Ex-MLA Gordon Wilson issues voter fraud warning for leadership races

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      The B.C. Liberal and New Democratic parties have two things in common when it comes to their respective leadership races.

      One, they hired the same Nova Scotia–based electronic-voting-system company to conduct the online and phone-in voting by their members.

      Two, they had the option of asking Intelivote Systems to require voters to produce not only the unique personal identification number assigned to them, but also a secondary credential—a birthdate, for example—to minimize the risk of fraud. But neither party did. This has done nothing to allay former B.C. Liberal leader and ex-NDP cabinet minister Gordon Wilson’s fear that the adoption of online and telephone voting is an invitation to fraud.

      “The problem with that is that you have no way of verifying if the individual who’s phoning in or typing in the PIN number is in fact the individual to whom the PIN number was assigned,” Wilson told the Georgia Straight in a phone interview.

      Wilson noted that the system is completely automated. There will be no one at the other end of the telephone line or Internet connection to confirm the identity of the individual making a vote.

      “If you go out and you get say 5,000 or 6,000 people to authorize you to sign them up, you can sign them up for the party, you can raise money independently to pay for their memberships, they’ll all be assigned a PIN number which they will all hand to you, so you’ve got now 5,000 PIN numbers,” he explained. “You go to a call centre or to a law firm or to a real-estate office or anywhere where they’ve got a large number of phone banks, a large number of computer hookups. You assign these numbers to individuals”¦who are sitting in front of their computers. As soon as the poll opens, these [people]”¦will just routinely punch in these numbers.”

      B.C. Liberals and New Democrats have boasted about the thousands of new members who have signed up during the two leadership races.

      But there have been controversies along the way. A cat kept by a supporter of B.C. Liberal leadership candidate Christy Clark became a card-carrying member. Kamloops hockey players were signed up without their knowledge by the campaign of Liberal contender Kevin Falcon.

      On the NDP side, questions were raised about the membership sign-ups, particularly in the South Asian community, by Adrian Dix’s team. Vancouver-Kensington MLA Mable Elmore, who is expected to endorse Dix on Sunday (February 20), also caused a flap with her sign-ups.

      For Wilson, there is no substitute for a voter showing up at a physical polling station to receive a ballot after identity verification. “I mean in an electoral process, you can’t walk into a polling booth and cast a vote for six people,” he said. “You have one vote. That’s it. That’s all you’re allowed to cast.”

      In a phone interview from Halifax, the president and founder of Intelivote indicated that clients often require a secondary credential in addition to PINs for online and telephone voting purposes. According to Intelivote’s Dean Smith, the B.C. Liberal Party and NDP both chose to use PINs only.

      “Their goal is to make sure that as many people vote as can do,” Smith told the Straight.

      Smith said that Intelivote has “certain forensic capabilities in our system to determine if large quantities of PINs are being voted from the same [telephone] number or same IP [Internet Protocol] address”.

      However, observing that this is taking place doesn’t necessarily mean that fraud is occurring, according to Smith. He explained that, for example, voters in a given locality may choose to have a mini convention at one place, and use either the same phone or computer to cast their votes. A similar situation might arise for workers in the same office. The same phone number or IP address will also show up when voters in big families cast their ballots.

      Smith said that it’s up to the parties to ensure that the campaign teams of leadership candidates will not engage in the mass collection of PINs.

      “We can’t prevent people from performing illegal acts simply by running our system,” Smith said.

      Lilian Kim is the director of communications and media relations for the B.C. Liberal Party. In a phone interview, Kim said that the party does “recognize that there are some concerns” about PINs being rounded up for its February 26 leadership vote.

      “We do keep that in mind but at the end of the day, we are confident of the security measures that we have in place,” Kim told the Straight.

      NDP provincial secretary Jan O’Brien didn’t return the Straight’s call by deadline. The NDP will hold its leadership vote on April 17.




      Feb 17, 2011 at 7:43am

      Wait....let me get this straight. You are telling us the BC politicians might not be completely honest with us?! Certainly you didn't mean the BC Liberals....

      glen p robbins

      Feb 17, 2011 at 8:08am

      I believe its been routine for years to raise money for leadership and circulate it to pay for sign ups--that hasn't changed. The fact that the parties can now theoretically institute bulk voting as Gordon has described is what is alarming.

      Why wouldn't they cheat? It's not as if the BC Liberals don't have an immediate history of cheating - it's what they are known for. The New Democrats are also known cheaters. The big lie could be look how many new members voted for us - we are both so beautiful with our corporate and union donations - its chocolate or vanilla only for voters.

      You would never see the BC Conservatives for BC First with so many members voting - British Columbians are excited.

      Hereinafter the BC Liberals can ask their sponsors how they can convert the memberships into publicly trading stock - and now we're balling.

      Fan'o Truth

      Feb 17, 2011 at 8:44am

      Wilson is right.

      The whole object of bulk sales is to get a few key leaders to control big blocks of votes. In the computer age, this is how the game is played.


      Feb 17, 2011 at 10:39am

      Electronic voting is the most practical tool for mass polling and voting. Godon Wilson's warning of voter-fraud, hopefully is not dismissing the validity of technology, but should question: " who is operating the system?"; and "how can anyone verify the authenticity of the participants?".
      An example of a non-partisan, non-profit, veribiable electoral system can be seen and tried at www.nowpolling.ca

      What Democracy

      Feb 17, 2011 at 10:48am

      Good on Carlito Pablo and the Straight for continuing to bring this topic to the public's attention. Where are the other media on this? Seems to me if our system is being hijacked fraudulently it is a concern for all of us regardless of party affiliation!!

      David Wong

      Feb 17, 2011 at 12:11pm

      the biggest joke is that there is no requirement to be a Canadian citizen to join a political party.

      That means, I could have just jumped off a boat, get bribed by a donut and coffee, and join a political party - all paid for by others... and affect political office.

      Not too bloody shabby, eh.

      After that, I'll apply for Canada pension, snag some free medicare, and I'll cry racism everytime some white guy points out the flaws in the system.

      Ken Lawson

      Feb 17, 2011 at 2:08pm

      To me online voting is not a problem if they gave out secure access codes, they real problem is how many of these Voters have a canadian citizenship, this vote is not for permanent residents!

      David Wong

      Feb 17, 2011 at 7:00pm

      I fergot to mention... jeezus Cripes, Gord Wilson looks so old in that photo.

      Hell, if that's what politics does to a person, why the hell does anyone want to run for Public Orifice?

      glen p robbins

      Feb 17, 2011 at 8:33pm

      David - I thought he looked like an older rock star.

      And nowwww-- for all you little chickadees out there - Gordon Wilson and the Moody Blues.

      "Knights in White Satin--------

      G La Flam

      Feb 18, 2011 at 2:09am

      Let's Complain about voter fraud, after we see some evidence. This is an improvement over the existing system.