Introduced in February 2014, the Conservative-backed Fair Elections Act (Bill C-25), which aims to crack down on voter fraud, is now a fully enacted bill that raises major red flags for its disenfranchising effects. With the federal elections coming up in October of this year, many Canadians are questioning if this is actually the most effective method to ensure secure voting. The motivation behind the act seems fair enough, at face value. However, the implementation methods detailed in the bill have many damaging side effects, including the disenfranchisement of multiple vulnerable voting blocks, potentially giving the Conservative Party an unfair advantage in the upcoming federal election. The objective of this act, according to the Canadian government, is to crack down on voter fraud. One of the central tactics it employs is changing the documents required to demonstrate voter eligibility. In April 2014, Minister of Democratic Reform Pierre Poilievre claimed that “in a 21st century democracy, where people are required to produce ID to drive a car […] it is common sense to expect people to show ID to demonstrate who they are when they vote.”
However, the bill treads in dangerously undemocratic waters by manipulating how, or even if, some Canadians can cast their vote. It eliminates the use of vouching – being identified by a person in your area if you lack proper identification or proof of address – or a voter information card as ways of identification at the polls. According to the Chief Electoral Officer of Canada, 120,000 and 400,000 people respectively used these methods to cast a ballot in the last election. Vouching and voter info cards are primarily used by people who can prove their identity, but not their residence.
Many under the age of 25 find themselves shuffling between the different locations of home, school, and work more than two or three times a year, which can make having the correct ID that the Fair Elections Act now requires especially tricky. Putting this into perspective, over one million people aged between 18 and 25 voted in the 2011 federal election. If many of these voters no longer have the correct identification, it could significantly sway outcomes toward parties less popular with the younger generation. According to the Globe and Mail, Canadians under 35 are more left-leaning than their older counterparts. This indicates that removing a large amount of these voters from the electoral picture could highly benefit the Conservative Party.
Full Article: The Unfair Elections Act | The McGill Daily.