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Canada and BC have Abandoned the Right to Vote of Citizens Without Fixed Residences PDF Print E-mail
Justice News
Friday, 16 May 2008 02:24

2008 May 16

Canada and BC have Abandoned the Right to Vote of Citizens Without Fixed Residences

PEJ News - Joan Russow, Global Compliance Research Project - At meetings of the registered federal party representatives, the Former Chief Electoral Officer of Canada was concerned about assuring that all citizens have the unconditional right to vote guaranteed under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

In 2007, the “New” Conservative Government introduced amendments that would violated this Charter right, and in 2008, in its proposed Bill 42, the BC government has followed the Federal government’s lead

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CHARTER GUARANTEED RIGHT TO VOTE

Under the section 3, Democratic Rights, Under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, the right to vote is affirmed:

“ 3. Every citizen of Canada has the right to vote in an election of members of the House of Commons or of a legislative assembly and to be qualified for membership therein.”

This right is an unconditional right, of Canadian citizens, independent of whether Canadian citizens have or have not a permanent residence

In 2007, The New Conservative federal government introduced revisions in the Elections act that would impact on the registration of citizens without a residence.

I can remember when I attended in 2001, the All-party consultation process with the Chief Electoral officer. An issue was raised that there was not an effective way of ensuring that the homeless could be guaranteed their right to vote, and that there had to be measures in place to ensure the exercise of that vote. Different proposals were made by the different political parties including setting up a voter registration centre in the downtown areas where there could be an active campaign to register voters, and to find ways of registering citizens that were in various shelters without fixed residence. The Former Chief Electoral Officer, Jean Pierre Kingsley, expressed genuine concern about ensuring all citizens their right to vote.

CHANGES IN THE FEDERAL ELECTIONS ACT REQUIRING PROOF OF RESIDENCE

In 2007, the “new” conservative government amended the Canada Elections Act in the following way:

An Act to amend the Canada Elections Act (verification of residence) (formerly Bill C-18) received royal assent on December 14, 2007.

This legislation amends the Canada Elections Act to allow an elector or voucher who provides a piece of identification that does not prove his or her residence to use that piece of identification to prove his or her residence provided that the address on the piece of identification is consistent with information related to the elector or voucher that appears on the list of electors."

Amendments to the Canada Elections Act
Elections Canada: Electoral Law, Policy and Research: Federal Electoral & Referendum Legislation: Federal Electoral Legislation

An Act to amend the Canada Elections Act and the Public Service Employment Act (formerly Bill C-31) received royal assent on June 22, 2007. The following are highlights of the amendments brought to the Canada Elections Act by Bill C-31:

"Before voting, electors must prove their identity and residential address by providing one piece of government-issued photo identification showing their name and residential address, or two pieces of identification authorized by the Chief Electoral Officer of Canada, each of which establishes their name and at least one of which establishes their residential address. To vote, an elector may instead take an oath and be vouched for by another elector whose name is on the list of electors for the same polling division, and who has the necessary piece(s) of identification to establish his or her identity and residential address.

Operational changes have been adopted to improve the accuracy of the National Register of Electors, facilitate voting and enhance communications with the electorate."

PROPOSED CHANGES IN THE BC LIBERAL GOVERNMENT ACT

Under Bill 42, the BC Liberal Government has parroted the federal act
8 Section 41 (3) is repealed and the following substituted:
(3) For the purposes of subsection (2) (b), an applicant may produce to the election official
(a) one document, issued by the Government of British Columbia or Canada, that contains the applicant's name and photograph, and place of residence,
(b) one document, issued by the Government of Canada, that certifies that the applicant is registered as an Indian under the Indian Act (Canada), or
(c) at least 2 documents of a type authorized by the chief electoral officer, both of which contain the applicant's name and at least one of which contains the applicant's place of residence.
(3.1) The chief electoral officer must publish each year, in a manner that he or she considers appropriate, a notice setting out the types of documents that are authorized for the purposes of subsection (3) (c).
Registration in conjunction with voting if no identification documents
41.1 (1) In this section, "voucher" means a person, other than the applicant, referred to in subsection (2).
(2) Despite section 41, an applicant who is unable to produce the documents referred to in section 41 (3) may be registered as a voter in conjunction with voting if
(a) the applicant delivers an application form completed in accordance with section 35 to the district electoral officer or an election official authorized by the district electoral officer, and
(b) both the identity and place of residence of the applicant are confirmed in accordance with subsection (3) of this section by
(i) a voter registered in the applicant's electoral district of residence who has produced documents referred to in section 41 (3),
(ii) a spouse, a parent, a grandparent, or an adult child, grandchild or sibling, of the applicant, or
(iii) a person having authority under the common law or an enactment to make personal care decisions in respect of the applicant.
(3) The applicant and the voucher must each make a solemn declaration, in writing, as to the applicant's identity and place of residence within the meaning of section 32, and stating all of the following:
(a) in the case of the applicant,
(i) that the applicant meets all the qualifications to be registered as a voter of the electoral district, and
(ii) the matters set out in section 111 (4) (b) to (e);
(b) in the case of a voucher described in subsection (2) (b) (i),
(i) that the voucher is a person described in subsection (2) (b) (i), and
(ii) the matters set out in section 111 (4) (b) to (d);
(c) in the case of a voucher described in subsection (2) (b) (ii) or (iii),
(i) that the voucher is a person described in subsection (2) (b) (ii) or (iii), as applicable, and setting out the nature of the relationship to the applicant, and
(ii) the matters set out in section 111 (4) (d).
(4) A voucher may make a confirmation under subsection (3) in the same election,
(a) if the voucher is a voucher described in subsection (2) (b) (i), in respect of only one applicant,
(b) if the voucher is a voucher described in subsection (2) (b) (ii), in respect of only one or more applicants who are members of the voucher's family, or
(c) if the voucher is a voucher described in subsection (2) (b) (iii), in respect of only one or more applicants for whom the voucher has authority as described in that subsection.
(5) A person who has been confirmed under subsection (3) may not confirm another applicant at the same election.
(6) The election official receiving an application must
(a) advise both the applicant and the voucher of
(i) the requirements of this section, and
(ii) the penalties for which the applicant and the voucher may be liable for a contravention of those requirements, and
(b) note on the application that a confirmation was made for the purposes of registration.

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Last Updated on Tuesday, 28 July 2015 18:01
 

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