Confusion over Langford electoral ridings

Some residents not included in the Langford riding

Some West Shore residents are already shaking their heads this election. With newly drawn riding lines, some residents have found themselves clumped into a different riding than expected.

Langford resident Neal Carmichael came across Elections Canada’s website and decided to see which riding he would be voting in. He plugged in his postal code and much to his surprise the website told him he lived in Colwood and would be voting in the Esquimalt-Saanich-Sooke riding, not the Cowichan-Malahat-Langford riding.

“I thought it was funny because there is a constituency with the name Langford in it,” he said.

He thought there must be some mistake so he logged onto the site again to make sure he was registered and updated his information since he had moved. Again, the website told him he lived in Colwood and would be voting in that riding.

“It told me specifically I lived in Colwood,” he said. Concerned he was incorrectly labeled as a Colwood resident, he contacted Elections Canada to find out which riding he was supposed to be voting in. At the time of the Gazette’s press deadline, he had not heard back from Elections Canada.

While the 3000-block of Brittany Drive, where Carmichael lives, is technically on the Langford side of the Galloping Goose border, it has been designated with Colwood in the Esquimalt-Saanich-Sooke riding. He is concerned this will cause a lot of confusion for other residents in his area, who believe they will be voting in the Langford riding.

“I’d rather vote in Langford, it makes more sense,” he said.

John Enright, a spokesperson for Elections Canada said there has been some confusion with the new ridings, especially in areas where there have been a number of changes.

“The website is the best place to go,” he said.

He urged electors to look up the new riding maps on their website. The maps, he said, are the authority on what areas are included in ridings for federal elections, not municipal borders.

Elections Canada isn’t actually responsible for determining those riding boundaries. In fact, 10 independent commissions across the country reassess the ridings every 10 years after a census. They take into consideration a number of factors when determining the lines. Things such as communities of interest, or municipal boundaries, are considered so like-minded groups are not arbitrarily split up.

But as Enright said, “they are not bound to that.”

Elections Canada is also urging electors to log onto their website and take advantage of their online voter registration service, like Carmichael did, to see if they are registered, to register, or to update information.

“It’s easy to do and it’s a new service,” Enright said. He added that Elections Canada will also be sending out personalized voting cards to registered voters at the end of the month. These cards will have more information on where electors can go to vote.

But if you don’t want to wait until Oct. 19 to cast your ballot, you can vote at any one of the roughly 480 Elections Canada offices across the country from now until Oct. 13.

“Essentially you’re voting by mail without the stamp,” Enright said. He said this option came as a surprise to many Canadians.

But in the last federal election, he said, roughly 231,500 Canadians in country voted by special ballot.

Election Canada offices are currently open weekdays between 10 a.m. and 5 p.m. but those hours will change closer to the election date.

To find the office nearest you or to find out if you are registered to vote go to elections.ca.

katie@goldstreamgazette.com