Current voter ID rules still in play for byelection

By: Ian Tennant

  |  Posted: Wednesday, May 21, 2014 06:00 am

Larry Ashmore, the Green Party candidate
Larry Ashmore, the Green Party candidate
File photo

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The House of Commons' passage of the controversial Fair Elections Act on May 13 will not affect voters in the June 30 Macleod byelection.

Jo Ann Partaker, the acting returning officer for the Macleod riding, confirmed May 15 that the act, or Bill C-23, will not impact the byelection to replace Conservative MP Ted Menzies, who retired to join the private sector.

The act passed third reading in the House of Commons on May 13 and will be sent to the Senate where the Conservative majority is expected to pass it. The act is expected to become law in June and would come into effect for the next federal election, anticipated for 2015.

Bill C-23 and the federal minister trying to get it passed, Pierre Poilievre, faced a storm of criticism, primarily over plans to tighten voter identification rules.

Partaker emphasized the new voter ID rules do not apply to the June 30 byelection, and that voters can visit for more information on what kind of ID is required to be able to vote.

The first option is to show picture ID, such as a driver's licence with a current address that is not a box number. Option 2 allows a voter to produce two pieces of authorized information, such as a health card and a power bill, that bear your name but one piece must have a current address.

The final option calls for a voter to take an oath and have another local voter (or elector) vouch for that person's identity. That elector can only vouch for one person, have authorized identification and be voting in the same polling division as the person she or he vouched for.

It is this third option, called “vouching”, that the initial draft of Bill C-23 tried to eliminate. Intense criticism followed from the public, opposition MPs, the media, and from the former and current chief electoral officers who maintained that eliminating vouching would disenfranchise voters who simply don't have picture ID, which was one per cent, or 120,000 voters, in the 2011 election.

The Fair Elections Act will still kill the vouching option but it also introduces an oath system. A voter with ID but no verification of a current address can sign an oath regarding his or her address. A second voter, with valid ID, must also sign an oath confirming the first voter's address.

Regarding the Macleod byelection, Partaker said voter identification cards would be mailed out within a couple of weeks to people on the voter list. Those cards contain information on where to vote.

A resident who is not certain if she or he is on the voter list should visit the polling office set up at the Okotoks Elks Club. The office, upstairs at the Elks Club, is open from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday to Friday, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Saturday, and from noon to 4 p.m. on Sunday.

Advance poll dates will be held June 20, June 21, and June 23.

“We expect them to be busy,” said Partaker, because the June 30 election day falls before the July 1 Canada Day holiday.

The advance polls will be open from noon to 8 p.m.

Candidates are required to schedule a meeting with the local returning officer to formally confirm their intentions. The nomination process closes June 9.

Running to replace Menzies in the House of Commons are Okotoks residents John Barlow for the Conservatives and Dustin Fuller for the Liberals. Larry Ashmore, from the Turner Valley-Black Diamond area, will represent the Green Party, while Aileen Burke, from Lethbridge, will be flying the New Democratic Party's banner.

The Macleod byelection is one of four that will be held June 30, including Fort McMurray-Athabasca in northern Alberta and two in the Toronto area.


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