that Brian Mulroney won this election. Did I vote for him? I honestly don’t recall!
I’ve cast my ballot in federal, provincial and municipal elections, in BC & Ontario.
I usually have family with me when I vote, my parents in ’88, I had just turned 20; from then until 2002, voted solo; since then with my wife.
By “with” I mean: my wife would assist in terms of directing me to the right desk to register, and then to the voting box to cast my vote. She wouldn’t hel; me read the electors or questions. She would also interpret what people were saying.
If I am voting solo; I would go to the venue and cause havoc! I’d run around the room throwing everything off the tables, pushing seniors in wheelchairs out the door, throwing chairs here and there, while yelling “Down with Mickey Mouse!” at the top of my voice, until the police arrive…
Yes, that is all false and I’m being super silly!
To be honest, if I am voting solo I would go into the venue, approach the first desk, gesture “I am Deaf” and show them my voter card. The person at the door would either point to the right table after reading my card, or guide me there if I had my white cane. The people behind the table would take my voter card, give me a ballot, and gesture to which booth to go to to cast my vote. No devices were offered, until the 2015 federal election.
I usually do know who I am voting for, but I rarely research party goals or objectives.
All that aside, I want to highlight that I used an intervenor to vote! Aside from my wife, I have never used an intervenor, or interpreter, to fulfil my democratic right to vote as a Canadian citizen.
I had an intervenor, coincidentally, on the first day of advance polling for my riding.
We arrived at the polling venue, the intervenor guided me inside, after explaining what the building looked like. I was greeted with a warm “Hello! How are you today?” by the greeter at the door. I replied in kind, using ASL, “I’m great! Thank you.”
Upon seeing me sign, and that the intervenor voiced for me, the greeter correctly jumped to the right conclusion: “Oh, are you Deaf?” she enquired.
“I am DeafBlind,” I responded, “this is my intervenor, who will help me vote.”
The greeter immediately directed me to a table in the middle of the room. I was guided there by, well, you know, the intervenor!
At this table two or three Election workers were conferring. Then one approached me, saying “The intervenor needs to sign a paper to say that she is supporting me.” Okay, that is fine with me and fine with the intervenor. However, the greeter vetoed that decision. She asked me “Are you marking the paper yourself?” to which I replied affirmatively. So, she said that “The intervenor did not need to sign anything, as she was only providing visual and auditory information.”
With that little snafu out of the way; I was guided to the registration table, then given a folded ballot and told to mark one person and then fold it back up, tear off something, and put the ballot in the box.
My intervenor guided me to voting booth, were I unfolded the ballot and asked the intervenor to tell me who was on the list.
She did that with every nominee on the list: name and party. I asked her again, as I got confused and wanted to make sure the person I was going to vote for was listed in right spot. I did not tell the intervenor who I was voting for.
I then bent down to make that X marked the person I was voting for. Then I folded up the paper as instructed, and took to the front again. I put that ballot in the box, sans the tear-off.
I was elated! Happy to vote, happy to use an intervenor in a new experience! The staff gave me an “I voted” sticker instead of a cookie, COVID-19 was still raging!
All in all, it took me 20 minutes to vote, and I had all the information I needed! Most importantly, I was supported by the intervenor!
I do want to make one thing clear, my wife has supported me, in many ways that even I know, when voting. She has always provided me with all information, both visual and auditory, and guiding. Why is this situation noteworthy? The intervenor in this setting is employed by an agency. She was working and being paid, whereas my wife is, well, volunteering. My wife supports me out of love!
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