A Guide to Voting: a Literacy Practitioner Workbook for Voting in the 2015 Federal Election. Civic Literacy and Voting: Why does it matter?

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1 : a Literacy Practitioner Workbook for Voting in the 2015 Federal Election Civic Literacy and Voting: Why does it matter?

2 Introduction How to use this booklet We created this resource to help you engage your adult learners in civic literacy in advance of the October 2015 federal election. The information, links and suggested activities will help you talk to your students about why voting is important and how they can participate. is designed to be used by you, the instructor: use it to gather information or copy and distribute pages of the booklet at your discretion. Each page includes links for more information. We have also included a step-by-step activity at the end of the booklet to help you have your own practice election in the classroom or at home. Practice elections are really the best way to familiarize learners with the process of elections and build confidence and engagement in the process. Are you looking for more information? Visit the Elections Canada website at for more materials and links to help your learners navigate the 2015 elections. You can also contact your provincial or territorial government, your municipal government, and civic action organizations in your community. Have fun, and let us know what you think about : a Literacy Practitioner Workbook for Voting in the 2015 Federal Election. Please share your questions or comments with: Carissa Di Gangi Programs Specialist, Community ABC Life Literacy Canada 110 Eglinton Ave. East, Suite 604 Toronto, ON M4P 2Y x x 130 1

3 What is civic literacy? Civic literacy is the knowledge and skills you need to participate in making change in your community. In Canada, this includes: Voting Knowing how the government works Rights and responsibilities of citizens and elected members of government When you have strong civic literacy skills, you know how to make your voice heard by all levels of government before, during and after an election. We want every Canadian to vote, and every person to let the country know their beliefs, needs and wants. Voting Words voting In elections, when you choose a person to represent your wishes, ideas or beliefs in the government. election The formal process of choosing a person to represent you in the government. How voting works Voting in an election is the process of selecting a candidate who will speak for you in the government. When you vote, you are choosing a candidate that you think will best represent you and your wishes. Often this person is a member of a political party. Every vote is important. Even if the candidate you choose does not win, your vote shows all Canadians what is important to you and your community. This can help shape the government s decisions. In Canada, we vote in elections at the municipal, provincial/territorial, and federal level. This workbook will help you understand: Voting Words candidate A person who is running for an elected position. political party An organization of people with similar goals who work together to be elected and help make decisions in government. Why you should vote How to register to vote How federal elections work How to vote 2

4 Why vote? Voting is one way to make sure that your voice is heard when the government is determining what s important and what s not to Canadians. A Place for Your Notes Do you care about any of these things? Health care Economy Education Human rights Taxes Security Environment Members of government determine how much money or funding these areas get, and what laws apply to them. When you vote for an individual or a political party, you re saying that you agree with their values and their vision for Canada. With your vote, that candidate and the political party they represent are more likely to win and put those values and ideas into action. Sometimes, a political candidate wins an election by only a few votes. Every vote counts make sure yours is one of them! A History of the Vote in Canada Information on how voting has changed over the course of Canadian history. 3

5 How federal elections work In Canada, any citizen 18 years old or older can vote in a federal election. You vote for a candidate to represent your riding. The candidate who gets the most votes becomes your Member of Parliament (MP). They ll represent you in the House of Commons, where they ll decide on federal laws. Candidates are usually part of a political party. Members of a political party share similar views on how to make Canada better. Each party has a leader. The leader of the party with the most candidates elected becomes the Prime Minister. Voting Words riding A geographic area of the country that could be a community, region or town that has a candidate representing it in the government. Member of Parliament (MP) The elected candidate for a federal riding. House of Commons The 338 elected members of parliament. A Place for Your Notes The Electoral System of Canada A document for teachers that outlines Canada s political system and how elections are called, funded, and run. Maps Corner Explore for printable maps of Canada s electoral districts. 4

6 How to register to vote In order to vote in Canada, you need to register with Elections Canada. Registering is letting Elections Canada know who you are and where you live so that you are voting in the right riding, and you are only voting once. If you voted in the last election and haven t moved since then, you re probably already registered. But if you ve moved, have never voted before, or are living away from home for school, your voter information could be out of date. Save time on Election Day by making sure you re registered ahead of time. Visit to double-check or update your address information. Just enter your name, birth date, and address. You will see a message that tells you if you are registered or not. If you aren't, the website will give you a few options for how to register: online, by mail, or in person. Soon after the election is called, Elections Canada will send you a voter information card in the mail that tells you when and where to vote. Voting Words register The process of adding your name to an official list of voters. polling place A location where you vote on Election Day. It s often a school or community centre. A Place for Your Notes Can t register ahead of time or don t want to? That s fine. Bring the right ID with you to your polling place, and you can register right there on Election Day. It just takes a little bit longer. Get ready to vote A checklist on getting registered before election day. 5

7 Methods for voting You can vote four different ways: 1. On Election Day at your polling place 2. Ahead of time on an advance voting day 3. At a local Elections Canada office 4. By mail Most people vote on Election Day. You go to a building called a polling place it s someplace in your neighbourhood, like a school, community centre, or apartment building. All polling places are open for 12 hours on Election Day. How do you know where your polling place is? It s on your voter information card, which you get in the mail if you re registered to vote. You can also find your polling place by going to or calling All you need is your postal code. You can also vote ahead of time: On an advance voting day. There are now four of them, and they have their own polling places too. Polling places are open from noon until 8pm. At a local Elections Canada office. You can do this until the Tuesday before the election. By mail. Visit to apply to receive a voting kit. It will come to you in the mail. Send the kit back to Elections Canada with your vote and copy of your ID. Remember to send it early enough so that it gets to Elections Canada by Election Day. A Place for Your Notes FAQs on Voting It covers your rights as an employee to vote, and how employers must give you enough time to vote. 6

8 Types of identification needed to vote On Election Day, you need to bring identification (ID) with you to the polling place. You need ID even if you have registered to vote. If your ID doesn t show your current address, then someone who knows you can confirm where you live like your neighbour or your roommate. Have one of these pieces of ID? Driver s license Provincial or territorial ID card Any other government ID with your photo, name and address Then you re good to go! It s the only thing you need to bring to the polling place. What if I don t have a document with my address on it? Don t worry! Bring two pieces of ID with your name on them, and a neighbour who can confirm where you live. Your neighbour also needs to bring their photo ID with their name and address and they have to be registered at the same polling place as you. They can only vouch for one person. If you don t have one of the IDs above, don t worry! Bring two other pieces of ID. One must be an ID with your name on it. It could be: Health card Debit card Your Name Current Address Library card Another ID with your name The other has to be a document with your name and your address on it. It could be: A Place for Your Notes A lease A utility bill A letter from a school Another document with your name and address Tip: Get your bills online? No problem! You can show it to an election worker on your phone! Have your ID ready A list of the many types of ID and documents that you can bring to a polling place. 7

9 What happens at polling places Voting is a fun way to let the country hear your voice, but it can feel like a challenge that first time. There will be many election workers there to help you out. Election workers are there to help you, not promote or encourage you to vote for a candidate or political party. They are your friends and neighbours, and you can ask them anything! Here is what you do at a polling place on Election Day: Head right into the polling place. An election worker will be there to say hello and direct you to the right table. An election worker at your table will ask for ID to prove who you are and where you live. They will check your name on the voters list if you were registered, or add your name to it if not. They ll write their initials on a ballot, fold it and hand it to you. Take your ballot behind a voting screen. Mark the candidate you want to vote for. Fold your ballot back up. Head back to the election worker who gave you your ballot. They ll take it, tear off a tab, and hand it back to you. Have kids or other family members who are not voting yet? Take them with you to see our electoral process in action and help them understand the importance of voting. It s a great teaching opportunity for you and your community. DOE, John Independent/Indépendant DOE, Sandra Political Affiliation/Appartenance politique UNETELLE, Ann Political Affiliation/Appartenance politique UNTEL, Pierre Political Affiliation/Appartenance politique A Place for Your Notes Put your ballot in the box at the table. You re done! Vote in 6 steps. An infographic. 8

10 Accessibility in the voting process Polling places have tools and services to make sure voting is accessible to you. Every vote and every person is important to our elections, and Elections Canada works to make voting available to all Canadians. When you get to your polling place, you can expect: Voting Words accessible When a service or product is available to people with special needs. An automatic door opener, or an election worker who can help you out. Magnifiers A Place for Your Notes A tactile and Braille voting template that fits on top of a ballot A Large-print lists of candidates Assistance marking your ballot Want a Braille list of candidates? It will be available at your polling place on Election Day. Want sign language interpretation? Call TTY ahead of time to make sure it happens. Can t leave home and don t want to vote by mail? Call Elections Canada can send an election worker to your home so you can vote there. Accessibility For information on additional accessibility tools and services. 9

11 Suggested Activities Find your electoral district on elections.ca. How many districts are represented by your learners? Look at the maps of each district. Are the borders surprising? Who are the current Members of Parliament for the districts of everyone in your class? Go online to find their websites. What causes are they fighting for? How many political parties can your students name? Look up political parties online as a group. What makes them different? What things do they agree on? Have a bunch of cue cards or sheets of paper with an ID or document type written on them. As a group or in teams, find combinations you could use to take to a polling place. Stage a practice election. Set up your classroom to look like a polling place, with desks and shielded stations for voting. Create practice ballots. Have students and instructors take turns acting as election workers and voters. Go to pages for more information on running a practice election. Bonus If you have time, kick off the vote with a practice election campaign. Have a few of your students run as candidates: they can create platforms and political parties, and even make signs and slogans. After the votes from the rest of the class have been tallied, it s a good excuse for a celebration party. Canada at the Polls Additional Resources. 10

12 Practice Election Ahead of Election Day 1 Make a Voters List Add each learner to a voters list. If possible, have them register officially through producing the proper ID listed on Page 7. This list will serve as your official voters list for the election. Have learners identify any accessibility challenges they feel are important to allowing each and every voter to participate in the election. 2 Create Political Parties and Candidates Divide learners into three or more diverse groups, and have them create their own political parties. Each party should work as a team to establish what is important to them, and to build the policies, culture and beliefs that will be their platform for the election. 3 Host Candidate Speeches/Presentations Each political party selects a representative to act as their party leader, who will be the candidate in this practice election. Each party leader then presents their party s positions and ideas to the voters list/class. Encourage speakers to share what makes them different from the other parties. 4 Discuss and Debate Ask the class to consider who (and what political party) they feel best represents what is important for them and who they would like to vote for. Stress that they can vote for any candidate. 5 Prepare the Ballots Have a few learners or your staff be election workers and create the ballots. List each candidate and their political party. Fold each ballot so the candidate names are hidden. Use the example ballots on Page 13 to guide you. Make enough ballots for all your learners, plus a few extras. 6 Prepare the Polling Place Every election needs a place to vote. To set up your polling place, you will need a voters list, a ballot box, folded ballots, and an election worker or two to manage the process. (We recommend the instructor(s) fill the election worker roles). You can use any enclosed container for the ballot box. Ensure voters can make their selection in private. 11

13 Practice Election Vote 1 Each voter comes forward individually to the polling place and states their name (if possible, with proof of ID). 2 The election worker checks their name off from the voters list, and hands the voter a folded ballot. 3 The voter takes the ballot to a private area and marks their chosen candidate with a pencil. 4 The voter refolds the ballot and returns it to the election worker. (In Canada s elections, a part of the ballot is removed at this point, but for this activity you can skip that part.) The election worker hands the ballot back to the voter. 5 The voter places the ballot in the ballot box. 6 Continue through all voters, and you re done! Count the Votes Tip If the voter makes a mistake, they can request a new ballot but they can only do that once. Tip 1 Remove ballots from the ballot box. 2 Call out the selected candidate on each ballot, and record the votes on a separate piece of paper. 3 Pile ballots by each candidate s name for counting and double-checking. Have a separate pile for invalid ballots. 4 Announce the winner, and celebrate with your new political leader! If more than one candidate is selected, the ballot is invalid and is not counted. A sample of a ballot DOE, John Independent/Indépendant DOE, Sandra Political Affiliation/Appartenance politique You can follow this activity with class discussion on civic literacy and the importance of voting. Thank the class for their participation in this important responsibility, and encourage them to vote in the 2015 Federal Election. UNETELLE, Ann Political Affiliation/Appartenance politique UNTEL, Pierre Political Affiliation/Appartenance politique 12

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