Voting and Racism
Voting and Racism
[Image] An Asian man and a Caucasian woman both looking at voting cards.
[Caption] During the last federal election, my roommate and I wanted to vote.
Asian Man: Hmmm…we’re not registered though…
Caucasian Woman: It says it doesn’t matter. We just need a driver’s license with our address.
[Image] The Asian man and Caucasian woman waiting in line.
[Caption] Election Day
[Image] The Caucasian woman standing in front of a table, behind which is seated an elections officer. In the background is a Caucasian man. The Caucasian woman is holding out a form of ID.
Caucasian Woman: I’m not registered, but here’s my license.
[Image] The Caucasian woman still in front of the election officer, and smiling. The Caucasian man is still in the background.
Election officer: Ok looks good, sign here. And here’s your ballot.
[Image] The Asian man approaches the elections officer, holding out some ID. The Caucasian man is still in the background, but is looking at the interaction and frowning.
Asian Man: Hi, I’m in the same boat as her. Here’s my license.
[Image] The Asian man is signing documents in front of the elections officer. The Caucasian man has moved to the foreground and holds out his hand as if to stop the Asian man and elections officer. He is still frowning.
Elections officer: Ok, so sign here…
Caucasian Man: Hold on
[Image] The Caucasian man points at the Asian man and addresses the elections officer. The Asian man looks concerned, and the Caucasian man looks angry.
Caucasian Man: I’d like to challenge his citizenship
[Image] The Asian man stands with his arms crossed, looking at the Caucasian man. The Caucasian man also has his arms crossed, looking away from the Asian Man. The Elections officer looks irritated, and faces the Caucasian man.
Elections Officer: You can’t do that, he has all the required documents.
Caucasian Man: Oh…..well, nevermind.
[Caption] I had the same address and procedure as my roommate. The difference was that I was not white. In one fell swoop the scrutineer reminded me of white privilege. Needless to say, I did not vote for his party that day. And I probably never will.
During the last Federal election in Canada, my roommate and I decided to go vote. As proud citizens, it wasn’t our first time voting, but it was the first time we were voting in this province. It meant that we weren’t registered yet, and so we had to look up what we needed to do.
The instructions on the website were pretty straight forward. As long as I had a current driver’s license with my address, I would be able to vote without registering. We decided using our license would be the easiest option, so we lined up on Election Day to vote.
My roommate was right in front of me in the line, and she was able to vote without any problems. When it was my turn though, the Conservative Party scrutineer lurched forward and interrupted the elections official helping me.
“I’d like to challenge his citizenship” the scrutineer said.
The elections official dismissed him pretty quickly, and did not seem impressed. The scrutineer responded angrily,
“That’s all he needs?”
He didn’t try to hide his disappointment. Nor did he bother looking at me or attempt to apologize.
It was clear that he doubted my citizenship because I’m not white. My roommate went right before me, and he didn’t say a word. It felt horrible to be reminded of white privilege when I was trying to vote.
I went to go vote in my country, and I was basically told by someone who represents the ruling party that “real” Canadians were white. Needless to say, I did not vote for his party that day. And I probably never will.