Canadian actor fears he may not be able to vote while on musical tour in U.S.

Windsor, Ont. actor Sean Sennett says he feels discouraged that he may not be able to vote in this year’s federal election.

Sennett is one of 34 Canadians touring with We Will Rock You in the U.S. who applied to vote by mail weeks ago, but are still waiting to be approved by Elections Canada.

“It just leaves us on the sidelines,” said Sennett, who previously voted in the 2015 federal election.

Eligible electors living or travelling abroad, like Sennett, can apply to vote by special ballot, which requires approval from Elections Canada.

Once approved, Canada’s elections agency sends voters a confirmation email and also mails out a special ballet voting kit.

The whole process takes a variable amount of time, according to Elections Canada.

Sennett said none of the Canadians on tour with him have received confirmation that their applications have been approved.

Raynah Bourne is a production assistant with ‘We Will Rock You.’ (Sean Sennett)

And since the group tours with a travelling show, they have no private addresses to receive their kits.

Instead, they provided Elections Canada with the address for the Microsoft Theatre in Los Angeles — where We Will Rock You played last week — hoping that two and a half weeks would be enough time to receive the kits.

Despite these measures, the kits have yet to arrive, something that Canadian production assistant Raynah Bourne finds alarming. 

Bourne said she’s been on the phone with Elections Canada every day for several weeks, adding that the elections agency is still processing their applications, despite Canadian crew members having submitted online applications by Sept. 27.

“We’re kind of in this limbo period. We’re all very keen and wanting to vote,” said Bourne. “Before they can send the ballots out, they have to approve the applications, so everything is backlogged on their end.”

Kevin Doe, a Toronto high school teacher currently touring with the show, added that many of his crew members are “young and are impassioned about current issues.”

“I would hope that Elections Canada would want 34 impassioned people to have the ability to vote,” he added.

Kevin Doe, a high school teacher and an actor, says he wants to have the ability to vote at this year’s federal election. (Sean Sennett)

Bourne said she’s voted in every election she could, adding that this election is “huge.”

“I don’t want to feel like I could have made a difference, but I couldn’t because I didn’t have the ability to do it,” Bourne said.

Sennett agreed, adding that he wonders if others have experienced something similar.

“It just leads to this discouragement in voting. If you weren’t able to do it the first time, you’re probably not going to be doing it the second time,” he said.

“It makes me really sad, because how do we make our voices heard?” Bourne said.

“Everybody matters. No matter if you’re one person or you’re 34 people trying to vote, that is what democracy is … That’s why it’s so important, especially in a Canadian election, for us to exercise that right because not everywhere has that.”

Diane Benson, a spokesperson for Elections Canada, urges eligible voters to apply early, allowing enough time for a special ballot voting kit to be mailed and returned to Ottawa by election day.

“One of the challenges that people can have when they are voting by mail is that there are some timelines that we’re not always in control of,” Benson said, adding that it takes time to process applications and mail voting kits.

According to Benson, there are several opportunities for Canadian electors to vote early in the election, including on-campus polls and advanced polls, but as those deadlines pass, the only option left is to vote in-person on election day in the riding where you live.