Do you want the B.C. Liberals and NDP to know if you voted in the last election?

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      IntegrityBC, a nonprofit organization that promotes democracy in the province, posted today (March 25) the following text on its Facebook page:

      Do you want the British Columbia Excalibur Party to know if you voted in the last election? How about the People's Front or the New Wave party? Or the BC Liberal Party? BC NDP perhaps? How about one of the other 18 registered political parties in the province?

      The BC government's proposed amendments to the Election Act – tabled by Justice minister Suzanne Anton in the legislature yesterday – aren't just about increasing voter accessibility and “administrative” matters, as the government claims, they're also about releasing information. On you. To all of BC's political parties.

      If passed, Bill 20 will require Elections BC to provide a list of voters to any registered political party – after an election – that indicates which of those voters voted in the election. There are 23 registered parties in BC today. It only takes two individuals to form a party in BC.

      Where did the idea come from? Not from the Chief Electoral Officer, but from six party representatives of four political parties meeting at the Delta Vancouver Suites last September in their capacity as members of the Election Advisory Committee. One of the six was Laura Miller from the BC Liberal Party.

      The Chief Electoral Officer did make a recommendation to the committee regarding an anomaly in the current act. Specifically that party representatives are allowed to observe and track voter participation manually on election day as part of their get out the vote efforts, but they're not allowed to do it at the advance polls. It is an anomaly and should be addressed.

      But when the Chief Electoral Officer consulted with the six party representatives on that recommendation, his 2014 Report is clear: “all political party representatives on the Election Advisory Committee requested that the Election Act also be amended to require the Chief Electoral Officer to provide individual voter participation information to political parties after an election. This is not an operational requirement of Elections BC, and the Chief Electoral Officer does not take a position on this request.”

      According to the Minutes of that 2014 meeting, “a member explained that having a complete list is a tool that allows parties to engage voters on an ongoing basis.” It may be done in Ontario as that member claimed, but that doesn't make it right or that BC should follow suit without wide public consultations on the issue.

      The amendment doesn't go to how you voted, just if you voted. But is that something you really want widely known? Is it anyone's business other than yours? Exactly how does this amendment advance democracy?

      This requires far more thought and input than the self-interest of four political parties meeting at the Delta Vancouver Suites one afternoon in September.

      Contact your MLA today and ask that Section 51 (2) be pulled from Bill 20, so that British Columbians get a chance to have our say.

      MLA contact information is available at: www.leg.bc.ca/mla/3-1-1.htm

       

      Extracts from Election Advisory Committee (EAC) Minutes

      Tuesday, September 30, 2014

      Delta Vancouver Suites

      Committee Members (alphabetically by political party name) Michael Gardiner, BC NDP Raj Sihota, BC NDP Jeff Bridge, British Columbia Conservative Party Laura Miller, British Columbia Liberal Party Sharon White, British Columbia Liberal Party Bob Lorriman, Green Party Political Association of British Columbia

      Discussion

      • Anton Boegman explained that EBC has spent more than a year developing a privacy management framework. As part of this process EBC determined that the organization does not have the legal authority to disclose participation records. At the same time EBC understands the challenges political parties face in collecting information regarding who has voted.

      • A member observed that at the last EAC meeting all parties indicated that they wanted participation extracts. The member asked Anton whether this recommendation would result in a list of participation following the event. The member also added that Ontario provides this information to political parties.

      (a) This recommendation is designed to assist with “get out the vote efforts” and as that requirement ends after the election, there is no intention to include a recommendation for an extract after General Voting Day.

      • A member explained that all parties are interested in obtaining a participation list after an event.

      • A member explained that having a complete list is a tool that allows parties to engage voters on an ongoing basis. The member added that an extract should be available on an ongoing basis and that a final extract should be produced for parties after the event.

       

      Extract from the Report of the Chief Electoral Officer on Recommendations for Legislative Change (October 2014):

      Specific authority to provide voter turnout information to candidates (ss. 96, 97)

      Candidates play an important role in voter participation. During voting proceedings, candidate representatives observe voting, track who has already voted and feed that information into their “get out the vote” efforts. Concurrent with declining voter participation, candidates have also experienced challenges in finding sufficient volunteers to act as candidate representatives, which has impacted their ability to effectively perform this function. Candidate representatives have the authority to observe and inspect voting documents during voting proceedings. Elections BC, however, does not have the authority to create records on voter turnout and provide these to candidate representatives. Elections Canada and most Canadian provincial election agencies have legislation authorizing the production of turnout records (e.g. bingo cards) during voting.

      Recommendations Amend s. 96(3)(b) to authorize an election official to provide to a candidate representative, as directed by the Chief Electoral Officer, a written record of the voter sequence numbers of voters who have voted, excepting new registrations. Amend s. 97 to authorize the District Electoral Officer to send to each candidate, at the end of each advance voting day and as directed by the Chief Electoral Officer, the voter sequence number of each voter who has voted, excepting new registrations.

      SIDE BAR BOX: When consulted on this issue, all political party representatives on the Election Advisory Committee requested that the Election Act also be amended to require the Chief Electoral Officer to provide individual voter participation information to political parties after an election. This is not an operational requirement of Elections BC, and the Chief Electoral Officer does not take a position on this request.

       

      BC Election Act, Section 51 today:

      Division 3 – Lists of voters generally

      51 (1) Subject to section 275, the chief electoral officer may prepare and provide a list of voters to an individual or organization requesting it and may charge a fee for preparing and providing the list.

      (2) Without limiting subsection (1), on request and payment of the reasonable costs of reproduction, the chief electoral officer must provide a list of voters to a registered political party or member of the Legislative Assembly.

      (3) For the purpose of tracing unauthorized use of lists of voters, including a list of voters used for election purposes, the chief electoral officer may have fictitious voter information included in a list of voters.

      (4) Despite any other provision of this Act, the chief electoral officer may prepare a list of voters, including a list of voters used for election purposes, that omits or obscures the address of a voter or other information about a voter in order to protect the privacy or security of the voter.

      How it would read if the amendment passes:

      51 (1) Subject to section 275, the chief electoral officer may prepare and provide a list of voters to an individual or organization requesting it and may charge a fee for preparing and providing the list.

      (2) Without limiting subsection (1), on request and on payment of the reasonable costs of reproduction, the chief electoral officer must provide the following:

      (a) to a registered political party or member of the Legislative Assembly, a list of voters;

      (b) to a registered political party, in respect of a general election for which the last writ of election was returned, a list of voters that indicates which voters on the list voted in the general election;

      (c) to a registered political party, in respect of a by-election that takes place between the date the writ referred to in paragraph (b) was returned and the date the next general election is called, a list of voters that indicates which voters on the list voted in the by-election.

      (3) For the purpose of tracing unauthorized use of lists of voters, including a list of voters used for election purposes, the chief electoral officer may have fictitious voter information included in a list of voters.

      (4) Despite any other provision of this Act, the chief electoral officer may prepare a list of voters, including a list of voters used for election purposes, that omits or obscures the address of a voter or other information about a voter in order to protect the privacy or security of the voter.

      NOTE: "organization" means an incorporated or unincorporated organization.

       

      Sources:

      Election Act amendments provide increased voter accessibility

      http://www.newsroom.gov.bc.ca/2015/03/election-act-amendments-provide-increased-voter-accessibility.html

      BILL 20 – ELECTION AMENDMENT ACT, 2015

      https://www.leg.bc.ca/40th4th/1st_read/gov20-1.htm

      B.C. Election Act

      http://www.bclaws.ca/Recon/document/ID/freeside/96106_00

      Election Advisory Committee (EAC)

      http://www.elections.bc.ca/index.php/can/polparties/eac/#A

      Election Advisory Committee (EAC) Minutes

      http://www.elections.bc.ca/docs/eac/EAC-Minutes-2014-Sept-30.pdf

      Report of the Chief Electoral Officer on Recommendations for Legislative Change (October 2014)

      http://www.elections.bc.ca/docs/rpt/2014-CEO-Recommendations.pdf

      B.C. Liberal executive caught up in Ontario scandal

      http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/british-columbia/bc-liberal-executive-caught-up-in-ontario-scandal/article17807705/

      Comments

      3 Comments

      WikiWizard

      Mar 25, 2015 at 3:13pm

      Most political parties know who voted already, because they have scrutineers at the polling stations on election day. This is actually an important tool for keeping elections honest. In transparent elections, parties' scrutineers have the right to know who is voting, to make sure that everything is above board (i.e. so dead people don't vote, like they used to in Chicago).

      We don't have a lot of election fraud in Canada (but it happens -- see Robocall scandal), but that's because there is a lot of transparency about such things as voters lists, voting record, and so on. Ironically, too much "privacy" would turn us into a place where elections could be routinely fixed, such as, well, almost anywhere in Africa, South America, Asia and Eastern Europe.

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      Protect Democracy

      Mar 25, 2015 at 9:18pm

      Years ago to ensure transparent elections a list of who voted was posted publicly on notice boards so any citizen could examine the list and ensure nobody was cheating. Somewhere along the way some bureaucrat decided it was private information, but shouldn't every citizen have right to know who votes and not just hope political parties keep it honest?

      This is a check and balance to keep our democracy safe.

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      Sharon Best

      Apr 4, 2015 at 10:25pm

      Oh yeah. Great idea. Your employer could, theoretically, find out if you voted or not if they had connections to a particular party.

      There's no need for this.

      Parties can figure out participation on their own.

      Whether or not I vote is none of their business.

      0 0Rating: 0