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Another US Republican tactic imported by our Cons – vote suppression

Some interesting developments at the University of Guelph – my old alma mater. Colour me not surprised to first see this:

Today, while in the middle of voting, there was a big disruption at the polling station. As I was sealing my envelope to place into the ballot box, a guy came up making a huge scene stating that this polling station was illegal and tried to grab for the ballot box.

…[I]t was confirmed that the guy claiming that the polling station was illegal was Michael Sona who is in fact a part of the Guelph Campus Conservatives. The other individual was wearing a blue zip up jacket/sweater, and I do not know his name.

..and then read this followup story in the Guelph Mercury:

No votes cast Wednesday in a special ballot at the University of Guelph should stand, according to the Conservative Party of Canada. The party wrote Elections Canada on Thursday to request that none of the votes collected during the U of G session be included in the final tally of votes in the Guelph riding. In his letter, Hamilton alleges the polling station was illegal and also that partisan election material was present at it, which is a violation of the Canada Elections Act.

..Elections Canada media advisor James Hale said this was the third election during which the University of Guelph held a special ballot on campus. And this is the first time it’s ever been challenged, Hale said. “Part of our mandate is making the vote as accessible as possible. So, we look at outreach programs,” Hale said.
Hale said special ballot polling stations are often held for groups of people who consistently display less-than-average voter turnouts, such as students, First Nations, seniors and the disabled.

“It’s never been challenged, not to my knowledge,” Hale said. However, it was Wednesday and then again Thursday by the Conservatives.

Vote turnout is around 37% for ages 18-24 in elections, and the vast majority of them are not inclined to vote Conservative. Add in Harper throwing out university students and groups attending or attempting to attend his rallies, and the fact that Guelph is a potential “swing” riding, and you can see why the Conservatives are attempting to get these votes invalidated.

It’s no surprise to me, but it’s still outrageous. Perhaps Rick Mercer needs to do another rant about this as a followup to his challenge to the young people of Canada to get out and vote. Hopefully, with or without his help, the youth of Canada are paying attention to how fearful Harper and the Conservatives are of their voting patterns that they would go to the extent they are going – and to act (and vote) accordingly.

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12 comments to Another US Republican tactic imported by our Cons – vote suppression

  • kwittet

    So somehow Scott and the liberals have tied this one individuals actions to the republicans in the US and the whole PC party.
    So typical here.
    I am in no way defending him or anyone but the posts i see above are really sad.

    • Beerbob

      It’s the behaviour of RWAs. These are the people who tend to worship autocratic type leaders. It is not associated with any particular country. It’s just that they look to the south on the right for their style of politics and the way they want to shape our country, even with the evident failures there. Prime Minister Harper used to be president of the National Citizens’ Coalition, an organization that is extremely secretive about its funding, particularly as to which country it comes from. Even if you are a member, there is no way that you can see where the money comes from. Don’t take my word for it, try to find out for yourself. The so-called “hidden agenda” isn’t hidden. Go to http://nationalcitizens.ca/ and it’s all laid out for you. Join and send them ten bucks and ask about their sources of funding.

      “So somehow Scott and the liberals have tied this one individuals actions to the republicans in the US and the whole PC party.
      So typical here.
      I am in no way defending him or anyone but the posts i see above are really sad.”

      As a bit of an aside, could you please describe who it is that you are in no way defending? If you’re going to post responses, be clear.

      If you are just hoping that we should all be nice here, you have no idea what is at stake. I notice that you use the term “PC” in describing the Conservative Party of Canada. The PC party, or the Progressive Conservative Party of Canada, died years ago. I miss it. There were people in it that I had respect for, even if I did not agree with them. It is no longer your dad’s conservative party. The new party is now a mixture of religious evangelicals and libertarians.

      So, before you pass judgement on other’s opinions, do a bit of work yourself. Things have changed in the past decade amongst Canadian conservatives. And not for the better.

  • Andrea Micieli

    Please sign this petition: http://www.petitionbuzz.com/petitions/firemichaelsona
    A person who pushes an Elections Canada volunteer an attempts to grab a ballot box away from a polling station should not be employed by a Minister of the Crown.

  • Derek

    “In light of the focus on youth and student electoral participation at the 41st general election, and on efforts to increase voter interest and turnout among this group, a well-intentioned returning officer undertook a special initiative to create an opportunity for students at the University of Guelph to vote by special ballot.

    Once Elections Canada officials were made aware of the local initiative in Guelph, the returning officer was instructed not to engage in any further activities of a similar nature. All returning officers have received this instruction.

    While the initiative at the University of Guelph was not pre-authorized by the Chief Electoral Officer, the Canada Elections Act provides that electors may apply for and vote by special ballot. A special ballot coordinator, appointed by the local returning officer, oversaw the activities at the University of Guelph. All information at our disposal indicates that the votes were cast in a manner that respects the Canada Elections Act and are valid.

    Vote. Shape your world.

    Elections Canada is an independent body set up by Parliament.”

    I think we can safely assume that this is settled then

  • Derek

    Yeah, it certainly appears that the issue of Elections Canada not being aware of the event lie in the conversation that Arthur Hamilton is supposed to have had with Pierre Boutet where Boutet claims he was not “aware” of the event, though if we looked at how many polling stations are spread out across the country, it doesn’t seem to be all that surprising that he may not have been appraised of every single special ballot location/event going on across the country, even though the likelihood of an unsanctioned event having access to verifiable Elections Canada-stamped documents,labels, ballots, etc. is highly dubious. Moreso, given that there were Elections Canada officers on hand to observe. Hamilton’s letter also suggests that Boutet may have made a presumption before the fact that the votes would be nullified, though I doubt the validity of Hamilton’s claim that he did so, as it would mean that Boutet would be drawing conclusions about the validity of votes, over the phone, to party lawyers, and you know basically deciding which votes count on a whim or heresy. I’d also like to know what position Pierre Boutet occupies in the office of the Electoral Office of Canada as it is not clear who he is exactly.

    I think the Elections Canada statement that is supposed to come out some time today should (hopefully) clear up Boutet’s side of the conversation with Hamilton, and any claim the CPC is making about unlawful voter activity (as though it’s really all that surprising they’d resort to this)

    and here it is:
    http://www.elections.ca/content.aspx?section=med&document=apr1511&dir=pre&lang=e

  • Part of the problem may be a confusion of terms. This was not an Advance Poll, but a venue to deposit Special Ballots, no different than if the 7 00 or so Guelph students walked across town to cast said ballots at the local Elections Canada office. I have more here.

  • It seems that knowledge of this special ballot was extensive enough that 700 students lined up to vote. It was apparently an official Elections Canada event, all in accordance with this legislation:

    http://www.elections.ca/content.aspx?section=res&dir=loi/fel/cea&document=part11&lang=e

    It was part of a well publicized drive to get students to vote.

    Conservatives need to stop it with the Rovian assaults on democracy and the hypocritical bitching and whining.

  • ridenrain

    “Elections Canada confirmed that no advance poll or other form of polling had been sanctioned for any location at the University of Guelph. Besides not being sanctioned, many of the controls that must be in place at a polling station did not exist,” Conservative spokesman Ryan Sparrow wrote in an email.

    http://www.canada.com/news/Tories+claim+university+polling+station+illegal/4618608/story.html

    • Jon Pertwee

      Ryan Sparrow, need I say more. Why should I believe anything he says?

      Try finding proof of your side that isnt opinion, Ryan Sparrow or a letter from the Tory lawyer. It was an Elections Canada sanctioned event that had happened in the previous three elections without complaint.

      Now why dont you have a problem with the Conservative candidate’s communication director making a grab for the ballot box? Still having those ethical problems Ridofbrain?

      Seriously, you need some help if that’s your concept of right and wrong.

  • Jon Pertwee

    From the Guelph Mercury

    “Elections Canada media advisor James Hale said this was the third election during which the University of Guelph held a special ballot on campus. And this is the first time it’s ever been challenged, Hale said.”

    Elections Canada Ridofbrain! Why arent you concerned about a Tory candidate attempting to grab a ballot box? I guess you are more concerned about a Tory win than democratic freedom.

    Way to go Ridofbrain! Way to let down Canada.

  • ridenrain

    Partisan ballot box stuffing isn’t a triumph for democracy.
    It’s how elections are stolen.

    • Beerbob

      Way to keep it real, dude. I suppose the person that tried to grab the ballot box thought he was some kind of hero of democracy. I mean he might have actually thought he was doing the right thing, rather than leaving it to Elections Canada, you know, the people who supervised the polling station. That big box with an Elections Canada seal on it.

      Looking to our neighbours to the south, and various other places that right wingers control – elections are not stolen by stuffing ballot boxes. Since the structure of a right wing polity leadership is based on Right-Wing-Authoritarians with a high Social Dominance Index, and the followers (that’s you, by the way) are subordinate authoritarian types, the bosses can pretty much count on the base to turn out. Since the actual percentage of registered voters who vote for the cons is somewhere in the low to mid twenties, pretty much all of whom can be counted on to show up, the way to a win is to discourage every other group not to vote.

      The sheer stupidity of Sona making an undemocratic and arrogant ass of himself is virually guaranteed to double the student turnout, not the result he was hoping for. But, stupid is as stupid does, as the wise man said.

      Recommended reading: http://home.cc.umanitoba.ca/~altemey/

      It’s a free download. It’s a book, by Bob Altemyer, an overview of his work on authoritarianism. Very accessible. A real page turner. Unlike the drivel that comes out of various right-wing think tanks, it’s actually peer reviewed.

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