No more federal voter cards

People who want to vote in Canada’s next election will no longer be able to use the voter information cards they get in the mail, if the Fair Elections Act gets through.

The legislation, now being poured over by a committee after receiving second reading in the House of Commons, says people will be required to show two pieces of ID, one showing the voter’s name and one showing his or her address.

As well, people will no longer be allowed to vouch for the identify of another voter.

According to the federal NDP, that will mean about 120,000 people will be turned away at the polls.

Surveys from the last election showed there were “significant irregularities” from both scenarios, said Pitt Meadows-Maple Ridge-Mission MP Randy Kamp.

In addition, under the new legislation, people will have a range of identification that they can use at the polls.

“The intent is to list 39 pieces of valid ID, which is quite a broad list that you can choose from, to be sure that elections are fair,” Kamp said.

According to the government’s website, media reports show that using voter information cards can lead to fraud at the polls.

The NDP had raised concerns about students being unable to vote, but student ID cards are one of the pieces allowed, Kamp added.

“We’ve tried to make it as inclusive as possible so as not to restrict people who want to validly vote,” Kamp said Thursday.

The committee will also look at modifying the list of acceptable identification.

According to the federal NDP, changes to the act make it more difficult for seniors, students, aboriginal and poor people to prove their right to vote.

The NDP also says the bill doesn’t give Elections Canada the power to investigate electoral fraud, such as what happened during the “robocalls” scandal of the 2011 election, in which voters were misdirected to polls.

But Kamp says moving the commissioner of elections to the government’s prosecutions office will give it more power.

“It is an investigation function. He’ll have the power to investigate all that goes on during the election. The legislation also gives him a little more power, a little more reach, more independence. I don’t have a problem with that.”

One criticism is that government is removing Election Canada’s powers to promote voter participation in election. Kamp, though, says the legislation tries to say that Elections Canada’s main role is to tell people where and how to vote. Nevertheless, that section may be up for review.

“It think the government is open to hearing suggestions.”

Individual campaign donation limits have also been raised to $1,500, while union and corporate donations continue to be banned.


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