Monday, February 10, 2014

The Fair Elections Action Plan

What problems are the Conservatives really trying to solve with bizarre Fair Elections Act?wrote Andrew Coyne in an excellent column two days ago.
I'd like to pillage that model and expand on it a bit.

Problem : Investigation into election fraud in 2011 Election 33 months ago being rushed along at dangerous breakneck speeds.

Fair Elections Act Solutions
1) Deny Elections Commissioner authority to compel documents and witness testimony (with individual authorizations from the courts)  - a power nonetheless already enjoyed by elections chiefs in most provinces : Yukon, Alberta, Manitoba, Ontario, Quebec, Nova Scotia, and New Brunswick. 
Chief Electoral Officer Marc Mayrand on CBC's The House yesterday :
"Many people refused to talk to the commissioner even if they were not suspects. I'm afraid to say this is happening more and more in files investigated by the commissioner."
2) The Del Mastro clause. Require Elections Canada to inform subjects they are being investigated while preventing EC from telling the public about it.

Problem : Public trust in fair elections in Canada at all time high.

Fair Elections Act solutions
1) Governing party rewrites election law while being investigating by Elections Canada for election fraud.
2) Don't consult with Chief Electoral Officer before tabling major overhaul of Elections Act.
3) Deny Elections Canada commissioner access to parties' and riding associations' financial documentation to support claims made on their financial returns. 
4) Forbid Elections Canada from communicating with public. Mayrand :
"Most reports and research will no longer be public - not only not available but probably won't be done at all. 
I can no longer speak about democracy in this country except where and when to vote. I am not aware of any other electoral bodies around the world who cannot talk about democracy."   
then cut off debate about the bill in the HoC, sending it to PROC with its 6 out of 10 Con committee members.

Problem :  Serially violate election law successfully but then lose court battles to election watchdog.

Solution : Neutralize watchdog by moving entire elections enforcement apparatus from current independent office answerable to Parliament to inside Peter MacKay's ministry.

Problem : Too many people vote - 61% in the last federal election - especially aboriginals, young people, old people, and poor people.

1) Forbid Elections Canada from encouraging voting, including terminating the mock elections model currently being taught to 300,000 Canadian students.
2) Voter suppression. Kill off vouching *** - the provision allowing an elector to prove their residence in a riding by having someone they know in the riding who is registered to vote sign a legal document.  Marc Mayrand on CBC's The House again :
"Every Canadian has the right to vote. That's a universal franchise. Vouching is meant to assist people facing challenges. We estimate that in the last election a little over 100,000 electors required vouching before they could cast a ballot. What will happen to those electors in the next election?"
Neufeld Compliance Review, commissioned by Elections Canada :
"The audit estimated that “irregularities” occurred for 1.3 percent of all cases of Election Day voting during the 2011 federal election."
and of those irregularities, "0.4 percent of ballots had irregularities due to vouching - of which the vast majority were cases of misfiled paperwork, not misidentified voters."

Problem : Parties not spending enough time and money on elections 

1) Bump allowable individual contribution limit up by 25% with yearly increases to follow.
2) Bump party spending limits directed at new members up by 5% ($22-million).
3) Permit parties to exclude from declaring as a campaign expenditure any communication with electors as long as it's done with an elector that has contributed before in the previous five years and that it includes a call for additional money.
Mayrand : "20 to 25% of total expenditure goes to GOTV"

Problem : Incumbents don't have enough advantage over new candidates.
Solution :  See Solution #3 above.

Problem : Not enough Pierre Poutine robocalls are being made during elections.
Solution : Ditto

Problem : Not allowed to campaign on Election Day 
Solution : Ditto

***On a personal note, I have often relied on vouching in order to vote in my riding, despite having voted in every election I have been in the country for since I came of age to do so. I have a voter ID card, a Canadian passport, a Canadian citizenship card, a BC health care card, and a deed to the house in my riding which has been my only residence for decades. None of these have my address on them, including, according to Elections Canada, the deed to my house because it lists a rural RR# address they no longer recognize. I pay all my bills online or through my credit union. 

Just get a driver's licence says the harried DRO every time. 
Why? says I. Driving a car is not a requirement of citizenship.
h/t Beijing York for Mayrand interview - highly recommended. 


Greg said...

Buy trying to force you to buy a drivers license, the government is attempting to bring in a poll tax, in everything but name.

Rural said...

A very good and concise outline of some of the problems with this Allison. Given the number of electors that had difficulty establishing their identity at one particular rural advanced poll last time around the rural addressing problem is far from settled according to one poll clerk who dealt with such issues.

double nickel said...

Rex Murphy seems to like it, so there's that.

Owen Gray said...

If Canadians still can't figure out who these people are, we are deep, deep trouble.

Anonymous said...

Thanks, Alison, for your consistent good work! Taking your "problems" and posting them with a link in a regina mom post today.

Anonymous said...

For all the people that support Herr Harper? They are going to get, absolutely everything they wished for.

Harper would not dare to use his, robo-call election fraud again. Harper stunk to high heaven on that fraud.

Fair election act, my @$$

West End Bob said...

I'll loan you my driver's license if it would help, M'Lady . . . .

Anonymous said...

"What problems are the Conservatives really trying to solve with bizarre Fair Elections Act?"

The Conservatives are simply trying to solve the problems with the possibility of their own re-election. That is the only realistic way to view the 'Fair Elections Act'. I'm just stating the obvious.

scotty on denman said...

I've always said: the only reason to switch to online voting from our multi-phased voter identification, hand-counted (and re-countable), under open&fair partisan-scrutinized paper-ballot system---the cadillac of voting systems---is to cheat.

I'm extending that sentiment to Harper's bogus electoral reform bill.

The only reason to cheat is to dispense with having to win popularity---and not having an ethical bone in the whole Conservative body.

lagatta à montréal said...

It also shows the ideological function of driving and driving licences in carcentric, capitalist society. I've never owned or driven a car in my life, and I'm very proud of that fact, though of course I realize that this is only possible in an urban area with good public transport, or somewhere I could walk and cycle year round. I've been an activist for walkable and cyclable cities for decades.

Yes, this is a deeply antidemocratic reform.

That old Tory Diefenbaker is rolling a bit in his grave right now.

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