As we’ve seen this year in Guelph, the spectre of the robocall scandal has not been too far from many residents minds. In fact, as we get closer to the October 19 vote, many Canadians are starting to wonder more and more if whether or not they’ll be able to cast their ballot fairly and without political or malicious interference. If you’ve been feeling that way, don’t worry, you’re not alone.
Back in August, the Ottawa Citizen ran a story about a group called the Organization for Security and Economic Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) who are planning on coming to Canada next month to monitor our election out of concern that the Fair Electiosn Act will prevent a large number of Canadian citizens from being able to cast their ballot. After a fact-finding mission in May, OSCE, in which Canada is a member, decided that it would dispatch a 10-person team in time for the vote on October 19.
“Because there were questions and concerns from some corners over the nature of the changes that had been made, and a little bit of wonder of what those changes would actually mean in practice, this then calls for some type of observation to look at exactly this question,” said Thomas Rymer, a spokesman for the OSCE.
OSCE isn’t the only organization that’s been reached out to for elections monitoring in Canada next month. Several online petitions exist demanding the election monitors from the U.N. be sent to Canada to observe the vote, though its unlikely the U.N. will make such a move. Another organization concerned about dirty tricks on October 19, Elections Canada.
Meanwhile, an article posted by the Canadian Press Monday revealed that Elections Canada had a presentation called “An Introduction to Emerging Trends and Threats in Electoral Operations,” prepared in May 2014 in order to get staff ready for “advanced voter suppression techniques” that have been used in the United States and may be creeping into other western democracies. The Canadian Press was able to see the full presentation through an Access to Information request.
“It’s important for us to identify potential risks in order to be prepared to detect and respond to incidents that may occur, including incidents that could compromise the integrity of the election,” said Elections Canada spokesman John Enright.
So what did Elections Canada learn from all their research? Basically that there are four stages to voter suppression:
- Identify non-supporters;
- Gather information on them;
- Prevent them from going to the polls through scare tactics, misinformation or systematic challenging of registrations;
- If electors get to the polls, prevent them from voting by contesting eligibility or identification, and through intimidation.
Potential voter suppression was also on the mind of Green Party leader Elizabeth May when she was here in Guelph last week to announce her party’s education and youth employment policy. When asked about the importance of youth voting, May said its important that everyone with the vote get out and use it and then offered a warning…
If you are the victim of an attempt at voter suppression, receive any misleading robocalls or have your rights as an elector in some way infringed upon this election, feel free to reach out to us by e-mailing me at adamadonaldson [at] gmail [dot] com, or by posting to Facebook, or our Twitter page.