Elections Canada has quietly warned staff to be on the lookout for increasingly sophisticated tactics aimed at discouraging — or even stopping — voters from casting a ballot. The advanced voter suppression techniques flourishing in the United States are likely to spill into other countries, employees were advised in a presentation aimed at raising awareness prior to the Oct. 19 federal election. The digital revolution has fuelled intensive data analysis south of the border that allows political parties to zero in on people who support rival candidates and then find ways to prevent them from voting. The development prompted Elections Canada to comb through academic papers and media reports and talk to experts and lawyers about the phenomenon of electoral malpractice.
“It’s important for us to identify potential risks in order to be prepared to detect and respond to incidents that may occur, including incidents that could compromise the integrity of the election,” said Elections Canada spokesman John Enright.
A copy of the May 2014 presentation, “An Introduction to Emerging Trends and Threats in Electoral Operations,” was released to The Canadian Press under the Access to Information Act.
It was prepared just months before Conservative campaign worker Michael Sona was convicted of taking part in a scheme to misdirect voters in Guelph, Ont., to phoney poll locations during the 2011 campaign.