City of Kitchener empowers all eligible electors to cast their vote this October
Where will you be on Oct. 22? If you are an eligible elector, the City of Kitchener hopes you will be making your way to one of many polling locations across the city to exercise your right to vote. To participate in a Municipal Election is to contribute positively to your community, by helping to determine the government that will serve you in making important decisions regarding everyday services such as roads, public transit, childcare, local policing, water and sewers, and parks and recreation.
The City of Kitchener understands the significance of an election for residents, which is why they have increased their efforts to provide the voting public with the information and resources they need to enable them to have their say and cast their ballot during the upcoming Municipal Election.
“All eligible members of our community have the right to vote,” said Christine Tarling, director of legislated services and city clerk. “It is the city’s mandate and foremost priority to provide an ease of access to the information residents need to feel empowered to exercise that right.”
For the city, empowering all members of the community to vote involved providing information and opportunities to vote for all residents, particularly those without a permanent address. In partnership with St. John’s Kitchen and Ray of Hope, the city worked with staff to provide resources and information to members of the public without a permanent address to encourage them to vote.
“We are happy that Ray of Hope can support residents without a permanent address in the voting process,” said Tonya Veburg, chief executive officer for Ray of Hope. “It is vital that all members of our community have the opportunity to have their voice heard and have their vote count.”
Unhoused residents without valid identification can obtain the paperwork needed to vote without having to connect with city staff directly or travel to city hall. In addition to this, advanced polling stations are being hosted at both sites on Oct. 11 - at St. John’s Kitchen from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. and Ray of Hope from 4- 8 p.m. to provide unhoused residents with opportunities to vote in a space that is easily accessible and familiar.
“We’ve taken a proactive approach to remove the barriers that may inhibit residents without permanent housing from voting,” suggested Tarling. “We believe strongly that the voting process should be inclusive and that all residents have the right to cast their ballot with dignity.”
“To be able to vote in a place of acceptance and non-judgement is an important statement to our community, echoed Tom Friesen, outreach worker at St. John’s Kitchen. “It says ‘your voice matters.’”
To help facilitate an accessible and inclusive democratic process, the city also visited the YMCA, numerous soup kitchens and shelters, as well as alternative housing units to put up posters and connect with staff to expand their reach. As well, 5000 door hangers were distributed to 38 high-rise rental apartment buildings across the city to increase awareness of the upcoming election and to provide residents with voting information.
“Voter notification cards are mailed to residents as a courtesy to provide information on where and when to vote,” indicated Tarling. “Voter Notification Cards are not required to vote, but the information they provide can translate into greater voter turnout for residents. Eligible electors who are not in possession of a VNC can still vote and so providing an ease of access to information online and via phone to encourage them to cast their ballot was an important step in the process.”
The City of Kitchener has done its best to make the voting process easier for voters – the rest is up to you. Participate in the process and have your voice heard! Advanced Polls are open Oct. 10-13. Those looking to vote during the advanced polls dates can find information on polling locations and hours of operation at www.kitchener.ca/election.