Friday, April 15, 2011

U of Guelph votes will count!

Elections Canada has released a Solomonesque public statement on the University of Guelph voting controversy. Of greatest interest is the fact that the student votes will be counted, and are considered to have been cast in a manner that respects the Canada Elections Act. The short version of the statement is that it appears that this special ballot station, although it was not centrally approved by the Chief Electoral Officer in advance of the election, is something that has often been done in a number of circumstances and was organized by the local Elections Canada Returning Officer. Such special ballot stations are usually pre-approved before an election. Similar on-site special ballot collection initiatives will not, however, be permitted for future cases during this election. Voters may, however, obtain individual special ballots from their riding's returning officers.

The statement treads a careful path between the competing party interests, staying away from explicit commentary on the other allegations (the alleged attempted box snatching, partisan material near the polls, the scrutineer question), and focusing on the central issue of whether the votes will count. For now, this is what needed to be addressed.

I remain, however, very concerned that amidst concerns about perceived irregularities, it was not until after the casting of ballots had taken place that active Conservative efforts were made to have the students' votes set aside. The details of this special ballot were well-publicized in advance in Guelph and around the university. Heck, the President of the university publicly offered to have his face painted Avatar-blue if enough students took part! In the absence of serious issues that might actually have led to actual fraud, all parties should be thinking in terms of encouraging youth votes, rather than actively cancelling them.

To any students/youth reading this post: Keep up your efforts to have your voices heard and votes counted!

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At 11:44 am, Anonymous Nicholas Miniaci said...

CTV News came to campus and did a segment on this controversy last night.

I'm watching it now, I'm curious to see how it is reported.

At 8:49 am, Anonymous Eamon said...

Interestingly enough, the Tories that I know argued that they hadn't heard about the event ahead of time (which is why they didn't have a scrutineer)... I actually heard that argument from Michael Sona himself. That explanation just didn't jive with Summerlee's promise, or the way most public agencies operate (from my experience they are terrified of looking partisan or biased, and so they make sure everyone gets all the info). That didn't stop the Tories I know from claiming that Elections Canada's findings were biased, though.


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