31 August 2015

#30 My Game, My Rules

It must be 1984. There is a law that was adopted by the outgoing government called the “Fair Elections Act” that will make it more difficult for many people to vote, all based on the improbable premise that there might have been someone who voted without having the right to do so. There's no proof of this, of course, but the mere suggestion is sufficient to remove a practice (vouching, which allowed neighbours to confirm the identity of someone who turned up to vote without photo identification, or who doesn't actually have any such identification). Thousands of people used that possibility last election and now it is gone.

Other notable features of the law include limitations on the powers of the Chief Electoral Officer, who will now be prohibited from doing such radical things as encouraging people to vote and reporting irregularities in the conduct of candidates. When you consider that the party in power has had a certain number of infractions charged in the past, leading to fines, a jail sentence and one resignation of an MP, you have to wonder at the convenience of limiting the investigation and reporting powers of the non-partisan watchdog.

An additional plan of attack has been the budget allowed to this agency, which was cut to the point that certain other pilot projects to encourage voting — like online voting — are no longer possible. You have to wonder how it serves democracy to discourage voters from exercising their rights and tying the hands of the regulator who is supposed to ensure that the rules are followed.

We might need some international observers in October to document how things go wrong.

Further reading here and here.

If you want to vote
there are new hoops to jump through
while we run amok

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