The Harper government’s overhaul of federal election rules could make it difficult for more than half a million voters to exercise their constitutional right to a ballot, says the author of a report that’s been used to justify the crackdown. “Either amend it or pull it,” Harry Neufeld said of Bill C-23 — dubbed the Fair Elections Act — after appearing before a parliamentary committee Thursday. Neufeld, the former British Columbia chief electoral officer, was just one of five non-partisan experts in electoral process to tell MPs the legislation requires some major fixes. In fact all five witnesses said the bill, as written, would do more harm than good to Canadian democracy.
“My experience in 33 years in this business is that when you deny somebody the vote and they don’t think there’s a justified reason for it, they get really, really angry,” Neufeld told reporters after an hour of blistering testimony. “And sometimes they’re quite willing to take it to the courts.”
He said if the bill passes as currently drafted “there will certainly be some court cases where Charter rights are put in question.”
Following the 2011 federal election, Neufeld wrote a report for Elections Canada detailing serious irregularities in 42 per cent of cases where voters vouched for others who lacked proper identification.
Full Article: Elections changes impact half million voters.