By Harvey Oberfeld
October 13, 2015
Regardless of the outcome of the federal election, there should be an investigation by a Parliamentary committee into Elections Canada. And by the national media, political scientists, the political parties as well.
It won’t be good enough … or credible … to leave it to Elections Canada to do a post-election review of itself.
Something has not been right: Elections Canada from coast to coast was clearly unable to efficiently and effectively handle registration and the advance polling this election.
And I don’t believe it’s just because too many people showed up: turnout was 16% more than in 2011 … surely not a huge enough amount to warrant the delays/disasters we have witnessed this time around.
Also according to news reports, many rural and First Nations communities are not even identifiable by their Postal Codes on the Elections Canada website, so people there cannot verify if they are on the voters’ list or register to vote.
This all simply unacceptable.
There is no reason why ANYONE should have so many problems registering or have to wait in line, standing, for up to two hours to exercise their democratic right to vote. There have been too many reports of some just walking away … unable or unwilling to wait so long: in effect, being denied their right to vote because of what seem to be physical stamina pre-requisites.
Was Elections Canada unaware that Canada’s population has grown to more than 36 million, and thus, millions more potential voters? Was Elections Canada unaware that 30 new seats and constituencies has been added to Parliament? Was Elections Canada out of touch and unprepared for how much interest this election was generating … even several months before the vote was even called?
Or was Elections Canada hamstrung by budget cuts, or insufficient budget increases to handle all the growth in seats, eligible voter population and the number of polls and polling officials needed?
This last possibility is of particular concern to me …. because I have witnessed this happening DELIBERATELY before, in order to discourage people from actually voting.
Fortunately it was not in Canada … but in Florida, during the 2012 U.S. federal election:
From the Atlantic magazine: “Alarmed by the strong Democratic turnout in early voting in 2008, Republican lawmakers, including Governor Rick Scott, reduced the number of early voting days from 14 to eight.”
In this federal election in Canada, there were only FOUR advance voting days…all in a row? Why so few … all of them over a holiday weekend, when people do have other things to tend to … and with more than 26 MILLION eligible voters?
By the way, here’s a little secret (it’s a secret because Elections Canada has done a poor job of publicising this): if you missed the advance poll and will be unable to vote on Election Day, you CAN visit any Elections Canada office and cast your ballot there.
In Florida … the Republicans were also accused of deliberately reducing the number of polling locations and polling booths in Democrat-leaning, black and poorer areas, so that some had to wait SEVEN hours in line to vote. Many did … but frankly, I … despite being a political junkie … would never have done that.
I was thinking about that when I saw reports of so many people in some areas here too complaining about the lack of polls at each advance polling location. So they left.
Surely, in a country and at a time and when there is so much concern about dwindling voter turnouts, that is not acceptable. What’s the message all this sends to new voters, who … facing such a rigamarole … may never even bother to try to vote again.
We won’t know until Election Day whether the same shortfalls and inadequacies will be in effect Oct 19 and what impact that will have on the turnout (if radio reports LONG lines/waits) … or on the results: retired people may have extra time (if they bring their own chair!) but working people will surely be discouraged from showing up.
Elections Canada did drop the ballot box in the advance vote.
How and why that happened should be investigated …. so Canadians are informed exactly what was going on … and who was responsible.
And our democratic process is protected.
When it came to this election, it wasn’t a question if the Conservatives were going to cheat, it was when and how they were going to do it.
A friend tried to vote in the advance and the woman said “You are not on the list”, and he had his ID and VOTER CARD. She would NOT give him a ballot. His friend, a noted Broadcaster, stepped in and asked to see the sheet, politely and pointed out she was reading the wrong paper. he got his ballot.
I wonder how much we can trust this election? I can’t believe that I saying this about MY Country. It sounds like a Third World Country. Of course, the States had the Florida/hanging chads – so – we shall see. If we have a landslide win for the incumbent, there will be a furore. Just a gut feeling this is going to get ugly.
Election Canada is a “stand alone” entity, can’t see how the government can interfer.
Sounds like Reality Check leans a lot more left than many others … hmmm