More than 165,000 people seem to have voted improperly in the last election, a new Elections Canada report has found, and the system for voting needs to be overhauled, although there isn’t enough time to do that before the next election. Chief Electoral Officer Marc Mayrand commissioned the report after irregularities in the Toronto riding of Etobicoke Centre led to a court challenge that went to the Supreme Court of Canada. Former Elections Canada executive Harry Neufeld audited 1,000 polls from the last election as well as three recent byelections, and discovered systematic errors in the processing of the 15 per cent of voters who show up on election day without having been registered.
“Serious errors, of a type the courts consider ‘irregularities’ that can contribute to an election being overturned, were found to occur in 12 percent of all Election Day cases involving voter registration, and 42 percent of cases involving identity vouching.”
The auditors estimate that there were irregularities associated with 1.3 per cent of all votes cast in the 2011 election, many involving paperwork errors with the vouching process for voters who need to be sworn in.
Those kinds of errors led the Ontario Superior Court to overturn the election result in Etobicoke Centre, where Liberal MP Borys Wrzesnewskyj was defeated by Conservative Ted Opitz by 79 votes on election day in 2011. The Supreme Court overturned that case on appeal since there was no evidence of fraud.