Christian Conservative Christian "Independent"

I'm an evangelical Christian, member of the CPC, but presently & unjustly exiled to wander the political wilderness.
All opinions expressed here are solely my own.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Electoral Reform

FINALLY, is all I can say. The Tories have introduced proposed changes to the Elections Act... which all parties, at this point, have agreed to support.

I just hope that they give scruitineers back the ability to challenge voters, and to make a request to the DRO that the voter provide ID.

I live in a University town. At my poll during the last election, I am SURE that some voter fraud occured, but I had nothing to go on to prove it. One university aged voter came up to the table, used a bill to prove his proof of address, and then said "Who's the local Liberal candidate? I don't know, I'm from Toronto." The DRO wisely responded "The candidate's name and party is on the ballot." (maybe it had something to do with the fact that I was standing right there, but who knows...) "I'M FROM TORONTO"!?!?!?!?!? Then what the heck are you doing casting a ballot in MY riding? Why are you allowed to cast a ballot here, after you have just openly admitted that this is not your primary place of residence? Of course, he was allowed to vote... for the local Liberal, who eventually won the riding. There was nothing I could do to stop or challenge him. The poll I was at had a large number of University students, and had a much higher number of voters show up than the other polls I was monitoring... and had a significantly higher percentage of Liberal votes that all the other polls in the neighbourhood. Call me suspicious if you will, but something sure smelled funny that day...

I've said all along that I, as an election monitor, need the ability to ask that voters provide ID as proof of residence. Reason is that the MAJORITY of university voters still have their licenses and/or health cards registered to Mom and Dad's... mainly to get a break on car insurance. Well then, my dear student, you can't have it both ways! You are only eligiable, by law, to vote in your riding of PRIMARY RESIDENCE. So, is it back with Mom and Dad in Toronto, where your Liberal vote will make virtually no difference, or is it here in my town, where it will UNFAIRLY tip the balance in favour of the Liberal Party of Canada?

Forcing them to prove their place of residence would have a nice detering factor... get caught trying to vote in a riding that's not your primary residence, and you could get fined by Elections Canada... which would be a nice little reward for most activist students who try to unfairly usurp our democratic right to vote.

Basic premise of my post? STUDENTS SHOULD BE FORCED TO VOTE IN THEIR HOME RIDING, and should not be able to pick and choose where they cast their vote. Those who are of an activist mentality, of which there are MANY in this town, knowingly use that ability to "stop the regressive neo-cons!" as they put it... or, as I put it, unfairly tip the balance to a candidate that the majority of legitimate residents in this town didn't vote for.

Since none of the rest of us have that option of picking where we cast our ballot, nor should they. They can cast their vote for their home riding on any day after the writ has been dropped at the local Elections Canada office, or by mail, if need be.

I think each and every person in this country should make themselves aware of the issues and should vote... I would not ever want to be accused of trying to take away someone's right to vote. But changes need to be made, so here's hoping.


  • At Mon. Nov. 06, 12:21:00 p.m. EST, Blogger jeff davidson said…

    so very very weak. if students didn't typically shun the conservatives, i'm sure you'd have no problem allowing the u of guelph student body help elect a conservative in your riding.

  • At Mon. Nov. 06, 01:14:00 p.m. EST, Anonymous Anonymous said…


    Do you know that for a fact? Of course you don't.

    Brian in Calgary

  • At Mon. Nov. 06, 01:50:00 p.m. EST, Blogger Lord Kitchener's Own said…

    Students studying full time at University are allowed to vote either in the riding where they live, or in their "home" riding (presumably where their parents live). This is the law.

    You have no idea how many students are disenfranchised every year by ignorant poll workers who tell them they are not permitted to vote in the riding where they live, and must vote in their parents riding.

    You DO NOT have to vote in your parents' riding if you are attending university elsewhere in the country full-time. That's a lie, and I ALMOST wish you had been able to challenge this student, so the DRO would have set you straight. Sadly, many DRO's are equally ignorant, and you probably just would have ended up disenfranchising this poor student, who was voting properly as per Canadian law.

    Check out Elections Canada's FAQ for young voters, but the relevant passage is the following:

    "I am a student and away from home. How do I vote?

    A student who lives away from home and is eligible to vote can be registered to vote in his or her parents' electoral district. However, you are not obliged to vote where your family resides. Your place of ordinary residence may be the place that you have adopted as home while you are at school, and you may choose to register and vote in that riding.

    As a student, once you have chosen your electoral district, you may vote by regular ballot at the polls, or by mail, using the special ballot. Remember that if you want to vote by mail, you must register for the special ballot; forms are available from Elections Canada once an election is called."

    Not enough young people vote in this country, and a big reason is ignorant poll workers who tell them that even though they live, work, study and pay taxes in a particular riding, they must vote in their parents riding, as though they are not truly residents of the riding where they live, work, and pay taxes.

    I lived in Quebec for three years while attending McGill, and voted in more than one election as a resident of Quebec. I lived in Quebec, paid rent and taxes in Quebec, was employed in Quebec and studied there. By law, had I chosen to do so, as a student I could have voted in my parents' riding in Kitchener. However, the law explicitly states that for students living away from their parent's residence, the choice is theirs.

    Deride the law if you like, but please don't try to disenfranchise student voters in the mean time by challenging their legitimate right to cast a vote where they live, study and pay taxes, as per Canadian electoral law.

  • At Mon. Nov. 06, 01:59:00 p.m. EST, Blogger Mr Ed said…

    This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  • At Mon. Nov. 06, 02:14:00 p.m. EST, Blogger Mr Ed said…

    I recognize the point "Lord Kitchener's Own" raises and it's valid. But the problems with the current system didn't exist when the current laws were drafted, and the problems today go beyond the scope of the laws intent and issue of just student fraud and the lack of ability to challenge... There are a host of problems with the system including the inability to limit a person with a bit of ingenuity and the intent of dodging the system from voting more then once and even the limitations placed on the door to door enumerators being allowed to ask the simple question if the person is a legal Canadian Citizen let alone ask for them to prove it... the reason elections Canada gives is "you can't question their citezenship because it might upset them"... Half the people living in Vancouvers GVRD don't even understand the question... If it's upsetting then too bad, so sad, if you have a problem with that then move back where you came from.

    and I'm sorry, but lets be realistic... most new citizens are proud to be Canadians or they wouldn't have gone to the effort so I really don't think it's that upsetting for them to be asked... they'd probably even be glad to say they are new citizens...

    More interesting is the enumerators are helpless to remove a name without a death certificate... what about actual voters lists that contain tens of thousands of names of dead people in every election...names can't be removed off the list unless a family member or doctor provides the details... the list is not linked to any other system in Canada although you'd think they'd be able to use something as simple as the SIN number system...

    E.G. Say Doug dies between elections and he has no local family in the region... Tim moves into his appartment and in the next election Tim receives both Doug's and his registration cards... (In Vancouver, in the early ballot this time round, not one person asked to see my ID...) So, even though Doug is dead, Tim could vote for him...thereby doubling his votes value.

    Now add to that the average appartment lobby mail area, where Elections Canada cards literally pile up from people that move a few months or even years prior to an election and either choose not to vote or registar on voting day in their new area which they're allowed to do... How easy is it for someone to collect those and hand them over to someone else to go in and vote in an early ballot?

    These extra names on the list and added ballots account for why we have such a bad turn out year after year...there are probably names on the list of people no one can locate either becasuse they are dead, or have moved, or may have been married and changed their name, etc,...

    Given that most citizens in Canada have a SIN card by the time they reach the age to vote, wouldn't it make more sence to link the 2 systems and remove the dead or altered names. We could then potentially automate the system so we can all vote electronically if we want and also secure the fact that people can only vote once in one riding...

  • At Mon. Nov. 06, 02:27:00 p.m. EST, Blogger Lord Kitchener's Own said…

    Also, BTW, the Canadian Elections Act refers to place of "ordinary residence" not "primary residence". Though, how the place a student lives maybe four months of the year can be privileged over a place they live and work eight months a year is utterly beyond me. Under either the "primary residence" standard, or the actual "ordinary residence" standard, a student's home while studying counts just fine, thank you very much.

    Students take up "ordinary residence" in the cities where they study full-time every bit as much as anyone else who also lives there 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Forcing students to vote in their parents' riding makes about as much sense as forcing cottage owners to vote in the riding where their cottage is located. It's ludicrous.

    Sorry to harp on this, but many times during my 7 years in university I ran into ignorant poll workers trying to disenfranchise students by claiming they had to vote in their parents riding. As though living, working and paying taxes in their riding wasn't sufficient for them to vote there. Countless students are disenfranchised every year by this ignorance, and it really has to stop.

    That said, I do recognize the problem of potential actual electoral fraud, and something does need to be done about it (I've received voter cards in the mail for others before, and probably could have used them to vote twice if I were less honest). It's not a perfect analogy, but I liken the difficulty to the old adage of the presumption of innocence, and the burden of proof in criminal matters laying with the state. It's often said, better that 10 guilty men go free than one innocent man is jailed. Somewhat similarly, I'm more concerned about preventing legitimate voters from excercising their franchise, than allowing non-legitimate voters to vote. A balance needs to be struck, for certain, but having seen many students deprived of their legitimate rights in the past, I know for a fact that we need to tread carefully.

  • At Mon. Nov. 06, 03:15:00 p.m. EST, Blogger Griff said…

    I'd be more concerned about the so-called 'voting' of the elderly than of the youth. Having scrutineered myself, I've seen more than my share of suspicious activity. Specifically, elderly people who are quite obviously legally blind and experiencing the latter stages of dementia being escorted inside the voting booth by their adult sons and daughters, who are quite clearly voting on their behalf. These seniors really have no idea who they just voted for; in most cases, it's likely that they just gave their son/daughter a second vote. There is something wrong with a system where this sort of abuse can occur, and I hope that this sort of thing will be examined in the future.

  • At Mon. Nov. 06, 03:47:00 p.m. EST, Blogger Christian Conservative said…

    Hey LKO,

    You make some really good points... all of which I agree with.

    Like I said, students should be voting at their "ordinary" residence... sorry for use of the wrong term. My beef was with the students who made the choice to vote in my riding because they knew their "home" (parents) riding was a "safe" Liberal one... as per my "I'm from Toronto" voter. Bugs people like me, who will be living here long after they've graduated and moved on, that I'm be represented by someone that they chose, instead of the person that the majority of my long-term neighbours chose.

    As for "real" voter fraud, we had evidence of that here... amongst the other candidates camps. The campaign office we rented had actually been the campaign office of one of our rivals during the 2004 election... AND WE HAD VOTER CARDS FROM SOME OF THEIR KNOWN SUPPORTERS (who we knew lived outside the riding) SHOW UP ON OUR DOORSTEP! (yes, to a BUSINESS ADDRESS)

    We hung on to them just in case the margin was close... but as it wasn't, we didn't file a complaint. Who knows... they might yet make an apperance...

  • At Mon. Nov. 06, 03:52:00 p.m. EST, Blogger wayward son said…

    Voter turnout among people in their early 20's is extremely low as it is. Why not drive it lower through only allowing students to vote where their parents live? That should drop University and College voting to about 2%. Why not further disadvantage students who either wish, or have to, live away from their parents?

    When I was in College and University if the election was during the school year I voted in the riding I was living at in school, because that made sense and as a Canadian citizen over the age of 18 I had the right to vote. Period. I didn't change my driver's licence for one reason. Because as I student I lived somewhere for 8 months max, then moved home for 4 months, then lived in a different appartment my second school year etc. Plus residency left me moving for a couple months at a time. Changing my address on my licence would have been an unneccessary hassle and had nothing to do with insurance rates.

    If I had my way I would make it easier for students to vote and I would lower the voting age. Encouraging people to vote at a young age makes them more likely to vote in the future. If these young people are not likely to vote Conservative too bad. It is a democracy.

  • At Mon. Nov. 06, 04:11:00 p.m. EST, Blogger Christian Conservative said…

    Wayward... the Ontario Highway Traffic Act makes it an offence to have any other address on your license other than your "ordinary" place of residence. You have 7 days to make the change when you move.

    Again, my beef is with those who consider their "ordinary" residence to be with their parents, but who make the consicious choice to vote in their "student" riding because they know their "home" riding is a safe one for "their" party.

    So who do we choose to disenfranchise... the sly activist student, or the home-owner/taxpayer? (remembering that most students pay next to NOTHING in income taxes... and I say that as a recent student myself)

    All I'm saying is that the rules are too loose, and there ARE people out there who choose to take advantage of that.

    To come back to another thing that LKO pointed out, education of the DRO's is key as well... I've had my own run-ins with them as well. Most of them have been good though.

    I've been a poll clerk in the last two provincial elections, and I had a blast one time... when things were quiet, the DRO and I got to talking, and it turned out we were both Harris supporters... we spent the rest of the day making guesses on who the voters just voted for after they left. We were off on the numbers though... the PC's won our poll by a landslide, and we thought it was going to be tight between the LPO and the PC's. (that being 1999)

  • At Mon. Nov. 06, 04:41:00 p.m. EST, Blogger wayward son said…

    I support straight proportional representation at the federal level and a mixed system at the provincial level. In which case it wouldn't matter where the students vote.

    Not allowing a student to vote is disenfranchisement.

    Allowing a student who does not pay taxes to vote is hardly disenfranchising home-owners.

    Yes there are abuses, but those can be dealt with without making it harder for students to participate in the democratic process.

  • At Mon. Nov. 06, 05:08:00 p.m. EST, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    The Finally link at the top does not work. Can you please re-post it?

  • At Mon. Nov. 06, 06:27:00 p.m. EST, Blogger Christian Conservative said…

    Worked just fine when I tried it now... might have been down breifly.

    Here's where it points to, just in case...

  • At Tue. Nov. 07, 01:15:00 p.m. EST, Blogger bv905 said…

    Perhaps a utility bill should not be allowed as a proof of address. Anyone can have a bill delivered to an address or a PO box for that matter. As long as the bill is paid, the utility companies don't really care where the bill goes.

    If the only acceptable forms of ID would be a health card, driver's license or property tax bill it would solve this problem instantly. Yes, it is a hassle to change your address everytime you move but thats just too bad. For a student to vote they can vote by mail or travel back to the address on thier ID.

    I would tend to agree...if you don't actually live there permanently (like a student) then you shouldn't vote there.

  • At Tue. Nov. 07, 01:25:00 p.m. EST, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I could agree with a form of proportional representation if a couple of concerns were addressed:

    1) There should be a minimun level of voting support before a party is given any representation in Parliament (Germany, I believe, requires a party to get at least 5% of the vote). Else, we'll be too much like the Italian or Israeli parliaments where small, fringe parties have an influence all out of proportion to their support, and government would tend to be TOO unstable.

    2) There should be some meaningful way that ordinary party members have some control over who become candidates for their parties. Otherwise, party leaders will have even more influence over the elected members that they do now, which I think is already too much.

    Brian in Calgary


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