The opposition parties have former B.C. elections chief Harry Neufeld at the top of their witness lists for testimony on proposed Conservative election law after he warned that “well over 100,000” electors will be denied their right to vote if the government goes ahead with plans to prohibit voter vouching for electors with no official ID. Mr. Neufeld, who conducted an exhaustive review of electoral law and rule compliance in the 2011 election, has challenged the government’s position that widespread irregularities he found in the way vouching was administered on election day were indicative of potential fraud, as well as the government claim that an Elections Canada voter information card is too unreliable to be also used by voters who have insufficient ID to prove their residence. Elimination of the two voter identification methods are among the most controversial aspects of Bill C-23, and are also on a list of measures in the legislation that the opposition says could benefit the Conservative party the most because electors who generally use either vouching or the information cards—which Elections Canada had planned to approve as official residence ID for the next election—have tended to support parties other than the Conservatives.
Mr. Neufeld, speaking in an interview on CBC Radio’s weekend political program The House, was the most specific in the debate so far to indicate how many electors could be disenfranchised should the vouching ban and a prohibition on voter information cards as proof of residence go ahead.
Mr. Neufeld, a pre-eminent electoral expert and international electoral consultant following an eight-year career as the chief electoral officer of British Columbia, challenged suggestions from Minister of State for Democratic Reform Pierre Poilievre (Nepean-Carleton, Ont.) that significant irregularities he found in the way polling officials administered vouching suggested the possibility also of widespread voter fraud.