The importance of accessible voting

Today, I wrote an e-mail to the city staff responsible for administering the upcoming election, bringing this map of polling stations to their attention (click the map to enlarge):

Can you see any problems with it? I see a big problem: in order to vote, half of the ward either needs to cross the CN tracks or the Hanlon. There are no polling stations in the north part at all! This isn’t a huge problem for people with cars, but it makes voting almost inaccessible to the large part of our neighbourhood east and north of Westwood Road… an area with lower-income, co-operative, and higher-density housing in which car ownership is certainly not a given!

Ward 4 really struggles with pedestrian accessibility and alternative transportation options. We’re bisected by the CN Rail tracks and split from the rest of Guelph by the Hanlon. With the current plan, a large part of the neighbourhood has to give at least an hour of their day to vote — or, more likely, will choose not to vote at all.

This problem is exacerbated by the lack of advance polls in the west end — the nearest one is at City Hall — so that’s not even an option for a lot of people. Finally, to add to the confusion, there are two polling locations literally adjacent to each other: St. Francis of Assisi CS and Taylor Evans PS… and in this election, you’re allowed to vote anywhere in your ward, making this an unnecessary duplication.

The two halves of Ward 4 need equivalent accessibility to city services, which this layout fails to provide.

I sent an e-mail (attached to this post) expressing my concerns to the city staffers in question. My goal is to have city staff restore the previous election polling locations — either Westwood PS or St. Peter CS — which are accessible locations that are much more centrally-located in the north part of Ward 4.

This is the kind of accessible, community-oriented advocacy that you can expect from me on council. Hopefully we can nip this problem in the bud, before it actually becomes an issue on voting day. In the meantime, if you support this change, please reach out to city staff as well! You can write a quick e-mail to guelphvotes@guelph.ca, or tweet @CityofGuelph.

Let them (and me!) know what you think.

Matt

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