At the core of our democracy is trust in the election system. Yet in many ways, the election system is like a black box. We are expected to trust the system, but that trust is based on the ability to verify. Now there is an opportunity to do this. Maybe.
We have put together a list of 25 items relating to the 2014 civic election in Vancouver that merit further public scrutiny. We encourage citizens to write or speak to Council it this topic grabs you. Sample text of an e-mail is at bottom.
As we have reported separately (in “Council meetings, the week of Jan 19, 2015“), a motion by Councillor George Affleck goes before City Council on January 20 requesting the City staff to report to Council on a “Review of the 2014 City of Vancouver civic election” (click for full text).
In no particular order, here is our initial list of 25 issues (some confirmed, some not) that were reported publicly or privately, or that we heard about somehow from various sources. For each one, people may wonder how they may have skewed the election outcomes. (If you have any comment, evidence, or experience to share please send us an e-mail to citizenYVR@gmail.com, or add to the public comments below.)
- Electronic voter/voting data system was brand new in 2014. Need a public review/report of the system’s performance.
- First time anyone could vote at any voting station. How did that turn out?
- Shortage of advance polling stations in East Vancouver. Analysis of reasons, and possible impacts on voting outcomes.
- Misleading address information for polling stations was sent to voters in Voter Information Cards
- Voters were permitted to vote without having to show identification at polling station
- Some people received voter cards not addressed to them, and with no ID required, anyone could have voted with those cards.
- Voting machines not functioning correctly. How many problems were there?
- 1069 Musqueam First Nations voters initially did not receive voter cards
- Some ballots were not secret (ballots were exposed to anyone near optical reader) – due to voting machine glitches
- Election sign bylaw enforcement NOT consistent, timely, or equitable
- Extension of voting hours. Were there any irregularities or unfair advantages?
- Shortage of ballots at voting stations
- “Plan Your Vote” online on City website. How secure were voter choices?
- Long waits at some polling stations resulted in some people giving up and not voting.
- Lack of arrangements for persons with disabilities
- Ballots of 593 persons were rejected due to “over votes” on the City Council race, a huge jump from 159 in 2011. What is the explanation for this?
- 2014 Voter Guide provided insufficient information to voter
- Candidate video hosting on City website cancelled. Unfair advantage to incumbents.
- Voter cards arrived late. For some people AFTER the election.
- City staff appear to have been actively working on incumbent politicians’ election campaign
- Election signs placed within 100 meters of voting place
- Candidates/parties placed signs on private property without owners’ permission
- What proof does the public have that no candidates benefited by exploitation of City data
- Role of third-party organizations in election. Did all candidates comply with legislation?
- Impersonating Elections Canada personnel. Reports came in to this effect.
The public has no limit on what it can ask for, though in the text of the motion Councillor Affleck probably faced constraints as an elected official currently in office. The motion specifically asks… That staff report back to Council to:
(a) Present any official list of public enquiries submitted to the City of Vancouver regarding the 2014 civic election; and (b) Clarify processes and procedures during the 2014 City of Vancouver Civic Election and the role of Elections BC.
If you as a voter have any concerns based on your personal experience of the 2014 election, you may wish to write or speak to City Council. If so, we encourage you to e-mail Council (firstname.lastname@example.org) your written comments BEFORE the Jan 20 meeting and if you can, sign up to speak (speakers would likely be on January 21). Present your concerns about the election processes and procedures, and indicate what you want the staff to investigate and report on.
Dear Mayor and Vancouver City Council,
I am writing regarding the motion before Council on January 20, 2015, entitled ” “Review of the 2014 City of Vancouver civic election.”
I support this motion, and wish to share my experience. [Provide a few details, evidence, etc. Outline your concerns. What was good, what was bad, what should be improved? What answers do you want?]
I would like to see these topics added to the review and report back to Council. I also recommend that a specific deadline be assigned, as this is a timely matter and the information should be made public before too much time passes after the election.
Request to speak to Council re motion #3 Jan 20 Regular Council
To: Kazakoff, Laura <email@example.com>; Ludwig, Nicole <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Subject: Request to speak to Council re motion #3 Jan 20 Regular Council
Dear Laura and Nicole,
Please accept this as notice of my request to speak to City Council regarding this item on January 20:
#3. Review of the 2014 City of Vancouver Civic Election PDF
If Council will accept speakers, please let me know my speaker number, plus date and time.