VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – As we wait for a federal election call that could come as soon as this weekend, there are worries a law brought in by the Conservative government late last year could keep a lot of people from casting a ballot this fall.
The Fair Elections Act is meant to prevent fraud by tightening up voter ID requirements — you can no longer rely on your voter ID card, you must have valid identification with a current address and it is more difficult to have someone vouch for you if you don’t have proof of address.
But Hillary Beaumont with VICE News has spoken with groups like The Council of Canadians which are afraid students, seniors in care homes, indigenous voters on reserves and people who are homeless are being disenfranchised by the new rules.
They have argued tens of thousands of Canadians could be prevented from casting ballots in the upcoming Oct. 19 election, simply because they will have a tough time proving where they currently live.
“It seems like the Fair Elections Act will potentially suppress those votes,” Beaumont tells NEWS 1130. “I don’t know whether that is the intention or not but the Council of Canadians and the Canadian Federation of Students have argued it would.”
The groups had applied for an interim injunction against the new voter ID rules, but it was denied by the Ontario Superior Court earlier this month. The judge said he would revisit the issue when a full application could be heard in court, something there was not time for ahead of the fall election.
But Beaumont argues it isn’t just certain segments of the population being marginalized — the Fair Election Act could also cause problems for anyone who has recently moved.
“I mean, I’m actually worried about this,” adds Beaumont. “I moved two months ago and the address on my driver’s licence isn’t current. I’m a little concerned I’m going to have to get updated ID because I won’t be able to use my voter identification card now. Anyone who doesn’t have current ID should probably look into the new voter requirements now and not later. If you show up on Election Day without any ID that has a current address, you might the face the problem of not being able to cast a ballot.”
With the writ potentially dropping for the fall election as early as this weekend, you can catch our live stream of the Macleans leader’s debate at 5pm on Thursday August 6th at NEWS1130.com, and watch it live on City and OMNI.