The Ontario Superior Court is hearing arguments today and Friday from a coalition of groups seeking an injunction against a couple of key elements of the Conservative government’s Fair Elections Act. The group, comprised of the Council of Canadians, the Canadian Federation of Students, and three private voters, wants to restore the ability of Canada’s Chief Electoral Officer to allow the use of voter information cards as proof of address, and reinstate vouching provisions that would allow electors to prove their identity. The applicants filing the motion say they are concerned that provisions in the Fair Elections Act will systematically affect the ability of certain groups to vote, including youth, seniors, indigenous people, the homeless and people with disabilities. “We know that youth historically have low voter turnout and so we want to see changes to elections law that encourage students and youth to vote,” said Jessica McCormick with the Canadian Federation of Students. “The Fair Elections Act did the opposite,” she said in an interview with CBC News.
The group has also filed a lawsuit against the legislation, arguing that the act violates section 3 of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, which guarantees the “right to vote in an election of the members of the House of Commons or of a legislative assembly and to be qualified for membership therein.”
… Under the act, voters are no longer able to use their voter information card as proof of address. Voters must now provide a second piece of identification, such as a driver’s licence, to prove where they live.
Voters who do not have a driver’s licence — around four million Canadians — must provide another piece of identification as proof of address. For groups such as aboriginal communities, university students living off-campus, and senior citizens living in care facilities, this can prove challenging.