A left-leaning advocacy organization and a national student group will be in Ontario Superior Court on Thursday and Friday hoping to relax voter identification rules for the looming federal election. The court factum prepared by the Council of Canadians and the Canadian Federation of Students argues that tens of thousands or more of eligible voters will be denied a ballot this October due to changes enacted last year by the Conservative government. The groups want the court to issue an interim injunction allowing Elections Canada to recognize as valid ID the voter identification cards that are mailed to everyone on the voters’ list.
Some 400,000 Canadians used the voter identification cards in the 2011 election as part of a pilot project that Elections Canada wanted to expand to the whole country.
Instead, the Harper government — citing fear of voter fraud — passed a new law that increases the ID requirements of would-be electors while ruling out the use of the Elections Canada mail-outs that tell people where to vote.
Critics of the changes, including past and present chief electoral officers from across the country, say the strict ID rules will primarily impact the young, the elderly in care, students who move often, the homeless and natives on reserves — groups that might be less inclined to vote for the governing Conservatives.