The author of a report cited repeatedly to justify cracking down on potential voter fraud says the Harper government is misrepresenting his report and ignoring his recommendations. Indeed, Harry Neufeld says there’s not a shred of evidence that there have been more than “a handful” of cases of deliberate voter fraud in either federal or provincial elections. “I never said there was voter fraud,” Neufeld said in an interview with The Canadian Press. “Nor did the Supreme Court, who looked at this extremely carefully.” Neufeld said the government’s efforts to prevent voter fraud are aimed at a non-existent problem. And he predicted they’ll wind up disenfranchising thousands of voters and resulting in a rash of court challenges. The former chief electoral officer for British Columbia was commissioned by Elections Canada to review the problem of non-compliance with the rules for casting ballots after a challenge to the 2011 results in the Toronto riding of Etobicoke Centre disclosed numerous irregularities. That case went all the way to the Supreme Court, which last year rejected a bid by the failed Liberal candidate to overturn the results.
Pierre Poilievre, the minister for democratic reform, has repeatedly cited Neufeld’s report to justify two controversial provisions in his bill to overhaul the Canada Elections Act: prohibiting voter information cards as a valid piece of identification and ending the practice of allowing people to “vouch” for voters who do not have the proper identification documents.
He referred to the report again Thursday in response to chief electoral officer Marc Mayrand, who told a Commons committee earlier in the day that the vast majority of the irregularities identified by Neufeld were mistakes by election officials in administering oaths and filling out the vouching paperwork.
“This gives me occasion to correct the explicit factual error in the CEO’s testimony when he said that the errors linked to vouching were strictly record-keeping that would not compromise an election,” Poilievre told the House of Commons.