2023 By-Election for Mayor of the City of Toronto- will it be accessible?

By Allan Shaw – 2023-04-26

If you’re a person living with a visual disability in the City of Toronto, you are all too aware of the challenges encountered when trying to vote in a municipal election, everything from the accessibility of the polling location, training of onsite staff and inaccessibility of the ballot and lack of accommodations.

Will this election be accessible, NOT A HOPE IN HELL!

Over the past several municipal elections and their inaccessibility I’ve followed up with my local counsel member and city representatives and were still dealing with the same issues and below is the recent response:

“During the 2022 Toronto general election and for the 2023 by-election for mayor, we have a braille mail-in voting package option available. Voters can apply online or by phone from May 1 to May 26 and indicate they would like the braille option mailed to them. The contents of a braille mail-in voting package are similar to your suggestions below. Further information is available at: http://www.toronto.ca/VoteByMail.
Click on the header for Braille Mail-in Voting Package Requests for specific information.”

“For the upcoming by-election we are also providing Voter Assist Terminals (VATs) at all of our 50 advance voting locations (June 8-13) and at 2 locations per ward on election day (June 26). The VAT provides a braille keypad and many other features to allow voters with disabilities to mark their ballot privately and independently.”

“Toronto Elections will be researching the option of offering braille overlays at all voting locations for future general elections. When we begin planning for the 2026 general election, can I reach out to you? I would appreciate your thoughts and feedback during our planning stage.”

The voting by mail site states:

If you require assistance with the online application process, completing the package and marking your ballot or mailing your completed Mail-in Vote package, call 416-338-1111 and press option 5 to discuss accessibility options.

You are encouraged to seek assistance from a family member, care giver or designate, but a candidate running in the 2023 by-election for mayor cannot provide assistance.

Braille Mail-in Voting Package Requests

You can request a braille mail-in voting package when applying to vote by mail online or by phone starting May 1. Braille Mail-in Voting packages will be mailed out through Canada Post starting May 25.

Additional resources and instructions will be sent by email when the package is mailed out.

Braille package components will include:

  • 1. A declaration/instruction form in braille and print to be signed and returned.
  • 2. A braille overlay template for marking your official ballot.
  • 3. An official ballot.
  • 4. An official candidate list in braille and print that matches your official ballot and overlay template.
  • 5. A ballot secrecy envelope with a braille embossed identifying label.
  • 6. A yellow return envelope with pre-paid postage and braille embossed identifying label.

To an informed, enlighten, insightful, intelligent individual who recognizes and understands the duty to accommodate, a solution for increasing accessibility would be to ensure that all polling locations are equipped with items #2 A braille overlay template for marking your official ballot and #4 An official candidate list in braille and print that matches your official ballot and overlay template but apparently that’s something for the future even though its possible and available today.

When is this idiocy going to finally end?

So here is my recommendation to those living with a visual disability:

Request a braille mail in ballot package which you can complete and mail in or set the braille overlay template for marking your official ballot and the official candidate list in braille which matches your official ballot and overlay template and aside and take them with you to your polling station to vote independently.

Contact your local member of council and demand that these templates be distributed to all polling locations. Members of Council – City of Toronto

Contact: elections@toronto.ca or Call: 416-338-1111 and demand that these templates be provided at all polling locations.

If we don’t take action and ignite a fire under the ass of the Toronto election office, nothing is going to change and our rights continued to be violated!