With the City election being tomorrow, the City of Vancouver has sent out voting cards to Downtown Eastside residents, informing them that their voting station is Carnegie Centre. Trouble is, a large percentage of neighbourhood residents are banned from entering Carnegie Centre. These bans have been instigated by City staff running Carnegie Centre or Capilano University staff running the Carnegie Learning Centre, and are jointly enforced.
When Carnegie and Capilano ban people, they are well aware that they are creating a barrier to voting. Carnegie is a standard polling station, for all elections: civic, provincial, and federal.
A man banned from Carnegie said he talked to a security staffer last week and was told that they were not allowing banned people into the building on election day. That's a lot of people, when you consider that they have banned hundreds of people a year from Carnegie, usually for freedom of expression, totaling thousands of people by now. Many never go through the often humiliating process of having their barring overturned. Many don't know there is such a process.
Even if security personnel were instructed to back off for a few minutes while a banned person entered the building to vote, many banned people are uncomfortable going back to Carnegie as they were often verbally or physically abused or humiliated during the process. One woman told me that she left the building trembling the night a security guard assaulted her; he was angry that she had been making waves about the undemocratic banning process so he banned her. "When I got my voting card and it said I had to go to Carnegie to vote, I started getting flashbacks," she told me.
And what about the guy who was banned after being thrown to the ground by three security staffers, including the head of security, because he verbally protested when they blocked him from returning his books to the Carnegie public library in a tiny pull cart. Do you really think he wants to return to cast a vote?