“How can a First Nations community have over a 100% turnout for this (Federal) election? Is this Banana Republic? Someone is cheating!”
And NewsTalk Radio in Saskatchewan weighs in as judge and jury and guilt is assigned….
This is what happened to our federal campaign in 2006. We went to bed election night with an electoral victory and we woke up the next morning accused as electoral cheaters.
Some political pundits, commentators and the losing political party delved into nefarious and underhanded theories as to why the Indigenous vote increased in our riding so drastically. The major concern emerged around the fact that more First Nations people voted than were on the Elections Canada Electoral list and way more voted than in the last election.
“How could this be?” they asked.
As I have written before, the enumeration process has been flawed for decades and drastically under-represents the actual eligible voting population on a reserve.
During our campaign we understood this reality. When we visited communities, we spent time with volunteers to compare the Elections Canada list to the Band List of people over the age of 18 eligible to vote.
The next challenge was to provide advice as to how to register to vote if they were not on the electoral list. Our campaign provided a list of Identification required to verify identity and residence.
We also pointed out that the electoral clout of the community was significant, as they could determine the outcome by choosing who would represent them. I told people and communities to exercise their right to vote, even if they didn’t vote for me.
At the end of the day, a lot of people showed up to register to vote who were not on the original electoral list, but still got to vote legally by providing the necessary proof of identity and residency.
I remember in one community that about 400 people voted in the previous federal election but the potential eligible voters in that community was close to triple that number. If people show up with their proper identification or are vouched for under the new rules, they can vote even if they are not on the Elections Canada electoral list.
This is a scary prospect for political parties and candidates in approximately 52 ridings across Canada.
In the near future, I will I post a link explaining how you can ensure your right to vote is protected.