“Did you know criminals will be voting in the upcoming Federal Election?” Yes, legally!
Updated: Nov 12, 2019
The right to vote not only belongs to ex-Offenders in Canada but extends to those STILL incarcerated and serving their sentences.
When I encounter Americans online or through my public speaking, many are surprised to learn that I, an ex-Offender (or Felon as they would describe me), not only voted in the last Election but also worked as a Polling Officer counting votes.
“ The goal of incarceration should not be to punish but to produce a “product” that the public wants; namely, a person that will re-integrate and not re-offend after release. ”
Inmates are Still Members of Society
Once they stop shaking their heads in disbelief at the “rights” I have that most in my situation in their country do not, I leave them completely dumbfounded by telling them that the right to vote not only belongs to ex-Offenders in Canada but extends to those STILL incarcerated and serving their sentences.
As of 2002 and a ruling by the Supreme Court of Canada, all prisoners who are eighteen years of age or older on Election Day have had the right to vote (with the institutions incarcerating them required by law to facilitate that process). For reasons that I assume include preventing a “cell-block voting block” from having too much electoral power in the town or city where a large prison is located, an inmate's place of residence for voting is not where they are incarcerated but either where they resided before being incarcerated, where their spouse or dependent resides, the place of their arrest, or the last Court where they were sentenced.
Another difference for prisoners is that they do not vote on Election Day, but, instead, twelve days beforehand (which this year is October 9th). Polling stations inside are set up to operate just like on the outside, though inmate-voters are given voting kits that require them to sign a declaration acknowledging their name, that they have not already voted, and that they will not try to vote again in the same election. Incarcerated voters must then write the name of their candidate on the ballot for whom they want to cast their vote back in their home riding (rather than place an X beside a choice like you or I do). As you can imagine with such a requirement, some names of candidates are not recorded or attributed accurately by inmates and, because of that, in the 2015 federal election, 1,689 ballots of the 22,362 ballots cast by Canadian prisoners were rejected.
As someone that has done time in four prisons, six jails, and two half-way houses, I have long believed that the goal of incarceration should not be to punish but to produce a “product” that the public wants; namely, a person that will re-integrate and not re-offend after release. Reminding inmates that they are still members of a just Society worthy of respect by allowing them to participate in its voting process, with all the rights and responsibilities that entails for citizens, contributes to that goal and should be lauded by all regardless of their political affiliation.
The above blog post is for informational purposes only and based on my own observations and life experience and does not constitute financial, accounting, or legal advice. If you have any doubts as to the merits of any investment, you should always seek advice from a registered independent financial advisor of which I am not and have never been.