Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Overturning Election Results

One year after Canadians elected a Conservative majority government,there is one court challenge trying to overturn the results in one riding, Etobicoke Center, which was won by the Tories. The basis for this legal challenge is not allegations of Tory robocalling or fraud, but rather the incompetence of Elections Canada workers who did not properly understand our country's electoral law. The law says that you must vote at a designated poll location on election day, but there is a common misconception that you can show up to vote anywhere of convenience. This can lead to naive (though often well intentioned) election workers attempting to circumvent the law allowing them to vote in the wrong location. Typically this would be done either by an improper registration/revision or illegal vouching.

In Etobicoke the registration forms are either missing or never existed. Allegedly people were also being told at that location that they could vote in the box with the shortest line, and if people were doing so than many were voting in boxes where their name was not on the list; which would require corroborating incompetence by the DROs,  poll clerks and poll supervisors in addition to the information/registration officers. Now a Conservative MPs victory is being challenged in court because election workers did not do their jobs properly. The Tory has the most to lose, but make no mistake, it is Elections Canada on trial.

Has a judge ever overturned a federal election result? I'm not sure that you could just void all the results from that specific poll location, throwing away thousands of legal votes because of a few dozen improper registrations/vouchings. Can a judge force a byelection in a riding because workers at a given location screwed up? If that's the case, there's probably 100 other MPs who should be concerned for their jobs. In a perfect world, election workers would know election rules and perform their duties accordingly. Unfortunately when dealing with a large temporary workforce assembled and trained in a short period of time, you are going to get mistakes, in some place more than others. Is this sufficient to force a byelection?


  1. Since when did Elections Canada ever do their job right? As somebody who has helped various Conservative candidates in the past saw alot of irregularities that were ignored by Elections Canada in favour of sitting Liberal MPs.

    The liberal MP who lost the riding has liberal party leadership aspirations as per:

    He was also hurt by his submission/surrender to then Party Leader Ignatieff so as to retain a seat on parliamentary committees. Previously he had fought hard against Ignatieff's leadership bid. His submission had allowed him to retain a profile in the caucus. This move was seen as a betrayal of the Ukrainian community and thus some of his traditional support abandoned him which was just enough for him to lose the election.

    I believe he thinks if there was a new by-election held and now with Ignatieff gone, he would be able to be re-elected. I think he believes that being a sitting MP will help his leadership aspirations.

  2. Maybe in addition to proper ID, some sort of test should be applied before allowing electors to vote:
    "To the voters who sketched hearts next to Borys Wrzesnewskyj’s name on their election ballot a couple weeks ago — the former Liberal MP is very flattered.

    “I appreciate the sentiment,” said Wrzesnewskyj, laughing. “Unfortunately, those ballots weren’t counted.”

    The few heart-marked votes were among the 800 reviewed by a judge in a recount for the Etobicoke Centre riding, after Conservative candidate Ted Opitz squeaked past Wrzesnewskyj, the incumbent, by just 26 votes on election night. ...

    Some voters simply circled their choice. Others couldn’t keep their X in the lines. Others just crossed out the names of candidates they presumably didn’t like.

    A surprising number of voters used the ballot to write messages to their favorite candidates, Wrzesnewskyj said.

    Some drew hearts. ..."

    Awww ... isn't that sweet?
    -- Gabby in QC

  3. I have had a lot of experience with elections and I predict that this type of goof up will occur more often in the future. In short, the issue here is that ALL of the local election workers are temporary civil servants, supposedly trained by a Returning Officer, who is also temporary, in election procedures devised by the same type of people who designed your tax forms etc.

    The temp workers are mostly seniors. Younger people are either not available or simply will not touch the job. Sooo -- get the picture?

    Any way the judge will most likely try to estimate how many votes could have been rogue and compare that number to the vote difference.

  4. A scrutineer for Etobicoke Center says that some voters told him they were called by Team Wrzesnewskyj to go into Etobicoke Center to vote for Borys even though they made it known to the callers that they no longer lived in the riding.

    Borys also supported Ignatieff wholeheartedly,the Ukrainian commuity saw this blind poiltical obedience as a betrayal to their heritage based on Ignatieff quotes about the nasal whinings of Little Russians.


  5. Why even talk about this kind of crap.The judge wont do anything because he has no authority to do anything.These errors have happened before and will happen again.GET OVER IT.

  6. The election is over.A judge scrutinised the evidence,and decided the vote was legitimate.

    HOW many bloody counts will it take before the Liberals are satisfied? As many as it takes to overthrow the results,and hold a re-election.

    This is BS.It's been already done,nothing more need be said.

  7. liberals better watch out if they do a recount in some ridings they may lose those seats

  8. Good article, however, the Returning Officer is not a temporary employee - they hold their positions for a minimum of 10 years. All of the others, deputy returning officers, poll clerks, and registration officers are temporary election workers nominated/appointed by the political parties placing 1st or 2nd in the last election. The fact that these partisan temporary election employees are demonstrating their incompetence at performing their legislated tasks is deeply concerning and suggests that honest, non-partisan Canadians would better fill these roles.

  9. This is never going to happen.