Voters in ridings across Canada reported confusion at the ballot box on Monday, with many attributing the issues to the Fair Elections Act, a controversial bill that ushered in many changes to the electoral process, from campaign finance to voter identification.
"Canadians shouldn't have to be experts in electoral law to cast a ballot," said Josh Paterson, the executive director of the B.C. Civil Liberties Association.
The group intervened in an ongoing case against the bill that sought to have its provisions suspended for this election. That argument was turned down in July, but a full court challenge will be heard after the voting.
"We're stuck with it for today, and hoping to get changes for next time around," said Mr. Paterson, who himself was asked for unnecessary ID when he voted at the advance polls.
The bill was criticized for raising limits on campaign spending, prohibiting Elections Canada from mobilizing voters and tightening voter-identification requirements. Critics said aboriginals, students and homeless voters were likely to face increased difficulties in casting a ballot as a result.
Voting campaigns across the country have been focusing on more-difficult-to-reach voters for months.
In northwestern Ontario, a First Nations Rock the Vote campaign began in May, one of several across the country, including in Winnipeg and Saskatchewan.
On Monday, volunteers in the area were offering rides back home to people who did not bring the right identification to polling stations.
"In the North, gas is a very high commodity, so having people offering their cars is a huge thing. Some people are returning to the polling stations; my fear is that people will say 'forget it,'" said Tania Cameron, the organizer of First Nations Rock the Vote.
Aboriginal voters living on reserves do not have a civic address with a street name and number, one of the demands made in the Fair Elections Act, so the Assembly of First Nations prepared letters confirming residence for those who want to vote, said a spokesperson for the Assembly.
It's an approach used by universities, as well. Still, university voters have been plagued by other problems. Some waited weeks for special mail-in ballots that allow them to vote in their home riding. Today, some were told it was too late to count the ballots, said Semra Sevi, who organized the student vote at Cégep de St. Jérôme, outside of Montreal.
The confusion was not restricted to those groups, however. In one Halifax riding, Ashley Baker was told her driver's licence was not sufficient.
"They said they would accept anything with my name on it. I had my Costco card and that was fine," she said. Ms. Baker later realized both requests were mistakes: A points card is not one of the acceptable documents.
Other voters were misdirected.
Alex Dagg, a voter in the Toronto riding of Toronto-St. Paul said she and her daughter received two cards with different addresses, so she assumed that the most recent one, which she said told her to vote at the nearby Balmoral Club, was the one she should trust.
But after showing up there, she learned she should actually vote at the address on the first location.
"We're pretty motivated voters, so we made an effort to vote," said Ms. Dagg. "But if there was an elderly person or someone voting right near the end [of the polling hours], they might not have made it."
With reports from Kathryn Blaze Baum and Selena Ross