Two Critical Flaws In Our Electoral System That Need Addressing

I was fully intending to put together a list of recommendations for Elections Canada after my experience working for them on Election Day. But this made me speed up the process.

I worked as an Information Officer, which meant my role was to provide information to the voters, but in my role, I got to watch a lot of the proceedings from a unique vantage point of having to deal with almost every voter as they walked in the door.

My 2 Critical Situations of Concern

1) I had a gentlemen come up with three Voter Registration Cards. All had the slightest difference in his name so he was showing up in the system 3 times. i.e. he could have changed his look a bit, and come in three times to vote. I told him the Registration Officer would be glad to help him with a correction form, and he said he had done that twice before. I was told this a few times by different people with issues or wrong names or wrong middle names, etc. It is obvious that the correction forms are not being processed or not being processed correctly.

As a recommendation for an easy ‘mass fix’, Elections Canada should cross reference the electoral list by name vs. a Social Insurance Number (SIN) and have all irregularities or duplications investigated and cleaned up. WHERE someone lives is not an issue. But making sure the official list of electors is accurate would be high priority to me, as I hope it would be to many.

2) Proof of Citizenship is a major concern I have. In Sections 3 and 4 of the Canada Elections Act it states:

Persons qualified as electors

3. Every person who is a Canadian citizen and is 18 years of age or older on polling day is qualified as an elector.

Disentitlement from voting

4. The following persons are not entitled to vote at an election:

(a) the Chief Electoral Officer;

(b) the Assistant Chief Electoral Officer; and

(c) every person who is imprisoned in a correctional institution serving a sentence of two years or more.

In my DRO (Deputy Returning Officer) Training, we were given a handbook to keep. It is entitled Ordinary Poll Election – A Manual For Deputy Returning Officers and Poll Clerks. In this handbook on page 5-12 it lists the types of identification required to register as a voter. The list is broken out into three columns to outline which documents contain a) name, current home address and signature, or b) name and current home address, and c) names and signatures. You need one item from column a) or one from each of the b) and c) columns which together provide all the required information.

There are a few items listed which would qualify as proof of citizenship, yet nowhere is it indicated that proof of citizenship is required. This is a critical point. Hypothetically, ANYone could walk in with a drivers license; or a health card and phone bill; or a credit card and blank personalized cheque; and get registered.

I find this a gross example of an exploitable guideline. Continuing from the recommendation in 1) above, you could take the cleaned up list, and run it against the Citizenship list I am sure the government has somewhere. Anyone who uses excel can probably figure out an easy way to do it. Any names not on the citizenship should be stricken.

Taking this one step further, from now on, when someone goes to register they should have to show proof of citizenship. A passport; or citizenship card; or a birth certificate/photo ID combination would help minimize the risk of non citizen’s voting.

Some may think these are pretty harsh suggestions, but how can we go around the world telling other nations what democracy is and scritinize their elections (as we did for the Ukrainian elections) when we have such fatal flaws in our own system?

I am open to criticism on these suggestions in the comments below.

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