Letters to the Editor

LETTER - Government just protecting voters' rights

Editor:

Re: Voting is your Canadian right, April 3 Chilliwack Times.

While the president of the Liberal Riding Association, Louis De Jaeger, didn’t address it in his letter to the editor, the truth is there is a problem with both vouching and the voter ID cards in federal elections.

An Elections Canada compliance report found, “Serious errors, of a type the courts consider ‘irregularities’ that can contribute to an election being overturned, were found to occur in 12 per cent of all Election Day cases involving voter registration, and 42 per cent of cases involving identity vouching.”

An election result overturned by the courts would invalidate every legitimate ballot cast in that election robbing eligible voters of their right to exercise their franchise. This should be of great concern to everyone who claims they are interested protecting “one of the basic rights of Canadians”.

Voting is a basic right but it does come with requirements including citizenship, age and residency. While we all want “to increase citizen participation by getting more people out to vote,” we want to ensure that the votes cast meet the strict requirements Canadians have agreed to.

That is why the Fair Elections Act will require voters to prove who they are and where they live when they are voting. Voters will be able to do so using 39 separate pieces of ID which include everything from a drivers’ licence to a student card.

The Fair Elections Act also recognizes the failure of Elections Canada’s recent promotional campaigns. Since the Elections Canada promotional campaigns began in 1993 voter turnout has fallen from 75 per cent to 61 per cent. Youth participation has fallen 20 per cent since 1984.

That is why the Fair Elections Act will see Elections Canada return to informing citizens of the basics of voting: where, when and what ID to bring; and to ensure disabled people know of the extra tools available to help them vote (such as wheelchair ramps, sign language services, Braille services for the visually impaired, for example).

While the Liberals may choose to ignore these challenges, the Conservative government is working to enhance our electoral laws and protect the integrity of every ballot.

Mark Strahl, MP

Chilliwack-Fraser Canyon

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