The contention that federal voting laws requiring all people to present identification at the ballot box could deny society’s most vulnerable people from ticking their preferred candidate will be put to the test for a second time, Monday in British Columbia’s highest court. Two anti-poverty activists and a visually impaired woman who couldn’t find the proper ID to vote in the last federal election are appealing a B.C. Supreme Court ruling that found the current law only presents a “minor inconvenience” for most. The plaintiffs plan to argue against the 2010 judgment, which failed to agree the law is unconstitutional.
Judge Lynn Smith refused to toss the federal government’s 2007 amendment to the Canada Elections Act, which requires voters to show identification and provide proof of address in order to vote or, if that isn’t possible, to find another voter to vouch for them.
She ruled that while the laws could interfere with some citizens’ ability to vote, they were needed to prevent fraud and ensure public confidence in the electoral system.
The B.C. Civil Liberties Association will also join the proceedings on Monday again as an interveners, and its lawyer will argue the amendments are prohibitive.
“We’re concerned that the voter ID laws are disenfranchising vulnerable and marginalized populations, people who already don’t have a strong voice in our political system,” said Raji Mangat, a lawyer for the non-partisan charitable group.
“We think that by making it more difficult for people to vote, that it’s just going to be harder for those people to speak at the polls.”