Canadians don't normally have to register in advance to vote. This year there are new rules requiring everyone to have ID at the polls, even if they've been voting in that riding for years. This seems pretty straightforward, but there are places in the north where people have nothing in the way of ID, pay cash rent to landlords who pay the utilities, but everyone in town not only knows who they are, but who their mother is, their entire family, and every single person they have dated, place they have been, and stupid thing they have done their entire life. It's not like you're going to walk into one of those communities and pretend you live there and people won't notice. There are also homeless people who chronically don't have ID. And the homeless do vote and want to vote. The people who don't have any ID are likely not people who would be voting for the current government. I'm not quite cynical enough to believe it is intentionally a disenfranchisement scheme. I do certainly hope no one is denied their right to vote over such a thing.
Myself, I will be away from home on election day, so I have to register to vote by special ballot. I didn't have a chance to do it between finding out I would be away and having to leave, so I stopped at an Elections Canada office in a small town. I got the address in advance from the Elections Canada toll-free line, but I didn't really need it, because it was the kind of small town that has one main street where all the businesses are. The Elections Canada office was set up in an abandoned supermarket, with elections workers being trained under the Meats sign and lots of bustling going on behind partitions down at the back in front of the Dairy section. I was directed to sit down at a desk in Fruits and Vegetables, and fill out a form. it was pretty simple, just name and address, birthdate, phone number and sign to certify that I qualify to vote in Canada. Then the elections worker realized she'd given me the wrong form. I'd filled out the one for electors which to vote by special ballot inside their home riding, and I was registering to vote outside my home riding. I was then given another form to fill out. It seemed to be identical except for the title of the form. They tore up and promised to also shred the first form and then took the second completed form and went off to Deli to get me the special ballot.
This took a long time. The problem was that they didn't know the official number of my home constituency. I knew its name, but not its number, and they didn't seem to have a way of looking that up. They did find me an alphabetical list of all the candidates running for election in my riding and then spotted the voter registration card which I had brought with me. I was told by Elections Canada that I would not need it to vote by special ballot, so the only reason I had it was that I had scrawled the address of this office on it. But it also had the number of my riding on the address label, so they were able to give me an official ballot and an array of envelopes and stickers.
My instructions are to print the name of my chosen candidate on the ballot, then seal the ballot in the anonymous white envelope. Next I will seal the anonymous envelope in the envelope with the name and number sticker on it, and I am to sign and date that envelope. Finally I will seal the identifying envelope in the mailing envelope, put a stamp on it, and send it. I thought it odd that I require a postage stamp. There is no charge for sending mail to a member of parliament: I would think they would do the same thing for a ballot, so that they would not be symbolically charging me the price of a stamp for the right to vote. When the ballot gets to Ottawa, someone will open the outer envelope, verify that the next envelope correctly identifies someone who has the right to vote, then they will open and discard that one and the sealed ballot is now anonymous and can be opened by someone else for counting.
The ballot is a very simple, plain piece of paper for such an important purpose. Rather than having some special watermarked, official paer, they've gone for the simplest, plainest piece of newsprint you could imagine.