Wednesday, June 22, 2005


Underbelly News
Downtown Eastside


After hearing that Councillor Tim Stevenson isn't satisfied with our political process and the final results of the Vancouver-Burrard race in which he was unsuccessful, he now plans to seek court remedy to challenge it and I suppose overturn the election result and in the process, petition for a by-election.

His action is a result of believing that Elections Canada made a mistake and therefore the final judicial results were not fair or representative of the outcome, at least in the Vancouver-Burrard race. Mr Stevenson goes on to present that approximately 70 unopened ballots were not counted because an electoral official didn't sign off on these ballots which were sealed. These ballots were from individuals who voted outside their polling place or by affidavit vote. Further he believe these votes would have gone in his favor.

While Mr Stevenson may think it unfair that these votes were not counted and while I may also question whether these ballots are reflective of the one person one vote rule, my reasons are somewhat different from Mr Stevenson's. Plus I wonder if he would have the same opinion if say the ballots came from an area which predominantly supported Lorne Mayencourt? My feeling is No he probably wouldn't. However again that just might be the cynic in me espousing this.

Mr Stevenson's answer might well be Yes he would still follow through on the same premise because not counting all votes infringes on the fundamental right of every individual to have an equal voice when it comes to our electoral system. The one vote-one person rule is in place to prevent abuses or corruption. If certain ballots are not counted, Tim Stevenson questions than whether our election process is fair?

Following Mr Stevenson's logic let's travel that route.

My understanding is that our votes are private and if someone isn't on the voters list, a person still has the right to vote. Conceivably an unregistered voter could go around to a few different polling stations in the same riding and vote for the same candidate more than once.

I'll use an example of an individual with the name Jamie Lee of the Downtown area who has no fixed address. Jamie Lee without identification can vote by swearing an affidavit.This is good is some peoples minds because it allows everyone the right including Jamie Lee to vote. However, it could also spell disaster if Jamie Lee goes to another polling place and changes her name to Lee James and swears an affadavit that she only voted once. How would we know otherwise if Jamie Lee or Lee James only voted once? Because at two different polling places she can present as two different people. There is no safeguard in place to prevent this abuse from happening.

I then pose is this fair?

Well most of us would have grave concerns over this. We like to think most people are honest enough in society but our experiences tell us that anyone can tell a fib or lie to get what it is they want. Most people choose not to do this but saying we are all homogenous in this regard is like saying Santa Claus treats all children the same.

Progressive people most likely in turn would say we are attacking the poor if we do not allow affidavit voting. We are kicking poor people when they are down and out would be the chorus of voices. They will also say it is the poor and disenfranchised who are most likely not on the voters list. This may be true but I'm not certain it actually is. I think a far greater number of people who are not poor or disenfranchised choose not to put themselves on the voters list or vote because they have come to the conclusion that politicians don't represent them and that the one vote one person rule is blatantly unfair since it doesn't properly reflect the democratic will of the people. Use the Vancouver-Burrard race for example where only 30 percent of registered voters who actually voted. Yet Mr Stevenson still desired to have this system in place. I didn't hear Mr Stevenson championing electoral reform either.

But be as this may, I believe all people still do have the right to vote. All they need to do is get on the voters list. While this may mean having to pre-register that is in my opinion the rule we should stick to and live by.

Allowing different tiers of voting creates the potential for abuse and or corruption and this should never be allowed.

Our registration system may not be perfect but so far it is the only system available to us which prevents abuses.

To assist those who are homeless, I recommend that we compile a list supplied by our City of Vancouver homeless co-ordinator and put these citizens on our election rolls.
At least this improves the ability for those who are homeless to have the right to vote.

And ultimately Councillor Stevenson whatever the courts decide, you too need to reflect on the matter of fairness. The court will decide your fate, but it is the public who will pay the cost. Not really much different than many of your unfair policy positions is it Councillor Tim?

Jamie Lee Hamilton