"We can't allow things that are inaccurate to stand." — The Word of Our Dan, February 19, 2008.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Vote early, vote often?

And speaking of by-elections and the Elections Office... in what kind of banana republic does the elections office start publicising a by-election — in this case, Cape St. Francis — before it has even been called?

Oh yeah — that would be the same kind of banana republic where you can vote in a by-election before it's even been called.


At 6:05 PM, July 20, 2008 , Blogger Edward G. Hollett said...

As I noted at Bond Papers last fall, the special ballot advance voting provisions lead you to a really odd place.

At the time, I used the example of Paul Shelley who announced his resignation in the spring and put it into effect quietly in July.

The special ballot provisions say that one can vote by special ballot 30 days before the writ is dropped.

Now that doesn't mean the date on which it is actually dropped since, in most cases, that date is not known to even the elections office until it happens.

Consider that in a by-election the writ can drop at any point between when the seat is vacated and 60 days after that, being the maximum amount of time before the writ has to be dropped.

When you add this all up, in the case of Mr. Shelley, people could have legitimately sought the ballot to vote in a by-election before Mr. Shelley actually left office.

If he had announced the date on which he would depart, then it becomes even easier to vote before he actually departed. Were he to change his mind at the last minute, as he is entitled to do for good reason, you have a real mess.

You also create a situation in which some people might be privy to inside information about a departure date.

They could legitimately demand ballots at a certain date and there is no legal, legitimate means to refuse them ballots. There'd likely be some confusion at the OCEO but those of a sufficiently devious mind could engineer the situation using special ballots in such a way as to frustrate the basic notion of voters picking among identified individuals standing for election during an open contest, in which all voters have an equal opportunity to cast a vote. Mark Watton has dissected this idea beautifully.

And of course, the whole thing assumes voting based on party lines not according to the current practice across the country of voting for individuals. Voters are not legally able to cast votes under the special ballot provisions for independent (non-aligned) candidates.

This law is an abomination and it survives simply because no one has taken the time to challenge it in courts. They'd have a fairly easy time of having the provisions set aside.


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