By Kelly Anne Smith
NIPISSING FIRST NATION – Chief Scott McLeod’s patience with Elections Canada is wearing thin.
For weeks now, people who live on Nipissing First Nation reserve land are having trouble registering to vote.
The October 19th federal election will be the first time since 2004 people from Nipissing First Nation can vote together. In the past , Nipissing First Nation was united within the “Nipissing” electoral district up until 2003. When it became the “Nipissing-Timiskaming” riding, it was split in half for the 2004 election.
First, Nipissing First Nation communications officer, Geneviève Couchie, couldn’t register to vote. She kept receiving an error message on the website. Nipissing-Timiskaming Returning Officer Jim Mallory of Elections Canada has told Couchie that the problem may lie with the postal code and would be fixed promptly. That hasn’t exactly been the case.
After about two weeks, Couchie was able to register with the aid of a representative from Ottawa.
Now, after trying and failing eight times to register to vote, Chief McLeod is frustrated. His says Nipissing First Nation shouldn’t be going through all of this to vote. “The bigger issue is that it is a roadblock for people. It seems like we are not being given the attention to details as non-native communities.”
The Chief said that if it had been the City of North Bay that was divided into two electoral districts, it would have be given full attention and straightened out long ago. “If the Mayor of North Bay couldn’t register online to vote, I’m sure it would be fixed. It always seems to happen to First Nations.”
Chief McLeod has deep concerns. “Our riding has been deemed an important riding in deciding the elections outcome. It is ironic that it is difficult to cast votes with us openly opposing the politics of the Conservatives.”
Nipissing First Nation is taking the proactive approach and planning information sessions for people to work around the current glitches of registering with Elections Canada on their website.