Battleground BC
Pill bottle ID debuts at BC advance polls

David Young, 45, Downtown Eastside resident originally from Manitoba, uses a doctors prescription at a advance polling station at Union Gospel Mission

Credits: CARMINE MARINELLI/QMI AGENCY

TYLER ORTON | QMI AGENCY

VANCOUVER -- Carrying a prescription bottle label and an aboriginal status card in his pocket, David Young arrived Wednesday at an advanced polling station in Vancouver's Downtown Eastside to vote for the first time since moving to B.C. eight years ago.

The opening of advance polling also marked a first for Elections BC, which now allows voters to use pill bottles as secondary identification when casting ballots.

Although Young, 44, admitted he showed up to vote at the Union Gospel Mission on East Hastings and Heatley merely on a whim, he said the ability to use the label made the process far easier.

"It's really good, because there are a lot of people from around this area who have no IDs," Young said.

"To get IDs from the ministry (of health) is like pulling teeth."

Elections BC spokesman Don Main said there's little difference between prescription medication containers and other pieces of secondary ID that have long been used at polling stations.

"It's like a hospital bracelet - it actually has your name and birth date on it," he said.

"In order to get a prescription, it has to be printed by PharmaCare. A government agency is actually approving the printing of that."

Derek Weiss, Union Gospel Mission manager of community engagement, said he was delighted by the "steady rush of people" who came out to cast their ballots at the polling station ahead of Tuesday's provincial vote.

He said one person who arrived rushed back to their home to grab a pill bottle after hearing it would be accepted as secondary ID.

"We know it's actually working and that's really exciting."

Weiss added his organization also had lineups spilling out of their doors last month after targeting low-income and homeless people during a voter registration drive.

"When you level the playing field so that they have the same opportunity as someone who has an address, then they'll respond," he said.

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