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Corner Brook man upset his identification wasn’t accepted at polling station

Pat Callahan didn’t get to vote at the Elks Club in Corner Brook on Tuesday because one of the pieces of identification he brought to the polling station was not accepted.
Pat Callahan didn’t get to vote at the Elks Club in Corner Brook on Tuesday because one of the pieces of identification he brought to the polling station was not accepted. - Diane Crocker

Pat Callahan, 71, refused because he has a British Columbia driver's licence

CORNER BROOK, N.L. —

From the time he was able, Pat Callahan has voted in every election there’s been, except for today’s. 

Callahan, 71, had lived in British Columbia for 20 years before returning home to Corner Brook a year ago.

He was supposed to vote in the race for the Long Range Mountains at the Elks Club on the west side of the city, but said he was refused his right to vote because of his identification.

Callahan brought a bank statement, which has his current address on it, and his driver’s licence to the polling station, but was told the licence was not acceptable.

“They refused me because I had a B.C. driver’s licence.”

He hadn’t had a chance to get the licence changed and plans to do it next week when he gets the car he recently bought registered.

“Jesus, I’m not there to get a God damn bank loan or something." — Pat Callahan

Callahan waited at the polling station while three Elections Canada workers discussed the situation. He said people were coming and going, the line was getting longer, and the people he had gotten a ride to vote with were outside waiting.

“And they were still discussing it and were going to bring a fourth person in,” he said.

“Jesus, I’m not there to get a God damn bank loan or something,” he said, apologizing for his angry words.

“I don’t understand it,” said Callahan, who ran for the Tories twice provincially in this area in 1998 and 1999.

“I needed two IDs,” he said, adding that he gave that to them and felt the driver’s licence should have been recognized.

He got so upset waiting that he said “forget it” and walked out the door.

“I’m just so poisoned and there’s no need of it. It’s so stupid. Half the people in the room knew me,” he said.

According to Elections Canada that doesn’t matter.

“When you go to the polls you have to prove your address and your identity,” said Françcoise Enguehard, regional media adviser for Elections Canada in the Atlantic region.

“When you go to the polls you have to prove your address and your identity." — Françcoise Enguehard

One way to do that is to produce two pieces of identification — both have to have the person’s name on them and one has to have a name and address.

Enguehard said the bank statement would have met that requirement, but because the driver’s licence had a different address it was not admissible.

“We make every effort to make sure that we tell people that there are lots of ID that they can use,” said Enguehard.

The Elections Canada website has a list that includes a credit card, a health card, government ID, passport or birth certificate. E-statements or e-invoices are also accepted and can be shown on a mobile device. 

Callahan said he wasn’t told he could produce another piece of identification and be able to vote, but says he wouldn’t have gone back anyway. 

Twitter: WS_DianeCrocker

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