Building Poilievre’s Electoral Fraud in the Sky

Pierre Poilievre, champion of free and open elections, wants you to know that the Conservative Government is battling electoral fraudsters.  When asked whether his bill — The Fair Elections Act — would actually drive down voter turnout, Poilievre rejected that idea absolutely.

“When someone lies about their identity or residence in order to vote illegally, they are stealing or cancelling out another person’s vote,” Poilievre told the House during Question Period.  “That is an attack on honest Canadians who are trying to have a legitimate influence within our voting system.  Some identification methods have a significant rate of error, and we will eliminate these methods in order to protect the integrity of the vote.”

What he’s talking about are two of the most contentious things in the bill — the end of the use of ‘vouching’ (one elector signing an oath that another voter, who is not on the electoral rolls, is in fact a valid voter) and the axing of voter information cards as a quasi-valid piece of ID.

That’s interesting. Why, Pierre?

“The reality is that vouching is not safe; it is not secure.  After The Fair Elections Act is passed, it will not be allowed,” he said.

He has statistics, too!  25 per cent of those who vouched in 2011 had “irregularities,” he said.  They have to stop that.

Poilieve’s statistics are actually wrong.  In 2011, according to an Elections Canada audit, in 42 per cent of cases where voters needed to be vouched for, there were irregularities.  That’s about 45,000 irregularities of the 120,000 vouchings that occurred.  Wow!  So much electoral fraud.

But wait, what’s an irregularity?

For 90 per cent of those cases, the irregularity was a minimal one — it was a circumstance where the voucher also did not appear on the electoral list (but they still would have to prove that they live in the riding.)  In about 10 per cent of the cases, the voucher did not live in the same polling division as the voter.  And then in about 0.007 per cent of the cases, a voucher tried to vouch for more than one voter.

Poilievre’s 25 per cent comes from another (ostensibly, overlapping) statistic.  It’s the percentage of vouchings, according to the audit, “where the voter also needed to have their ID and/or address vouched for where the tick box [on the registration form] confirming that vouching was required was not checked.”

So of those “irregularities” that Poilievre keeps bringing up — technicalities, and unchecked boxes.  Be afraid.  Be very afraid.

If these rules were in place prior to the 2011 election, 120,000 voters would have been turned away from voting.  That’s a problem.



If Harper was serious about Senate reform, we would have new laws in place today: Senator Brazeau

Trudeau’s ill-considered Senate bombshell

Vacant senate seats breaking Confederation’s promises


And what of the voter information card?

It’s that red-and-white card mailed to you to confirm that you, are, indeed on the list.  This card was never valid ID for a voter, although many believe it is.  Returning officers, though, had the ability to bend the rules to admit voters using that card.  Given the number of people who tried to use it, Elections Canada tried a trial run in the November 2010 by-elections, and then expanded it to thousands of voting locations for the 2011 campaign.  Here’s what it found:

“From the limited data returned as of July 18, 2011, the proportion of electors who used their VIC with another authorized piece of identification (e.g. hospital bracelet) to cast their vote in seniors’ residences and long-term care facilities was about 73 percent.  In targeted polling sites on Aboriginal reserves, the proportion of electors who used their VIC with another authorized piece of identification (e.g. Certificate of Indian Status) was 36 percent.  Of the small number of students able to take advantage of the initiative, 62 percent used the VIC.  The initiative made the voter identification process run more smoothly and reduced the need to ask the responsible authorities for letters of attestation of residence.”


But after this bill passes, that will be killed.  No more letting Betty from the room at the end of the cancer ward go down with her voter information card and her hospital bracelet.  No more letting First Nations employ their status cards as a second piece, alongside the red-and-white card.


Poilievre hasn’t explained that to us yet.

Brad Butt, MP for Mississauga–Streetsville, made an attempt during the debate.  He told the House that he’s seen campaign workers scoop up piles of voter information cards and hand them out to dummy voters, and then take them all to the polls.

Well, unless Brad Butt is a superspy, and was stalking those campaign workers (or, unless it was his campaign that was doing it) that’s entirely absurd and made up.

You still need a second piece of ID to use those voter information cards — it’s benefit is that it serves as proof of address (for voters with outdated ID) and it serves as a corroborative second piece for voters who do not have photo identification.  It has not been, nor can it be, the sole piece of identification for a voter.

The government should get props for expanding the list of useable IDs, but they’ve utterly failed to explain why these two charges are necessary.


Other columns by Justin Ling

To Charte, or not to Charte?

Harper and the liberal journalists of Sparks Street

Harper’s Israeli Rorschach Test

Follow Justin Ling on twitter: @Justin_Ling


Share this article

18 Responses to “Building Poilievre’s Electoral Fraud in the Sky”

  1. I would like to know the reason behind banning Elections Canada from running get out the vote advertising. It may not be terribly effective (are we sure?), but what harm can it possibly do? “Fair Elections Act” – if this is motivated by partisan grievances it will be anything but.

  2. Golden Girl

    This is a great article, thanks so much for talking about irregularities at the polls. Election fraud is not a big problem in Canada. There are many checks and balances in the system, so if there are ever judicial recounts, when the vote count is close, it’s very easy to go back to see what happened. The checks include recording names in the poll book, having a voters list, scrutineers at the polls from beginning to end including the count, having numbered ballots…all this ensures free, fair and safe elections in Canada. The change being proposed to muzzle the Chief Electoral Officer is unbelievable in a modern democracy, and Canadians should be outraged. The CEOs job is to travel the country, educate the public, and engage them in their democracy. Many people don’t want to talk to politicians, and so Elections Canada does this work of education and engagement. Eliminating the vouching mechanism will disenfranchise voters whose right to vote is protected by section 3 of the charter, so if this goes ahead there will be a challenge. This interview with the CEO Mayrand is very powerful, every Canadian should listen to it.

    There is a campaign to call all MPs on Monday to demand that this bill not be passed until there is widespread consultation.

    • RepentSinnerTheEndIsNigh

      The Harper Government has a parliamentary majority. Which MP’s are you targeting ? The opposition will vote against it, so there is no point talking to them. Conservative MP’s will not disobey Harper and Pierre Poilievre can continue to do what his master orders in the hope that someday he will become a real cabinet minister.

  3. RepentSinnerTheEndIsNigh

    Democracy? How about having the polls open for several days ? This bill is only concerned with preventing non-Conservatives from voting and changing the definition of ‘cheating’ so Harper won’t have to worry about being accused of that the next time.


Add your comments: