'I felt so embarrassed': North Vancouver woman feels singled out because of her race at polling station
Published Monday, October 26, 2020 8:06AM PDT Last Updated Tuesday, October 27, 2020 2:47PM PDT
VANCOUVER -- Like many, Pauline Barlow had been looking forward to voting in Saturday's provincial election for weeks.
“I came to the polling station vibrantly trying to get my voice heard,” she said.
The way she describes it, her enthusiasm was completely crushed at the voter booth at North Vancouver’s Brooksbank Elementary School.
“I felt so embarrassed, I was like 'why did I have to go through that?’” she said.
Barlow said she was singled from everyone she was in line with and told more than once by officials at the polling station to confirm her eligibility by reading a list of requirements out loud.
Something she says no one else around her was asked to do.
"Of course the first thing I could think was that they saw that it is a Black couple here and maybe we were the only ones in the hall,” she described.
She believes she was treated differently and fears it may have been because of her skin colour.
Barlow also explained she’s been eligible to vote in British Columbia for seven years.
With an election being called during a pandemic, Elections BC took on the monumental task of managing polling stations so people can vote in person.
To keep voters and staff safe, a lot of procedures had to be changed from years past — including how voters declare eligibility
“In the past a voter would sign the voting book to state that they were eligible to vote, in this case they are making a verbal declaration and the official is noting that for them,” explained Andrew Watson, Communications Director for Elections BC.
All voters were supposed to be asked to read and confirm a list of voting requirements.
“I didn't have a problem reading that,” argued Barlow.
“It was just how it was told to me. It was the body language."
Barlow said she will send Elections BC a complaint in hopes of an explanation.
Meanwhile Elections BC responded to her case in a statement to CTV.
“We are sorry to hear this voter felt singled out and felt they did not have a right to be at the voting place,” Watson said.
“The verbal declaration process in place this election was a legitimate requirement, and should have been administered to all voters.”
Barlow did end up voting on Saturday and she said she plans to vote again.
She decided to share here story to highlight what she said “is some systematic racism that needs to be worked on in B.C.”
“I am one of those who live in North Vancouver,” Barlow added.
“I call myself a North Vancouverite."