Political parties cater to seniors on election day

With the mayoral race in this weekend’s civic election becoming too close to call, both Vision Vancouver and the NPA are some of the parties ensuring voters have the opportunity to cast their ballot.

That is particularly true when it comes to seniors. Both Vision and the NPA promise to provide transportation to anyone without a ride, including seniors, who contacts them.

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But when it comes to campaigning to seniors, access depends on how welcome they are. The Courier contacted several seniors centres, including Kerrisdale and the 411 on Terminal Avenue, and was told for the sake of fairness politicians aren’t allowed to campaign there or leave pamphlets for residents.

Publicist Ann Gibbon, speaking on behalf of the NPA, said some of that party’s candidates have gotten permission to visit seniors centres to say hello, answer questions and provide any information needed to help them make their choice on election day Nov. 15.

Vision Vancouver incumbent Tony Tang said, as the liaison councillor to the Vancouver Seniors Advisory Committee, he is a regular visitor to seniors centres and care homes across the city.

“Most of the seniors already know about me,” said Tang. “But about six months ago I started reminding them, ‘Remember, this is an election year.’”

Tang added he knows many seniors have already taken advantage of advanced voting opportunities to cast their ballot. He said Vision Vancouver will give rides to seniors who request it.

Tang said he’s noticed younger seniors have a strong interest in the issues and the upcoming election, while older seniors are keen to vote but tend to cast their ballot for individuals rather than along party lines.

On Nov. 15, Vancouver residents have the opportunity to elect one mayor, 10 councillors, seven park board commissioners and nine school board trustees. And while the City of Vancouver says it’s never been easier to vote, a blog posted on the Vancouver Seniors Advisory Committee website Oct. 24, says that’s not the case when it comes to seniors.

“Full participation includes the ability of all residents to vote in the Nov. 15 civic election, but we have heard from many residents that a significant barrier is posed by the absence of advance polling stations in the northeast quadrant of the city,” writes Eddy Elmer. “This quadrant includes the Grandview-Woodland, Downtown Eastside and Renfrew areas, all of which have a sizable population of older adults, especially those with low incomes.”

He added the community centres designated as advance polling stations from Nov. 4 to 12 are a significant distance from those areas, “presenting a possible obstacle for older adults who cannot vote on Nov. 15. This is of particular concern for older adults with physical disabilities and/or those who must rely on public transit.”

The last day of advanced voting is today (Nov. 12). For the first time ever, residents can cast their ballot at any voting location in the city on election day. That means whether anyone running errands, spending the day with their family, or at work, can vote at the location that’s most convenient. In a recent change legislated by the provincial government, the people elected to city council, park board and school board will be in power for four years, almost half a decade. Voters will also help decide whether to authorize the city to borrow money for major projects including parks, roads, affordable housing, childcare and transportation.

If you’ve registered for the voter’s list in the past, you’re likely registered for this year’s election. A voter information card should have arrive in the mail by now, but if not visit elections.bc.ca.

If you’re not on the voter’s list, you can register on the day you vote with two pieces of identification that indicate name, signature and residential address. If you have only one piece of ID, you can still vote if you swear a declaration of residence.

The polls will be open Nov. 15 from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. at nearly 120 high-traffic locations across Vancouver, including Oakridge Mall, International Village Mall and the Vancouver Art Gallery.

Multilingual staff and audio devices will be onsite. Anyone unable to attend can register online or call 311 to receive a ballot to vote by mail.

Anyone with no fixed address, but a general place of residence such as a street corner or a commonly frequented shelter, can register to vote as long as they have two pieces of identification. The option to swear a declaration if you only have one piece is also open.

sthomas@vancourier.com

twitter.com/sthomas10

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