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2007 10 11
No Driver’s License, Lesser Service

I am one of those Torontonians whose driver’s license languishes in her wallet, expiry date long past. The picture is faded, the text is virtually unreadable, and it sports an address which is twelve years old. Although I have no desire to get my license once again, this does sometimes present a problem when photo i.d. is needed. I have had to sweet talk many a bank employee into accepting it. And I still have one of the old picture-less health cards, so no help there.

Being extra conscious of photo id requiring occasions, I made sure to check the Elections Ontario website before voting this evening to see what type of i.d. was eligible. I was glad to see that you could bring either one document that had your name, residential address and signature (such as a driver’s license or insurance policy), or bring two documents which cumulatively fulfilled these criteria (such as a debit card and a T4 statement). I opted for the one document option, and chose to bring a ‘loan or financial agreement with a financial institution.’ Just to be on the safe side, I also brought a credit card and telephone bill statement.

However, arriving at my poll, presenting the aforementioned ‘loan or financial agreement with a financial institution’, I was met with a confused look by the polling representative. As her eyes darted frantically over the document, I pointed out to her that this was my ‘loan or financial agreement with a financial institution’. She looked at me quizzically and asked me if I didn’t have “a driver’s license or something.” I told her that I had checked the Elections Ontario website prior to voting and had confirmed that this document was eligible as i.d. She gave me a stony look and asked me what else I had. When I showed her my credit card and phone bill, all was well, and the voting proceeded.

My question is this: what good is it if Elections Ontario accepts a wide variety of documentation to prove your identity, when the electoral officials at the polls don’t know the rules themselves? It worked out for me in this case, but what if I was one of the many in this city who are unable to obtain a credit card? I do not imagine that one of the lesser used acceptable forms of i.d. (such as ‘any document issued by a Band council in Ontario [established under the Indian Act]’) would be met with any less resistance.

I have put in a complaint to a very apologetic Elections Ontario employee, and will wait to see if anything comes of it. Understanding that these officials are ill paid and under-trained, my complaint is more with Elections Ontario than this particular woman. Should those of us who cannot or choose not to obtain driver’s licenses be treated like second class citizens? Why, out of a long list of eligible documents, should I be asked to provide only one? This further entrenches the view that everyone ‘should’ have a license, and that something must be wrong with those who do not. Surely those of us who choose not to drive in the city should be lauded instead of harassed by banks and provincial governments. Next election I’ll be bringing the eligible i.d. list to the polls. On foot, of course.

Image from the CBC

Liza Badaloo keeps her driver's license mostly for kicks, and only occasionally for i.d.
[email this story] Posted by Liza Badaloo on 10/11 at 03:19 AM

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