Proposed Elections Law Raises Very Serious Democratic Concerns

Before reading the post below I recommend you have a look at this common sense older article that points out a very serious flaw and complete avoidance of common sense that created our common law, commonwealth country.

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Corrupt Canadian Elections (Vote Fixing)

This is how we lost Canada..and this how we are going to lose our freedoms.

Canadian Truther 150px text Also see.

For more articles, opinions & discussion,  visit the CCLA Rights Watch blog.

“The freedom of no one is safe unless the freedom of everyone is safe.”


Elections Act changes drop Canada from lofty status: Electoral scholars
EmbassyThe government’s Fair Elections Act, Bill C-23, will hurt Canada’s reputation as a leader in fair elections, say electoral scholars from Canada and abroad.  

Dropping the failsafe voucher provision, whereby voters can vouch for citizens without up-to-date identification, would harm Canada’s reputation as one of the most inclusive and trustworthy systems in the world, said Tova Wang, a Brussels-based senior fellow at Demos, a New-York-based pro-democracy NGO.


“It’s particularly depressing that it’s happening in Canada,” she said in a phone interview. 

Read below CCLA’s concerns with the Fair Elections Act, and our submissions regarding Bill C-23 to the House of Commons Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs.

Review of foreign voting systems shows that proving one’s address is a common issue around the world.

CoC Photo
Council of Canadians activist Norah Chaloner on March 27 in Guelph.

Peter Mazereeuw
Published: Wednesday, 04/16/2014 12:00 am EDT
Last Updated: Wednesday, 04/16/2014 12:17 am EDT

The government’s Fair Elections Act, Bill C-23, will hurt Canada’s reputation as a leader in fair elections, say electoral scholars from Canada and abroad.
Dropping the failsafe voucher provision, whereby voters can vouch for citizens without up-to-date identification, would harm Canada’s reputation as one of the most inclusive and trustworthy systems in the world, said Tova Wang, a Brussels-based senior fellow at Demos, a New-York-based pro-democracy NGO.
“It’s particularly depressing that it’s happening in Canada,” she said in a phone interview.
Elections Canada has been “held up as an ideal” around the world due to its professionalism and integrity, she said.
“Under international treaties that Canada has signed, the obligation is really to try and facilitate the right to vote, not to make it unnecessarily difficult. If there’s some justification for that, that’s one thing, but without it, it would not seem to be an appropriate measure,” she said.
Dropping the voucher is a “solution in search of a problem,” as there is no evidence of widespread voter fraud in Canada, she said.
The bill’s failure to provide an alternative, such as allowing voters to sign an affidavit swearing to their identity—as is done in some jurisdictions in the United States and provinces in Canada—calls into question the motive behind introducing the bill, she added.
“It’s sort of the like they’re taking the worst of the conservative playbook in the US and taking it to Canada,” she said.
“We are at the forefront and we want to remain at the forefront,” of electoral systems in the world, said Jean-Pierre Kingsley, the former Elections Canada chief electoral officer, in a phone interview.

A system all to its own

Canada’s electoral system is already somewhat of an exception to international norms, said electoral scholars.
Many countries around the world differ from Canada, in that they require voters to actively register themselves onto voter lists, whereas Elections Canada maintains a voter list without requiring citizens to get involved, and registers new voters at polling stations on election day.
Elections Canada does ask Canadians to provide updates on name or address changes when it mails out its voter information cards.
Many, if not most, countries issue a special identification card to voters after they register with electoral authorities.
Depending on the country, those IDs typically contain a voter’s name, address, photo, area code, polling station, and sometimes even fingerprints and signature, Mr. Kingsley said.
Mexico brought in an advanced voter ID card, which includes a photo of the voter, their date of birth, where they reside and where they should vote, in 1992 after widespread fraud during an election in that country in 1988, said Enrique Bravo Escobar, a consultant for electoral issues and PhD student at Georgetown University, in a phone interview.
Many European and Latin American countries have similar systems, said Ms. Wang. Government-issued voter IDs are also common in Africa, said Denis Kadima, the executive director of the Electoral Institute for Sustainable Democracy in Africa, in a phone interview.
Canada issues voter information cards—which contain a voter’s basic information and polling station—before elections, and in 2011 ran a pilot project in which groups of Canadians who typically don’t have up-to-date ID could use them to vote. Bill C-23 would ban such use of the cards in the future.
The proposed requirement in C-23 to have up-to-date ID, particularly regarding a voter’s address, without a failsafe is at the heart of the problem, said Mr. Kingsley, echoing testimony by Canada current chief electoral officer, Marc Mayrand, in front of the Senate Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs last month.
“The notion that all Canadians have in their possession documents establishing not only their identity, but also their current residential address, is simply wrong and not borne out by experience,” he said.
“With the rapidly aging population, this is increasingly true of seniors. They tend to be less mobile, have more difficulty with the voter identification requirements, particularly the requirement to prove their address,” he said.
The committee released a report April 15 recommending nine changes to the bill, which would address some of the objections raised by Mr. Mayrand and others who testified in front of the committee. Maintaining the voucher system was not among the recommendations.
Electoral fraud in Canada has not been a problem, Mr. Kingsley said, and it would be nearly impossible to change an election result by exploiting the voucher system.
If the rules around vouching are enforced, an individual can only vouch for one other voter. As a result, any organized fraudulent voting involving the voucher system would require enlisting the aid of a new individual to vouch for every fraudulent vote, he said—doing so on a large scale without being discovered would be extremely difficult.
Vouching is “very common during the registration process, and it is also allowed in several countries during the actual voting process” wrote Stina Larserud, an electoral scholar at Stockholm’s International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance, in an email.
Vouching or similar failsafe systems are common in many Latin American and African countries in particular, said Mr. Kadima and Ms. Wang. Most US states also allow vouching or the swearing of an affidavit as failsafe measures, according to information provided by Elections Canada spokesperson Diane Benson.
A number of African countries require multiple individuals to vouch for a voter who doesn’t have proper identification during the registration process, said Mr. Kadima. Afterwards, the voter is issued an ID to take to the polling station.
Several African countries are experimenting with using biometric systems to identify voters at polling stations, including Mali, Ghana, Kenya, and the Central African Republic, said Mr. Kadima. The results have been mixed; proof of address is still required when voters register, in order to ensure they vote in the district in which they reside. The biometric machines also sometimes break down on election day, he said.

Proving address a universal problem

While Canada’s reputation as an election leader may lose its luster with the passage of C-23, barring major amendments, Canada will join much of the rest of the world in requiring proof of current address at some stage in the voting process, the scholars said.
Government issued voter ID cards often include an address, as many countries require voters to vote in the district in which they reside, said Ms. Wang and Mr. Kadima.
In these cases, voters must keep the address on the ID up to date.
Mexico’s registration system can only be updated up to a few months prior to the election, and voters who move to a new district after that time will not be able to vote there, said Mr. Bravo Escobar.
Combining Canada’s election-day registration with Mexico’s advanced voter ID would make for a “perfect” system, said Mr. Kingsley.
Australia, as well as nearly all states in the United States, either don’t require proof of address, or allow vouching or a similar failsafe to prove it, according to Elections Canada. The United Kingdom, aside from Northern Ireland, also does not require proof of identity, though the UK Electoral Commission is working to change that.
India and New Zealand issue voter ID cards that include a voter’s address, according to Elections Canada.
The Senate Legal and Constitutional Affairs committee recommended in its report that voters be allowed to use certain electronic documents to prove their address, in addition to current provisions that allow the use of mail, leases and other paper documents.
Ultimately, the ease with which voters can update their information and the speed with which they are issued new identity documents makes a significant impact on how many voters are prevented from casting a ballot, said Ms. Wang.
The difficulty with which Canadians can update valid forms of voter ID varies between forms of ID and provincial issuing agencies. For those who can access an up-to-date piece of mail or find a copy of their lease, it may be relatively easy; for those who reside in long-term care facilities or have no fixed address, it many not be as straightforward.

Constitutional right to vote

Under Canada’s Constitution Act, 1982, “Every citizen of Canada has the right to vote in an election of members of the House of Commons or of a legislative assembly and to be qualified for membership therein.” There are no qualifications or conditions on this right in the constitution.
However, there are many barriers in practice to run in a federal election, said Nelson Wiseman, a political science professor at the University of Toronto, who also testified in front of the Senate committee.
Candidates in federal elections must appoint an eligible auditor, obtain a nomination paper, and go through several other steps before they can participate, according to the Elections Canada website.
“Rights aren’t absolute, they come with conditions,” Mr. Wiseman said in a phone interview.
“You want to vote, get your address updated.”
Mr. Wiseman suggested the government compel administrators in long-term care facilities and other institutions in which citizens without up-to-date ID typically reside to provide those citizens with a letter proving their address and identity.
Section 81 of the Canada Elections Act compels many of the same administrators to allow election canvassers to access their residents.
The Senate committee report recommended something similar, specifically that C-23 be amended to “include a requirement that attestations of name and address should be given to those who seek it (the elderly, homeless, Aboriginal peoples, etc.).”

Five Unfair Things About The Fair Elections Act

The Huffington Post: The Fair Elections Act (Bill C-23) is as devastating to democracy as Vic Toew’s Bill C-30. While Bill C-30 raised considerable public debate and even got the group Anonymous involved, it appears that the Fair Elections Act hasn’t raised the same ire. Maybe it’s because the Conservatives have focused public attention on vouching.
If Canadians were educated with the same intensity about the other parts of Bill C-23, maybe we’d get the reaction we saw with Bill C-30. The Fair Elections Act, when you examine all its parts, is designed to fix the next election so the ruling party who are the Conservatives win.
That is not fair or democratic for 2015 or any future elections.
Read (below) CCLA’s concerns regarding the Fair Elections Act.


Proposed Elections Law Raises Serious Democratic Concerns

February 21st, 2014
On February 4, 2014, the Canadian government introduced Bill C-23 in Parliament. The Bill, also known as the Fair Elections Act, would substantially amend the Canada Elections Act – the law that spells out in great detail how to exercise the right to vote, how elections are administered, how campaigns may fundraise and spend, and what constitutes an election offence.
The Bill addresses a variety of topics, but perhaps most concerning is a change it would make to the identification requirements for citizens to vote.
The Bill would remove the option of proving your identity by having another elector vouch for you. This method was used by over 100,000 voters in the last federal election, and although it was subject to some irregularities at that time (in that some election officers didn’t properly apply the correct rules) there is no evidence that it is a process that results in fraud or allows some to vote who are not eligible.
According to the Chief Electoral Officer, young persons, seniors and Aboriginal persons are most likely to be affected by the elimination of vouching as a means of identification.
The proposal to remove vouching and to disallow the use of a voter identification card is of serious concern to CCLA. The right to vote lies at the very core of our democracy and is protected in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
Time and time again our courts have commented on the fundamental character of the right to vote. It helps to provide citizens with a voice in how their country is governed and is the basis of the government’s legitimacy.
If our election rules are not properly enforced or followed, we should address that. But disenfranchising eligible voters is NOT the answer.
CCLA is strongly opposed to any change in the law that would erect barriers to exercising the right to vote, particularly if those barriers will impact on groups that are already disadvantaged or face hurdles in accessing their rights.
The Fair Elections Act has been through second reading in the House of Commons and is now before the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs.
CCLA will be asking to appear before the Committee and strongly encourages the government to engage in widespread consultations on the Bill.
It has been suggested by some that cross-country hearings should take place and CCLA agrees that, given the impact of the Bill on the right to vote, the Committee should engage in a process that would involve as many Canadians as possible from around the country.
There are a number of other provisions of the Fair Elections Act that CCLA will be examining to consider their impact on the right to vote, democratic legitimacy, and freedom of expression. Check our website for more on the Bill in the coming weeks and months.
If you are concerned about the right to vote and the impact of the Fair Elections Act, write to your MP or consider making a submission to the Committee.

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