In some places across Canada, it looked like the way elections are manipulated in the United States: cuts in the number of polling places, fewer and further apart, and lineups of two to three hours or more.
And all this despite Election Canada’s budget for this federal election going UP more than a HUNDRED MILLION DOLLARS …. to $610 Million, from $502 Million in 2019 to run the election properly.
South of the border, it’s a tried and true way for sleazy American incumbent politicians to discourage voters from showing up to cast ballots … especially in areas where their opponents have a good chance at winning.
But that’s America.
North of the 49th parallel, running the vote is Elections Canada, “the independent, non-partisan agency responsible for conducting federal elections and referendums. Its mission is to ensure that Canadians can exercise their democratic rights to vote and be a candidate.”
Until now, Elections Canada has been widely respected for doing its job professionally, efficiently, competently … and fairly.
Not in the Sept. 21, 2021 Election.
In 11 Toronto-area ridings, Elections Canada CUT the number of polling stations by MORE THAN HALF the normal number … up to 73% in one constituency, causing lineups that went on for hours. https://www.cp24.com/news/some-gta-voters-wait-hours-past-close-of-polls-to-vote-amid-massive-lineups-and-fewer-voting-places-1.5592438.
In BC, some prospective voters were forced to wait in line more than three hours. https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/british-columbia/general-election-2021-ubc-voting-long-waits-1.6184286.
Screwups like those happened far too often this election in far too many places.
How many thousands of voters walked away … unwilling or unable to stand for hours to cast a ballot? https://www.ctvnews.ca/politics/federal-election-2021/elections-canada-sorry-people-didn-t-vote-because-of-long-lineups-1.5594728
How might their votes have affected the outcome in so many close ridings?
I suspect many of those subjected to that grueling exercise will never even bother to try to vote again.
This when Monday’s voter “turnout” (those who did actually get to vote) was reportedly the lowest in Canada since 2008. https://www.orilliamatters.com/canadavotes2021/voter-turnout-for-2021-federal-election-among-the-lowest-4356251.
Even though iPolitics reported “Mail ballots, especially, are far more popular – almost 20 times as many people have voted by mail this time around as in 2019 (914,000 as opposed to about 50,000).
Something is not right!
Elections Canada officials blamed the pandemic.
Elections Canada media advisor Rejean Grenier “stressed the agency didn’t have a choice in whether to run the election during the pandemic. This year, there were significantly fewer overall voting sites in many ridings across the country, due to COVID-19 restrictions which prevented many schools, churches, or other buildings from being eligible locations,” CTV reported.
“We had all of the criteria that was placed on us where we had no choice about choosing certain sites,” Grenier said in a phone interview. He explained that despite ridings having fewer voting sites, there were more booths inside them, which meant the total number of voting booths overall was similar to past years.”
I don’t buy the excuses.
Elections Canada is NOT a rent-a-bureaucrat part-time operation, with those in charge hired only once the vote is called. Many officials there have made Election preparations/organizing a long-time career … paid well, and rewarded with terrific federal benefits.
Elections Canada brass knew Canada had a minority government that could fall involuntarily at any time; Elections Canada was aware Trudeau was often reported to be considering holding the election during the pandemic; Elections Canada should have had a constantly updated FULL inventory of available large venues ready to go for polling places … even during Covid.
There are too many riding races this election that are so close, the outcomes are still not known … and Elections Canada FAILURES could impact the outcome.
There is something wrong …VERY WRONG … when people who are qualified to vote, want to vote, show up to vote … but then have unreasonable obstacles placed in their way by Election officials so they cannot vote!
How did this happen? Who decided to cut so many polling places? Who decided where polling stations would be located … and where they were not? Were there any discussions, consultations with ANYONE … elected or appointed … in government about reducing the number voting places? Was any of the search for voting places OR their locations contracted out to anyone or any company? How many Election workers were hired this time, compared to last?
There MUST be an investigation into Elections Canada’s handling … or mishandling … of the 2021 vote.
And it should NOT be carried out by Elections Canada officials themselves.
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