Injunction Sought to Allow use of Voter Identification Cards, Vouching in Federal Election

The CBC reports this morning that a coalition of groups seeking an injunction which would allow voters to continue to use the voter identification card and the vouching procedure for the purposes of identification.

The Council of Canadians, the Canadian Federation of Students, and three individual voters have filed a factum seeking the injunction in the Ontario Superior Court.

The Fair Elections Act eliminated the option of using the notice of confirmation of registration (commonly known as a voter identification card) as an acceptable piece of identification people can use to prove their identity and residence in order to receive a ballot.

It also replaced the vouching provision where a voter who could prove their own identity and residence could vouch for another voter who could not, and replaced it with a modified provision where someone could only vouch to another persons residence (but not their identity).

The current voter identification rules require voter who do not have a single document that contains a photograph of the elector and his or her name and address (like a drivers licence) to prove their identity and residence by producing two documents of the type authorized by the Chief Electoral Officer (CEO), each of which establishes the elector’s name and at least one of which establishes the elector’s address. While the Elections Act prohibits the CEO from authorizing the VIC as one of these two documents, this restriction would be removed if the injunction is granted, and voters could continue to use the VIC as one of these two acceptable pieces of ID for the 2015 election.

Under the new “vouching” provisions, voters will still have to prove their identity with two pieces of ID. If they can’t prove their residence with these two pieces of ID, they can then have their residence vouched for by a voter in the same polling division who has proved their own identity and residence. The injunction would restore the previous system of vouching for the 2015 election, so that people who can not prove their identity can still vote if they are vouched for.

The outcome of this application will make a major difference on how voters can prove their identification and residence for the upcoming federal election, which is a balance between safeguarding the right to vote and the integrity of the election. Voter advocates as well as Elections Canada will be anticipating the result so that public awareness campaigns on what ID you need to vote can begin.

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