CityHallWatch writes Elections BC with concerns about integrity of Vancouver civic election 2014

Elections BC logo(Updated Nov 18, 2014. Response received from Elections BC — see bottom. Main point: “Elections BC has no authority or role in the administration of local elections.”)

CityHallWatch sent this message to Elections BC (http://www.elections.bc.ca/) and Vancouver’s Chief Election Officer at 1:30 pm on Vancouver’s civic election day.

The public faces an uphill battle in pursuing concerns with a civic election in Vancouver. The first point of contact to resolve issues is the Chief Election Officer, who happens to be an employee of the City. How can she be independent? Next up if a case is escalated is the Vancouver Police Department. Guess who chairs the Vancouver Police Board? Mayor Gregor Robertson. The closer you look, the more serious the problems in Vancouver’s civic system.

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November 15, 2014
Keith Archer, Ph.D., Chief Electoral Officer

cc. Janice MacKenzie, Chief Election Officer, Vancouver

We are writing to register concerns about the integrity of the 2014 civic election in Vancouver.

We know that in 2011 election there was a confirmed violation by the incumbent party of election sign regulations, and numerous technical problems with the voting machines. Not a word of these incidents was mentioned in the Chief Election Officer’s report to Vancouver City Council for that election. The public and media never heard a word about them either.

For the 2014 civic election in Vancouver, we have observed many cases that give us concern about the integrity of this election, and are writing you today, for the record, for later followup. We can provide documentation on several of these items in due course. We hope that you will look into them.

1. Election signs: Enforcement of bylaws has been arbitrary, inconsistent

2. Electronic voter/voting data: The City chose not to conduct a privacy audit when selecting the contractor, and we are not convinced that adequate systems are in place to prevent exploitation of data for political purposes.

3. Addresses for voting places on voter information cards wrong: In numerous instances, the addresses indicated on information sheets mailed out to voters are not the closest locations. This could result in voter disenfranchisement.

4. Plan Your Vote (online, city website), data security: Voters are encouraged to click on their selections and print them out to bring to the voting place. The public has no assurance that this data will not be exploited. IP addresses could be stored, along with selections, on City servers.

5. Thin wall between databases of incumbent party and City Hall: In more than one case, we know that the incumbent party has “harvested” data from petitions to contact citizens. The public has no assurance that personal data did not end up into the database of the incumbent party. Likewise, the public has no way of knowing about about the separation of data between some contractors, such as the firm Vision Critical (which provides “Talk Vancouver” public survey/consultation services online under contract with the City of Vancouver), and the incumbent party.

6. Voting without being required to show identification – In some instances, people have been permitted to vote without showing identification.

7. Candidate videos: Despite original plans to host candidate videos, the City abruptly cancelled the plans. If you analyze the situation, it is another of many examples that produce a bias in the election, favouring incumbents and the larger parties with the biggest budgets.

8. Candidate promotion/advertising on election day: We have heard reports that suggest banned activities have been occurring today.

These are just some of the concerns that have come to our attention. We would like to correspond with you after the election to address these in further detail.

Sincerely,
Randy Helten
Coordinator, CityHallatch Media Foundation

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Additional information …

We are receiving reports of more instances of irregularities and glitches. Will the City’s Chief Election Officer investigate them all to the public’s satisfactions?

  • Bob Mackin, investigative reporter, wrote about several problems here: Election 2014: Addressing the address issue: Were downtown condo dwellers misled about voting locations? Will it harm turnout of aged or disabled voters? (November 15, 2014) http://bobmackin.ca/?p=2108
  • The polling station at the Vancouver Aquatic Centre had a technical glitch for the first hour, making the voting cards roll up like an accordian. Reportedly, they were locked away for the day, for physical counting later. Was this done properly? Will it be included in the Chief Election Officer’s report to City Council?

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Response back from Elections BC, 3 pm, 18-Nov-2014

cc Janice MacKenzie, Chief Election Officer (Vancouver)

Thank you for your email of November 15, 2014.

Elections BC is the independent, non-partisan Office of the Legislature responsible for administering electoral processes in accordance with the Election Act, Recall and Initiative Act, Referendum Act, and Local Elections Campaign Financing Act. Elections BC has no authority or role in the administration of local elections in British Columbia.

Each municipality appoints a Chief Election Officer to administer local elections under the Local Government Act, which is not administered or under the authority of Elections BC.

Point #8 of your email falls under Elections BC’s authority, and Elections BC has followed up on all reported instances of election advertising that may not have been in compliance with the Local Elections Campaign Financing Act.

Sincerely,
Don Main
Communications Manager
Elections BC
Website: elections.bc.ca

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