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Union Gospel Mission hosts voting for Downtown Eastside residents

DTES residents overcome barriers this federal election as Union Gospel Mission helps the homeless cast a ballot, in addition to hosting polls and taking advantage of new federal identification requirements

 Vancouver, B.C.—When thieves stole Lora Corbett’s wallet they took more than her money. They also took her identification, meaning her chances of casting a ballot this election seemed slim to none.

Without ID and the possibility of voting…I feel like an outsider looking in,” says Corbett. “I feel like a nobody, like I don’t exist.”

After struggling with homelessness, Corbett knows all too well the challenges that come with living on the streets. Proper identification is hard to come by and even harder to maintain. With no photo ID and few options Corbett turned to Union Gospel Mission for help, where staff worked to ensure she had all the necessary paperwork to vote.

“It’s great, now I can be a person that matters down here,” says Corbett.  Adding she hopes her vote will help make the DTES a better place. “For me personally,” she says, “for my safety and my well-being down here.”

Lora is just one DTES resident UGM will help cast a ballot this election. Union Gospel Mission is also hosting polls on Election Day (October 19th) and taking advantage of new federal identification rules. This year, for the first time in a federal election, DTES residents will be able to use prescription pill bottles or inhalers as secondary ID, in the same way that a housed person could use a hydro or other bill as secondary ID.

“Voting is the right of every Canadian,” says UGM President Bill Mollard. “We’re thrilled new federal election ID rules allow more people to exercise that right and we are doing everything we can to ensure our guests have a voice.”

In addition to hosting poll locations, UGM is also working closely with Elections Canada to offer several DTES residents employment.  These temporary election workers, several of whom are graduates of UGM’s recovery programs, will help supervise polling stations at UGM.

“During the last provincial election we estimate that we helped an extra 200 people vote who likely wouldn’t have cast a ballot otherwise,” says Mollard. “We’re hoping to build on that success.”

ELECTION DAY DETAILS

Date:             Monday, October 19th
Time:            7am – 7pm
Where:        Maurice McElrea Place, 361 Heatley Street

ABOUT UNION GOSPEL MISSION

Union Gospel Mission has been feeding hope and changing lives of men, women, youth, and children for 75 years. Through its seven locations in Metro Vancouver and the city of Mission, UGM provides counselling, education, safe housing and alcohol and drug recovery to those struggling with poverty, homelessness and addiction. The heart of the mission is to demonstrate God’s transforming love, ease the burden of the most vulnerable, rebuild lives and offer dignity to those who feel cast aside. To learn more, visit www.ugm.ca.

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