Fair Elections Act assures Elections Canada ‘a longer reach and freer hand’
– Harper Government

By Erin Drushel

[avatar user=”ErinDrushel” size=”thumbnail” align=”left”]Erin Drushel[/avatar]

Both Canada and the United States are currently tackling the issue of requiring voter identification at the polls.  In the U.S. it’s currently on a state by state basis, while in Canada it’s a part of the proposed Fair Elections Act.  Many articles in the press report that this requirement will adversely affect the poor, and further to in America some go as far as to call this a racist policy.

To begin with, I do have some major problems with the so-called Fair Elections Act in Canada, but in my opinion, requiring voter ID is not one of them.  This may be a somewhat controversial opinion – especially to those who know my politics – but I frankly think it’s a good idea for the sake of the electoral integrity in both countries.  My only problem with requiring ID would be with too severely restricting the forms allowed, and based on what I’ve read this shouldn’t be too much of an issue in Canada.

In this day and age not having an identifier of some sort is rare, and there appear to be a number of workarounds to help ensure those that are eligible can vote.  So frankly, unless your approach to Election Day is picking people up off the streets and packing them into a van to go vote, I just don’t see the problem.  But maybe I’m missing something.

What’s more disturbing are the reported complaints about voter ID implementation.  “Well, you already have to wait in line and this is going to make the lines even longer”…so, really what you’re saying is you’re too lazy to exert your democratic right.  Folks, that’s not a valid argument against voter ID.  In Canada we have teeny-tiny little ballots about the size of a post card with (typically) one box to tick, versus in the U.S. where there are sometimes pages upon pages with a multitude of boxes to tick, and a hell of a lot more people standing in line waiting.

And as to fears about “sharing personal financial information”, unless the poll worker is wearing Google Glass and recording as they go, I’m sure they don’t care.  And if you’re that worried about it, tape some paper over the parts you don’t want seen.  Sheesh!

In short, people are fussing about the wrong thing.  In Canada right now the voter ID issue should be the least of the public’s concerns, whereas the blatant attack on the Chief Electoral Officer should be of paramount concern.

There’s a reason we have arm’s length agencies and commissions: to help remove undue – or the appearance of – undue government influence.  More bluntly put, to keep political parties’ grubby little, self-serving hands out.

The autonomy of Elections Canada is vital to a transparent democracy.

And at a time where the Conservative government’s electoral integrity has been continually called into question, it’s no wonder they want to silence the Chief Electoral Officer.  Another one of Prime Minister Harper’s “do as I say, not as I do” rules for democracy.

Anyone who can’t see the important role that Elections Canada plays in educating the public about voting – over putting that task in the hands of political parties – are just being downright and willfully stupid.

Nobody trusts the government nowadays, so why would anyone be okay with political parties being responsible for that?  They’d only educate those whom they believe would vote for them, whereas Elections Canada educates everyone.

What’s next?  Taking election information out of the school curriculums because teachers aren’t “the right” (pun intended) people to be educating students on the topic?  The current legislation is just that absurd.

In short, if you insist on being concerned about voter ID, fine.  But if that’s all you’re worried about, then Canada’s electoral system is in worse trouble than I originally thought.

–Erin Drushel

1 Comment

  1. treebeard April 20, 2014at9:26 pm

    I take no issue with your comments about the misnamed Fair Elections Act, another stunt our dictatorially-minded have picked up from south of 49 to try to limit possible opposition voters in the exercise of their franchise.

    I take substantial issue with your casual treatment of voter ID – especially given the plan to have the poll officials appointed by the majority party. Too many people don’t have it and can’t get it.

    Take the young – just finished school, still living with parents, unable to find a job. Couldn’t buy a car even if they wanted one, so no driver’s licence. No SIN card because the government doesn’t issue them any more. What, upon challenge by a hostile scrutineer, do they produce to prove they are of voting age, citizens, and residents of that particular poll?

    What about an immigrant woman, perhaps widowed, doesn’t drive, can’t find proof of citizenship or residence? What about senior, in a care residence, no longer travels so no passport, no longer drives so no licence, no utility or similar bills to prove residence? Not to mention students studying away from home, aboriginals, the very poor, and on and on. You might even say the major part of a demographic unlikely to vote Tory and likely to be challenged.

    Identification doesn’t matter? With respect, this is likely the most damaging part of this Orwellian bill.