They say every vote counts. But what if there were a way to manipulate election results almost effortlessly? If you have a favourite candidate who lost in this year's election, please pay special attention to the following. This is a step-by-step account of how our flawed system could have been exploited to commit fraud in the election.
Monday, June 28, 4:31 pm: I arrive at St. Vladimir, my designated voting station in the Trinity-Spadina riding. I moved within the last year and don't have an official election registration card. I speak with an Elections Canada operator earlier in the day who tells me all I need is proof of my current address and possibly some photo ID. I inform the polling station staff of my situation and begin to fill out an on-the-spot registration form. They don't ask me for proof of my current address, nor do they ask for any ID.
"I've seen you around," one of them tells me, assuring me that my familiar face will allow me to cast my ballot. After placing my X beside Olivia Chow's name, I stuff my ballot in the box and exit St. Vladimir. I've successfully exercised my right to vote. Suddenly, a light bulb appears above my head, and I wonder how easy it'd be to vote again at a different poll.
7:19 pm: I arrive at the poll at 452 College in Trinity-Spadina. Last year I lived in this area. I bring photo ID and my old T4 that displays my former street address. This is a different experience altogether, since these staff members actually have a list of registered voters. I tell them I'm not carrying my official registration card but my name should be on the list.
Three different employees scramble to find it; my name's not on any of the lists. I feel the jig is up, but I'm told "not to worry" because all I have to do is fill out a new registration form. I do so and receive a second ballot. I don't want to break the law, so I hand the ballot back and tell the young woman I don't want to vote any more. I also ask her to "unregister" me before exiting the building. Surely, I can't get away with this. Let's see how far I can go.
7:58 pm: I've heard that Elections Canada has set up a program allowing people with no fixed address to exercise their democratic right. Shelters are providing homeless citizens with special forms they can use at designated polling stations. I find this a wonderful example of Canada's democracy, but I can't fight my urge to see how deeply our system is flawed.
I ask a shelter volunteer if I can use the form to cast my ballot even if I live in an apartment. He says the system is set up by Elections Canada to provide every citizen with a chance to vote. He hands me a form and instructs me to head to 34 Oxford.
I suspect there's no way I'll be allowed to cast this ballot, but I need to know how deep the rabbit hole goes. The extremely bored-looking staff practically fight with each other to assist me. I simply hand the form to a young woman and say, "I was told I could vote with this."
She tells me I need to fill out a registration form but doesn't ask me for ID, proof of address or anything else to verify my name or identity. She hands me my third ballot and points to a booth behind her. I return the ballot and tell her I've changed my mind. "Whatever you say," she remarks.
The experience has left a bad taste in my mouth. Imagine if 100 people conspired to skew election results by heading to as many polls as they could. Elections Canada On-line assures us the verification of results is protected by the bar code on official registration cards, but there's nothing on the site about voters who don't have a card. There's no mention of cross-referencing to ensure the elimination of repeat voters.
Unless a losing candidate complains about the result, it's unlikely that voter fraud will be discovered. When I talk to Susan Copeland at Elections Canada, she tells me voting is set up on the "honour system.'
Of course, if there's anything we know about politics, it's that it's honourable.