It will be days, maybe weeks or even months before the final results of the US election are known.
But I believe there are unavoidable facts and truths that are already self evident: Canada’s electoral system is better.
We may occasionally have to board up our storefronts before a hockey final, some sort of massive protest or New Year’s Eve celebrations … but NEVER an election! And even though we have a wide variety of federal political parties and ideologies that win seats in the the Commons … from Conservatives to Liberals to New Democrats to Greens and even sovereigntist Bloc Quebecois …. none of them are supported by armed wackos armed to the teeth who threaten violence if their side loses.
Canada’s registered political parties don’t put out phony ballot boxes to intercept advance votes; no incumbent or aspiring Canadian leader suggests all counting, including advance or mail in votes already received, should cease at Midnight; and, there is no Canadian non-elected “college” of political appointees who decide and can even be instructed by a province or can decide on their own to overrule voters’ decisions.
And that’s only some of the American election weaknesses.
“Since 2008, states across the country have passed measures to make it harder for Americans—particularly black people, the elderly, students, and people with disabilities—to exercise their fundamental right to cast a ballot. These measures include cuts to early voting, voter ID laws, and purges of voter rolls,” the American Civil Liberties Union has pointed out.
These vote obstructing and vote-suppressing actions … are carried out not by hackers or foreign powers or by organized crime, but by American governments and public officials themselves, sworn to protect and defend the US Constitution, further offending democracy.
And, in too many cases, politicized Courts deliver rulings that allow them to get away with it!
It’s all part of irrefutable evidence that the American election system, as President Trump said, is indeed “rigged”. Or at least has been corrupted enough in so many states over the years in a concerted, and successful effort to suppress millions of citizens’ democratic right to vote.
The closeness of the results in the latest US race shows how critical … and damaging … those acts to prevent, deny and dismiss the ability of millions of Americans to vote has been to the US electoral system.
In Canada, Elections Canada … our highly independent and non-partisan body that reports directly to Parliament … supervises and controls the nation’s federal voting mechanisms, including polling station locations, provision of ballot boxes and ensuring that voting is not only explained and promoted (in several languages) across the land but also is fairly carried out and accessible, encouraged and assisted.
Elections Canada goes to such extraordinary lengths to make sure that all happens, even in remote areas, I believe Canadians universally respect the role, the efforts and the record of Elections Canada in our democracy.
True, some Canadians would prefer a proportional representation form of elections, but they don’t have that in the US either.
In the vote we just witnessed in the US, states individually established the laws/controls/restrictions that governed the federal vote … and in far too many states, the obstructionism has been even worse than ever … and DOZENS of lawsuits already launched in US Courts against alleged voter suppression testified to that.
This is how bad some of it was:
Texas and Ohio restricted to one ballot box per county (some counties so large they have millions of voters) where absentee ballots could be dropped off. One ballot box for an entire county! Other states bar mail-in voting …except in exceptional circumstances.
Others selectively purged voter rolls, dropping some unsuspecting voters who did not realize they had to re-register this year to vote; or introduced new voter I.D. rules particularly difficult for poor, inner city minorities to meet; or required mail-in ballots to have their outer envelopes signed by a witness (who knew?) or they would be thrown out; or even prescribed that an official notary had to stamp/sign the mail-in ballot envelope to be valid.
Under state control of federal voting, electors in some urban areas (reportedly especially those with large numbers of black/inner city voters) had to wait up to 12 hours in line (not so in the suburbs) to exercise their franchise.
Many voters (many very poor and not owning their own vehicles) in remote American First Nations communities were disenfranchised by rules that forbade ballot-harvesting: ie. allowing others on their reserves to gather up ballots and deliver them to polling stations often many miles away.
In Florida, voters in 2018 approved a referendum with 65% support, restoring voting rights to 1.4 million former felons … in a state Trump had won in 2016 by only 100,000 votes. The Republican Governor/State House overruled the voters’ decision, and when that was challenged in Florida Supreme Court, five judges appointed by Trump formed the the majority on the bench to support the state’s decision to deny former felons the vote.
And all this is without even getting into all the gerrymandering of voting boundaries that politically twists, trims, plumps and manipulates the vote in many, many US states (Makes 1978 Gracie’s Finger in BC in look like child’s play! 🙂 )
No doubt Canada had its own history of boundary manipulations … but nothing today comes even close to the levels of we still see so prevalent in the US.
Nor do we celebrate deliberate attempts (and successes) that prevent and suppress fellow citizens … millions of them … from voting.
Even the one aspect of the US system I used to like … direct election by the voters of the President … has been corrupted by an additional manipulatable layer, the Electoral College.
In 2016, Hillary Clinton received THREE MILLION MORE direct votes than Trump …but was denied the Presidency through the Electoral College … whose “members” do NOT have to vote the way their state’s voters do!!!
“Electors are “pledged” to a presidential ticket based on the results of the popular vote in each state or district. In most cases, all of a state’s electors go to the candidate who gets the most votes in the state; Maine and Nebraska also use the results at the district level to allocate a share of their votes,” a National Post article explained last Friday.
“But, yet, it’s not that straightforward. “Faithless electors” can still cast their vote against the candidate that they are pledged to vote for. Seven such “faithless electors” actually voted in 2016 for someone other than the candidate to whom they were pledged: two in Trump’s column and five in Clinton’s.”
You can read that entire article here: https://nationalpost.com/news/world/what-is-the-u-s-electoral-college-and-how-does-it-work.
And there were indications just last week in the US it could happen again this election: https://www.nbcnews.com/politics/2020-election/trump-travel-anticipates-race-potentially-decided-single-electoral-college-vote-n1244706.
Whatever the final outcome, the integrity of what Trump calls America’s “rigged” voting will once more be besmirched.
While Canadians can feel prouder than ever of how much fairer and better OUR country handles voting.
Even if we might not always like the outcome.
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