Home / BCCLA criticizes new voter ID requirements as disenfranchising vulnerable people.

BCCLA criticizes new voter ID requirements as disenfranchising vulnerable people.

The B.C. Civil Liberties Association is attacking the federal government’s proposed plan to amend the Canada Elections Act to require identification from voters at the polls. Bill C-31 will require Canadians to produce ID in order to vote in federal elections. Those without ID would be able to swear an oath that they are eligible but must have another voter who has the required ID to vouch for them.

BCCLA President Jason Gratl: “Replacing lost or stolen identification is a cumbersome administrative hassle. Canadians who lack the wherewithal to replace or obtain photo identification should not be punished with disenfranchisement. Unless there is significant evidence of potential voter fraud, election officials should use the least onerous method to establish voter status.”

The BCCLA opposes the amendments because they will disenfranchise the most vulnerable and
voiceless in society from making their mark at the polls on election day. We expect the legislation to disenfranchise homeless and transient persons who have no fixed addresses and no identification.

Jean-Pierre Kingsley, Canada’s Chief Electoral Officer has testified before the Parliamentary
committee that there is no evidence of fraud that would justify the changes: “I have no evidence that would lead me to believe that there has been any fraud in this country, based on the testimony heard. I have no evidence.”

The BCCLA proposes that individuals without ID should be able to swear that they are eligible
to vote using a statutory declaration, a legal instrument that was successfully used during the last federal election in Vancouver with approval by the deputy returning officer. If anything, our government should take steps to encourage the less fortunate to participate with dignity in the political process.

The BCCLA will be appearing today before the Standing Committee on Procedure and House
Affairs to testify and oppose the amendments in Bill C-31.