With all the hyperbole and "expert opinion" regarding the Fair Elections Act right now, the media would be all over stories of voter fraud and how the proposed legislation would crack down on it.
... Wouldn't they?
In 2006, incumbent Conservative MP Jeremy Harrison was facing Liberal candidate Gary Merasty, a former chief of one of the aboriginal bands in the riding. All of the polls had closed and the votes were being counted. With all but one poll being counted, Harrison had been re-elected.
But suddenly, over three and a half hours after the polls had closed, that final poll came in - it was from an aboriginal band. Suddenly, Conservative MP Harrison had been defeated by the Liberal by a mere 68 votes.
Suspicious yet? Just wait.
Over 100 percent of the eligible voting population voted! That's right: on top of the 380 voters who were registered to vote, another 240 people showed up and registered on election day. And they were all vouched for!
Secondly, every single ballot just so happened to be in Merasty's name.
Thirdly, a prize was given away - a flat screen TV - supposedly to incentivize voting. This raffle was done in the same building as the polling station, so band administrators could easily enter names into the draw as they voted.
Did you read that correctly? Yes, you did!
What was Elections Canada's response to such suspicious activity - indeed, potential fraud?
The voter turnout of over 100 percent? Well, aboriginals historically have low voter turnout. More of them voting is great! Also, the voter lists for the reserve were wildly out of date.
The delay of over three and a half hours? Well, vouching for 240 people takes a bit of time!
What about every single ballot being cast in the favour of the Liberal? There wasn't a single vote for the Conservatives or the NDP or another party? Well, it turned out the poll's band chief called a meeting and said voters would "get a better deal" by voting Liberal rather than Conservative. "I don't know that's against the law," said former Commissioner of Canada Elections William Corbett, the Commissioner who investigated the allegations.
Finally, how was it legal to "incentivize" voting by offering a prize raffle for voting - especially in an election with over 100 percent voter turnout and where all of the votes went to one candidate!? The band explained to Elections Canada: “Well, you can't get anybody out to do anything around here without a raffle and a prize. It's the way we do things. If you want a meeting, you have a raffle and a prize to get them to your meeting.”
Why haven't we heard about this? After all, the Commissioner of Canada Elections issued a press release on it; it's posted below. But it is not easily accessible through Elections Canada's website. And this case has been repeated in parliamentary hearings, including with the former Commissioner of Canada Elections.
Why has this story been conveniently left out from the narrative on the Fair Elections Act?
This is exactly why changes to Canada's voting system are needed, including eliminating the practice of vouching and cracking down on any interference in Canada's electoral process.
Held in Riding of Desnethé–Missinippi–Churchill River, Saskatchewan
- an increase in election-day registration by first-time eligible electors who were not on any official list
- electors who turned up to vote at the poll on the reserve where they resided instead of at the neighbouring polling divisions where they were listed to vote