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Fair Elections Act may affect aboriginal reserves

By Jordan Merkley [1]

BELLEVILLE – There is fear residents of some First Nations reserves may not be able to vote in the October federal election due to the new stipulations of the Fair Elections Act [2].

A proper address is now required by every voter, and vouching [3] (having someone confirm your identity at the voting place) has been eliminated. Paul Latchford, the manager of aboriginal services at Loyalist College, says lack of address is a reality for many people living on reserves.

“Some may use a post office box, and some people may not have a formal mailing address,” said Latchford.

But despite these new regulations, there are still options available for anyone who wants to cast a ballot.

The Elections Canada website [4] provides a full list of options in terms of providing identification [5]. One option is a letter of confirmation of residence [6] for those who are living on reserves without an address. If signed by the band or reserve, this can serve as a second piece of identification as well as proof of address.

In addition, Elections Canada has published voting information in a number of different aboriginal languages to make voting more accessible to everyone living on reserves.

But Latchford said even with all of these voting options, it may be more than just lack of address that is keeping some aboriginals from voting:

http://www.qnetnews.ca/wp-content/uploads/2015/09/burli-audio-paul-2.mp3 [7]

This mentality is a holdover from the days when aboriginals did not have the right to vote in federal elections, Latchford said.

But with politicians voicing more concern for aboriginals and their issues in the past few years, he said, more may be enticed to vote.

http://www.qnetnews.ca/wp-content/uploads/2015/09/burli-audio-paul-3.mp3 [8]

If aboriginals living on reserves decide to vote, it could have a big impact on the results of the election, Latchford said.