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Electoral Insight – Persons with Disabilities and Elections

Electoral Insight – April 2004

Chief Electoral Officer's Message
Persons with Disabilities and Elections

Jean-Pierre Kingsley
Chief Electoral Officer of Canada


Jean-Pierre Kingsley

Jean-Pierre Kingsley
Chief Electoral Officer, Elections Canada

One of the most important measures of the accessibility of the electoral process is the ease with which persons with disabilities can exercise their right to vote. A little over a decade ago, major obstacles were removed at the federal level through amendments to the Canada Elections Act. Other improvements have followed, and the accessibility of the Canadian federal electoral process is now recognized as a model for other countries. A number of provincial governments have also adapted their election laws and practices. The first four articles in this issue of Electoral Insight document these developments and remind readers of what remains to be done.

The improvements to the accessibility of the electoral process for persons with disabilities include the special ballot, level access at election premises, election day registration and public information programs. Groups representing persons with disabilities have contributed greatly by challenging discriminatory laws and practices, and by providing valuable advice to election administrators.

As Canadians become accustomed to a new federal political financing regime, this issue provides an assessment of the United States Supreme Court's decision to uphold the 2002 Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act (the subject of an article in the May 2002 issue of Electoral Insight). The American legislation had quite different objectives from Canada's Bill C-24 (adopted in 2003). However, some of the issues at stake, notably the degree to which campaign finance legislation may limit free speech, echo some aspects of the Canadian debate on political financing regulation.

The July and November 2003 issues of Electoral Insight provided extensive analyses of factors related to the lower turnout rates of young Canadians and Aboriginal people. In this issue, we return to the question of electoral participation among these groups. The reports on two major consultative exercises sponsored by Elections Canada shed further light on our understanding of the trends and present participants' varied suggestions about what should be done. Further information on Elections Canada's youth initiatives is found in the "Electoral News in Brief" section.

Finally, I wish to invite readers of this publication to send me comments about articles in Electoral Insight. Letters can be submitted to the postal or e-mail address on the opposite page.

Jean-Pierre Kingsley


Note: 

The opinions expressed are those of the authors; they do not necessarily reflect those of the Chief Electoral Officer of Canada.