This week, Brent and I take on one particular change to the Election Amendment act that all political parties in BC support:
Should a list of all people who voted in B.C. elections be provided to political parties?
When I read about the proposed amendments to the Election Act in a Facebook post by pro-democracy government watchdog IntegrityBC, I was stunned. Why? Because in the famous Apollo 13 message: “Houston, we’ve had a problem here.”
This famous line sums up the state of politics in British Columbia precisely. When it comes to voting in provincial elections, we’ve had a big problem for decades.
On average, only around half of registered voters actually do so, and looking back at statistics, it’s a sorry tale of declining turnouts that speaks to voter apathy and growing cynicism with politics in general. Somehow political parties in B.C. now think that being provided with a list of who actually voted in the last election is going to help them engage voters and get the vote out – I strongly suspect it will have the opposite effect.
That voters were left out of this process tells me how out of touch political parties really are in addressing this voter apathy. Party members have defended this amendment to me in conversations by saying party scrutineers already keep track of who voted at the polls – a fact many readers I’ve spoken with were unaware of.
Read Brent Stafford’s column here.
While how you voted would still be protected, the list of people who actually turned up at the polls would be available to any registered political party in the province. As IntegrityBC pointed out recently, there are 23 registered parties here and it only takes two people to form one. Anyone can see the potential hotbed of issues that could arise from having access to a list of who voted – or didn’t.
That’s why I’m watching closely to see how provincial MLAs react to privacy commissioner Elizabeth Denham’s letter to Attorney General and Justice Minster Suzanne Anton. The Ministry of Justice has already issued a statement saying it doesn’t intend to withdraw the amendment, leaving any opposition to this up to individual MLAs. And while Anton has stated she is open to the chief electoral officer potentially drafting regulations on the use of this info, it’s my view the amendment allowing this list to be released should be dropped completely.
If political parties really wanted to address voter apathy and cynicism, putting the interests of the people before their own would be a good place to start.
Vote and read the comments HERE: http://vancouver.24hrs.ca/2015/04/19/the-duel-bill-20-too-intrusive