With voting day looming in the Canadian federal election, there are some dos and don’ts of polling station etiquette. Yahoo Canada spoke to Elections Canada about some of the common mistakes voters make and what happens if you accidentally mark your ballot wrong.
No selfies with your ballot
Once inside a polling station, you cannot take a picture of or with your ballot. Posting a photo of a completed ballot is a violation of the Canada Elections Act.
If the individual is investigated and found guilty of intentionally violating the act, it can lead to six months in prison or a $5,000 fine, or both.
“You cannot jeopardize the secrecy of your vote,” said Diane Benson, spokesperson for Elections Canada.
Benson explained there is a central poll supervisor at every voting location across the country to observe and ensure individuals aren’t taking photos or violating the rules.
“If they see someone taking a photo, they can say ’I’m sorry, that’s not allowed and you’re going to have to delete that,” she told Yahoo Canada.
So consider yourself warned: no ballot selfies. If you’re itching to have a photo from election day, you can take one outside of the polling place.
No videos, either
While cellphone use is is permitted for certain reasons inside the polling place, individuals are not allowed to take videos with their mobile device or camera.
Similar to the no photo of your ballot rule, if a voter takes a video of a completed ballot, they could face jail time or a fine.
Journalists and news stations are also not allowed to take video inside the polling place either.
“This is a solemn place for you to be voting and you don’t want to be distracted by cameras,” said Benson.
No partisan activity at polls
Voters are not allowed to have any “emblem, flag, banner or other thing that indicates that the person supports or opposes” a political party or particular candidate, according to the Elections Canada Act.
“A polling station is a non-partisan space so people are not allowed declare who they voted for,” said Benson.
Candidates cannot come into a polling station and start handing out pamphlets either.
“We’re trying to create a neutral space,” she said.
There’s also a rule in the act that states: individuals are not allowed to use loudspeakers “within hearing distance of a polling station on polling day for the purpose of promoting or opposing” a political party. If a person intentionally violates the loudspeakers rule, they could be fined $2,000, face jail time of up to three months, or both.
Electronic bank statement accepted
Did you know you could show an electronic bank statement on your smart phone as proof of ID? You don’t need to bring in physical mail, this is one of those times that you can use your phone.
“We accept electronic statements, you can either print them or show them on your phone,” said Benson.
When it comes to bringing the right ID on Oct. 21, Benson reminds voters: “Make a plan before heading out the door. You need to prove your identity and where you live.” For a full list of IDs that Elections Canada accepts, see here.
What’s the lineup etiquette?
Once you’re in line, you wait behind the yellow line about five or six feet away from the table where you’ll get your ballot.
A voter must wait until the individual in front of them has shown their ID, received their ballot, been shown how to vote, cast their vote, and placed the ballot in the box before they approach the table.
“Even if you go as a couple let’s say, you have to vote separately, one at a time,” said Benson.
Mistakes marking your ballot
“It can happen, where somebody goes to vote and makes a mistake, for example, it’s not what they meant or they didn’t read it right,” said Benson.
“You can come back out and ask for a replacement ballot,” she said. But an important thing to note is: you can only do so once.
The ballot with the mistake on it is then categorized as a spoiled ballot.
If there’s a rip or tear in your paper, that would also be considered a spoiled ballot and you’d be eligible for a replacement then too, Benson notes.
Can you decline your ballot at the polls?
Say you want to make a political statement and leave your ballot blank, that would be considered a rejected ballot.
“If you came in, accepted your ballot, went behind the screen and didn’t mark anything and put in in the box, that would go into a pile called rejected ballots when the team counts the votes,” Benson said.
Rejected ballots are also ones where voters scribble on them or mark an “x” beside two candidates.