10 types of voters you see as a poll worker

Voter turnout in the 2019 Federal Election was approximately 66%

By Nicole Doucette
Nicole Doucette is a Research Assistant with the SFU Morris J. Wosk Centre for Dialogue's Strengthening Canadian Democracy initiative and a Masters student in the School of Public Policy at Simon Fraser University. 
November 04, 2019

Voting: the most basic, but arguably the most important, task of democracy. Almost 18 million Canadians chose to cast their vote in the federal election last month. Did you know another 230,000 Canadians across Canada were hired as poll workers for advance polling and election day? I was one of them, and after four elections as a poll worker in various positions, I’ve noticed that there seem to be 10 types of voters who are always sure to show up.

1. The Prepared Voter

This is the most common type of voter, probably 90% of those who come to vote.

They are:

  • Registered to vote
  • Have their Voter Registration Card
  • Have up-to-date ID out and ready

Plus, they know who exactly they are voting for and are in and out in minutes (if there's no line).

2. The Impatient Voter

No one likes to wait in line, but some people REALLY do not like it. They can be seen noticeably grumbling while they wait, checking the time, audibly sighing and, once in a while, yelling at us poll workers or other people in line – not fun.

Somehow, by the time this person makes it to the front of the line, they tend to complicate the situation (not a Prepared Voter) because they forgot their ID or moved or have turned up in the wrong electoral district, which unfortunately slows things down even further.

Sorry friend, sometimes you’ve got to wait it out - we’re doing our best! Try voting in the middle of the afternoon during the advance polls to dodge the lines.

3. The Stoked Voter

This is often a first-time voter, or someone just really feeling their democratic self – a politics/democracy nerd who is stoked to vote (this is always me). They are extremely excited for this notably unexciting – but important – process and often give the signature fist pump and triumphant statement, “Yay democracy!” as they cast their ballot.

4. The Extra Chatty Voter

It’s a long day as a poll worker, and as a chatty person myself, I am happy for friendly company. However, there is the friendly voter, and then there is the Extra Chatty Voter who only wants to talk partisan opinions. As poll workers, we of course must be completely objective and not express any political opinion (and I am pretty sure these people know that) but these individuals certainly like to try to get a political rise out of us.

Typically, it’s a case of the Extra Chatty Voter expressing strong enthusiasm or disdain for a candidate/party/leader in the form of questions to us, and we get to awkwardly deadpan stare at the paper in front of us and busy ourselves with paperwork in an effort to not acknowledge the comments. We’re happy to chat about the weather, but save the politics talk for Thanksgiving with the family.

5. The I-don’t-know-what-to-bring-but-I-really-want-to-vote Voter

These spirited voters are keen to vote but have no idea what identification they are meant to bring, so when in doubt, bring it all! I have had multiple voters dump a handful of documents including their hydro bill, car insurance, passport, birth certificate and any other mail they can find with their address on it. Hey, it all works, so better over-prepare than under-prepare!

6. The Millennial Voter

They are ready to break stereotypes by actually voting (yay!) and are ready for the photo opp. No, you cannot take a picture of your ballot, it’s a secret, remember? Instead, I recommend you get that photo with the yellow sign outside the voting station.

For me, my thought process embracing my Millennium Voter self was: "Okay, I did the thing everyone says people my age don’t do, now where is my proof???" I need an 'I voted' sticker not just to prove I did it, but also to do my civic duty of putting a picture on the ‘gram and getting my peers to follow in my noble footsteps.

Thank you Instagram and Facebook for coming through with the alternative vote tagging – but actually, Elections Canada, where was my sticker this year???

7. The ‘Why isn’t Justin Trudeau [or insert other party leader name] on my ballot?’ Voter

Also known as the “Civics 101 Lesson.” Often some overlap with The Millennial Voter (sorry not sorry to peers); this voter does not actually know how our parliamentary system works and is confused by the unfamiliar local names on their ballot as opposed to the notable party leaders.

Lucky for them, I am armed with a Bachelors of Arts in Political Science that I am always searching for opportunities to use and will gladly explain the nuances of our parliamentary system to an unaware voter.

In case you need a refresher, we do not vote directly for a Prime Minister in Canada, instead we vote for local Members of Parliament (MPs). The candidate in each riding who earns the most votes becomes the MP for that electoral district. The leader of the party with the most MPs elected becomes the Prime Minister – well if they have the majority of seats. In minority and coalition situations it can be a little more complicated… YouTube that information my millennial friends!

8. The Pet-Friendly Voter

My favourite kind of voter, the voter who brings a furry friend with them. In some locations, only service animals are let in, but I have seen a delightful number of voters bring their furry companions along while they do their civic duty. Dogs are the most common and the best in general (in my correct opinion), which I will take the time to pet, when professionally appropriate of course. I have, however, also seen a person vote with their cat and another with their hedgehog in the palm of their hand!

9. The Nostalgic Voter

These voters often have stories to share about how voting used to be different, the changes in the ID requirements and other things that have changed. The fun twist I experienced this election while working the Advanced Polls in an old community hall was hearing stories inspired by past experiences voters had had in the space over 60 years ago. I heard of community dances, wild parties and other events as they reminisced in the room.

10. The Candidate

The rarest of voters, this voter is one of the actual candidates in the riding. I have not ever knowingly served a candidate, but I have heard with high profile candidates (party leaders in particular), it can be quite exciting. The media is on stand-by ready for the photo opp (they aren’t allowed in the polling station of course) but the candidates will usually get a snap of them putting their ballot in the box. (We are pretty sure we know who they are voting for).

You just voted (I hope), which one were you and who will you be next time?

The views and opinions expressed in the Strengthening Canadian Democracy initiative blogs are those of the authors; they do not necessarily reflect the official position of Simon Fraser University or SFU's Morris J. Wosk Centre for Dialogue, or any other affiliated institutions in any way.