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A Journey Towards Accessible Elections

Canadians with physical disabilities have always had the right to vote in principle, but they did not always have access to voting services. As early as 1874, Canadians were not prevented from the right to vote because they were blind or partially sighted; however, the elector had to ask the deputy returning officer to help them mark the ballot in the presence of sworn agents of the candidates – far from a secret ballot!

Over the years, CNIB has engaged in advocacy efforts to make sure Canadians who are blind or partially sighted have the right to cast their ballot privately and independently during federal elections. While the landscape of federal elections has changed drastically since 1930, CNIB continues to advocate to Parliamentarians and Elections Canada to include measures that would increase the independence and secrecy of the vote for electors who are blind or partially sighted.

On International Day of Persons with Disabilities, CNIB is highlighting some of our advocacy efforts related to federal elections. Read on to discover CNIB’s advocacy efforts over the years and learn about the electoral process for people who are blind or partially sighted in other parts of the world!

An archival photo from Bill 309, an Act to amend the Dominion Elections Act first reading May 27, 1930.

CNIB’s Advocacy from 1930 – Present

The Dominion Elections Act of 1874 outlined the voting processes in Canada, especially concerning voter’s rights. The Act establishes that voters shall have privacy when casting their ballot and have the right to have their ballot remain private, especially from the Deputy Returning Officer. For voters who were blind, this was not an option.
A woman kneels down beside her golden retriever guide dog.

Interviews with our advocates

CNIB interviewed five of our advocates across the country to capture their experience as voters who are blind or partially sighted. Watch the video below to get their take on what works during federal elections in Canada, what still needs to be changed, and get some tips and tricks on advocating at the polls!
Black and white image of a world map.

Accessible voting around the world

Voting around the world can look very different to what we are used to in Canada, where steps to reduce barriers to the electoral process have been underway for decades. Some countries have begun to reduce barriers to voting more recently, while others have already implemented popular solutions for electors with sight loss.
A black and white photograph of a woman.

From the Archives

The following archival materials were provided to CNIB by Elections Canada. Elections Canada is celebrating their 100th anniversary as Canada’s independent electoral agency.

GR - Lead Generation Form

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Help us Break Barriers

Join our community now and become part of a passionate group of people working to create a more inclusive Canada and a bolder future for everyone with sight loss.

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