Web-extra (May 24, 2018) A Newswest – How To Vote;
New Words for New Ontario Voters.
With more Canadians than ever being new to our election process, here are some words and terms you as a new Ontarian voter may need to know.
Ballot – Normally referring to a piece of specially printed paper where a voter marks their choice for local candidate in an election. “Casting a ballot” is neither a magical nor a fishy term. Voters cast a ballot when they mark their choice and put it in the “Ballot Box”. In Canada a Ballot box is normally just a cardboard box made specially to be used for a single day of the election (after that busy day the cardboard is retired).
Candidates – Pronounced like “Candy Dates” the sometimes sorry lot of potential political representatives who can never be as sweet. In Canadian elections, voters get to chose just one candidate for Provincial MPP/MLA ( and just one for Federal MP ). That elected representative MPP is responsible for elevating their party leader to the head of Government position we know as Premier (assuming the Lieutenant Governor can keep it together when presented with the ‘choice’).
Polls – This word may confuse some because it is used to both describe un-official surveys of potential voters, and to describe the official place where about a couple of hundred nearby voters will cast their votes on a ballot. And when the “Polls Close” the word poll is also used in the counting of ballots that is later reported on TV.
Polling Station – The location where a number of Official Polls are held. Typically it is in a public school or a community centre, or a meeting room in a place of worship close to the homes of the voters for those Polls. Some stations may be put in Old-age-Homes/Seniors Residences and have just one Official Poll for the station. Other special stations may be in Hospitals***, Colleges and Universities, and deal with voters whose Official Polls are far far away. Polling Stations are never held in Gas Bars nor Subway Train stations…AFAIK.
Riding – A word you might think of as a verb but used as a noun for elections. The Riding is the area of land where resident voters chose a single political representative. “Riding Associations” are not for Horses but are for “Political Parties” (and not the most fun sort of parties IMO). Those associations act locally to chose and assist candidates in local elections. For those of you into Horses however the term “First Past the Post” (describing our odd election format) does comes from Horse racing. An alternate term is Electoral District.
Returning Officer – This person is not a Police Officer, not a Military Person nor any other Government Official. The Returning Officer is a person you might even know from your street. They signup to work a full day helping people vote and making sure the voting goes properly. They are trained and sworn in by Elections Ontario to take responsibility for keeping an orderly Poll and have powers the Poll Clerk does not. The term Returning Officer is also used for a person higher in rank responsible for a Polling Station, and for a single person responsible for the whole Riding.
Poll Clerk – The Elections Ontario hired assistant to the Returning Officer for a given Poll. This person sits beside the Returning Officer for that Poll and does much (but not all) of the paperwork. The Poll Clerk does not handle the Ballots, but may handle other things and ask the voter questions to help find their place in the Official Voters Register.
Scrutineer – Are observers from the political parties who act as agents for their Candidates. Elections Ontario allows them to be present after making them swear an oath to act with-in the rules, and to maintain the privacy of voters. Scrutineers should not speak to voters nor do anything else to influence voting. Used mostly to help parties see if their likely voters make it to the Polls, Scrutineers also monitor the counting of votes, the determination of spoiled ballots, and any apparent mistakes in the application of Elections Ontario Rules. Their observations may be important if a recount is needed to determine the winning candidate for the Riding.
Voter Card – A postcard mailed to registered voters in Provincial and Federal Elections typically marked with;
- Name of Registered voter,
- Home Address of voter (Your Address),
- The Number of The Poll that voter should vote in. (Poll / Bureau de Vote),
- The Place and Address of the Polling Station for that Poll Number (You vote at),
- The Date for Polling (Election Day),
- The time the Poll Opens and the time the Poll Closes
- The name given to the Riding (Electoral District)
- Information on how to contact the authority for the election ( Elections Ontario elections.on.ca ).
Your card should be with you when you go to vote to save time and bother. You will also need one other piece of identification with your name and current address.
Federal MP – Member of Parliament.
MPP/MLA – Member of Provincial Parliament / Legislative Assembly (some assembly is always required).
Commentary appearing in italics should not be taken too seriously, as in…
“Lexicographer: A writer of dictionaries; a harmless drudge…” Samuel Johnston.
*** Note: The three day Hospital Program for patient voting was from May 21 to May 23rd 2018.