moved for leave to introduce Bill C-543, An Act to amend the Canada Elections Act (voting hours).
Mr. Speaker, I rise to introduce a bill to improve the accessibility of our voting system and to promote the ability of all British Columbians to exercise their democratic rights.
My bill would change the voting hours in British Columbia for a general election. Currently the polls are open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. My bill would set the hours at 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. This would bring B.C. closer in line with other provinces where voting is open until 8:30 or even 9:30 p.m.
There are many working families in my riding. There are many single parents. Many people work long hours at multiple jobs to feed their families. Closing the polls at 7 p.m. prevents many of these people from voting. Everyone in this House has experienced election day. We know that voting places are always busiest in the hours after work. In British Columbia, where the polls close at 7 p.m., there are long lineups. Many people cannot make it in time and those who do are often discouraged by the lines and leave without casting a ballot.
With voter turnout declining in the last several elections, I believe it is the responsibility of politicians to make sure that the voting system is designed to be accessible to everyone.
This bill is simple. It is reasonable. It would not cost one penny and it addresses a very real problem in our community. I hope the government will realize the importance of this proposal and work with all members of the House to make it a reality.
(Motions deemed adopted, bill read the first time and printed)