Elimination of Voter ID card status could leave thousands disenfranchised at polls, groups say
Rule changes made a year ago by the Harper government make it much harder for many Canadians to prove their identity at polling stations
Denying people a chance to use voter identification cards as valid ID on the polls could disenfranchise thousands of eligible voters within the upcoming federal election, advocacy groups warned essential Thursday.
The Council of Canadians along with the Canadian Federation of Students are trying to find an interim injunction against an important voter identification provision from the Fair Elections Act, passed this past year.
The Harper government made changes to voter identification rules recently out of concern over voter fraud. The organizations want Canada’s chief electoral officer so that you can authorize voter identification cards as valid ID, an energy that was taken away from the act.
Without a voter identification card, voters have to have a piece of photo ID using their current address or two bits of ID, one that has a photo and one using a current address.
“At least within the tens of thousands couldn't survive able to vote simply because they wouldn’t have accessibility to those two separate components of identification,” Maude Barlow, national chairperson to the Council of Canadians, said beyond the Ontario Superior Court of Justice.
A constitutional challenge on the act is within the works, but that won’t happen until as soon as the next election. The council along with the federation want the injunction so individuals who need to use the voter identification cards will be competent to this fall.
Speaking for both groups, lawyer Steven Shrybman said excluding the voter identification cards as valid ID can certainly make it more challenging for certain teams of Canadians to vote. Young people, students, seniors, homeless people and aboriginal people living on reserves use a harder time meeting the ID requirements simply because have difficulty getting ID using current address, he was quoted saying.
Pierre Poilievre, Conservative minister accountable for democratic reform said in the statement that we now have 39 recognized items of ID “easily attainable” beneath the act, however the council disagrees likely easy to get.
“If you’re a person who’s left home so you don’t have that identification, if you’re a senior who not drives, if you’re a senior who’s gone to a residence . . . I personally are conscious of many people who wouldn’t gain access to those items of identification,” Barlow said.
Other than the usual driver’s licence, very few components of ID get an address, Shrybman said. He argued the Voter ID verification and identification card technique is simplest because Elections Canada registers eligible voters by door-to-door without requiring website visitors to attain an ID having a current address.
“It doesn’t get any easier than that,” he explained. “The government’s responsibility is usually to facilitate, to not interfere with voting.”
Some 400,000 Canadians used the voter identification cards inside the 2011 election in a pilot project that Elections Canada planned to expand towards the whole country.