In most jurisdictions across Canada, voters have to either present ID or be vouched for by another voter in order to prove their eligibility to cast a ballot. Not in P.E.I. If you want to vote in the Island’s municipal or provincial elections, all you have to do is swear on a Bible that you’re who you say you are.
The province does door-to-door confirm–ation of its voter registry, meaning its electorate lists are very thorough. But unregistered voters still show up at polling stations. “You can really go from poll to poll to poll, all the different stations, and put in a vote,” says Charlottetown Coun. Melissa Hilton. The simple way to prevent this, she says, is requiring ID from anyone not on the voter list.
Lowell Croken, P.E.I.’s chief electoral officer, disagrees. He says voter fraud has never been reported on the Island, and that even though residents must prove their identity to vote in federal elections, it’s too much of a hassle to have the same requirement at the municipal or provincial level. “Proving one’s ID at a polling station . . . for some is very difficult, and some electors may unintentionally be disenfranchised,” he says. “Updating a new address on a driver’s licence may not always be a priority.”
Hilton argues, “If all levels of government were consistent with their guidelines and their rules I think it would make polling day so much easier.” But the councillor’s argument has fallen on mostly deaf ears. She tried to get Charlottetown to change its regulations, but city council voted down her proposal 5-4, saying it wanted to keep regulations consistent across the island, and that it’s the province’s job to make any changes. So, at least for the time being, elections officers will have to keep taking Islanders at their word.