NWT voters will see new guidelines at October polls

NWT residents hoping to vote in the fast approaching territorial election are going to have some new, stricter guidelines before casting their ballot.

The Elections and Plebiscites Act was changed by the Legislative Assembly in 2010 to add that all eligible voters must present valid identification proving their identity and residency.

Previously, anyone without identification could be vouched for by the deputy returning officer at the polls.

NWT Chief Electoral Officer David Brock said that the purpose behind changing the Act was to help ensure clean elections.

“We hear about election fraud in other countries, but are fortunate in the North and in Canada to have clean elections,” he said.

“Asking voters to show identification before receiving a ballot is another way to ensure that the NWT electoral system will remain among the best in the world.”

He also added that the identification system is no different than the one used Canada-wide for the federal elections.

“The new rules are intended to keep up with best practices in election law across Canada,” he said. “The Legislative Assembly¬† chose to adopt a voter identification system very similar to the voter identification rules used in federal elections. One of the reasons for choosing to mirror the federal model, is that NWT voters already have practice using that system.”

Acceptable identification includes NWT driver’s licences and NWT General Identification Cards or a piece of photo identification and a proof of residence on two separate documents.

Brock noted that NWT MLAs have recognized that some residents, particularly those in more remote communities may not have up-to-date photo identification.

They left it up to the chief electoral officer to determine what other pieces of identification would be acceptable for identity and residence proof and a list of acceptable documents including status cards, fishing licences, income support statements or shelter letters would be acceptable.

It was also deemed that the vouching system would be acceptable in those situations.

From Sept. 21 to Oct. 1 eligible voters can vote in the Office of the Returning Officer without identification as long as they are known by the returning officer or assistant returning officer.

More information on the new voting identification system can be found at www.electionsnwt.ca.