January 23, 2007 13:04 ET
Commissioner of Canada Elections Finds No Wrongdoing in Federal Vote Held in Edmonton Centre
OTTAWA, ONTARIO--(CCNMatthews - Jan. 23, 2007) - The Office of the Commissioner of Canada Elections announced today that it has completed its investigation into alleged voting irregularities in the 39th general election held on January 23, 2006, in the electoral district of Edmonton Centre (Alberta).
News reports at the time alleged that non-residential addresses had appeared on voters lists in the riding, allowing a large number of electors who lived in another electoral district to vote in Edmonton Centre with the intention of affecting the outcome of the vote.
The Office of the Commissioner considered that there were three possible offences under the Canada Elections Act, depending on the factual circumstances in any given case. These were paragraph 111(c), wilfully applying to be included on a list of electors for a polling division where the elector is not ordinarily resident, paragraph 281(d), knowingly applying for a ballot or special ballot to which the person is not entitled, and paragraphs 281(c) and (e), knowingly making a false statement in an application for special ballot or in a declaration signed before a deputy returning officer.
The investigation sought to identify electors who were improperly registered to vote in Edmonton Centre under non-residential addresses and who actually voted there. It identified 93 electors as being on a list of electors at what appeared to be non-residential or business addresses and as having voted. Investigators used interviews to gather information on most of these electors. About one third of them had voted properly because they lived at the listed address or nearby, or they were transient and had used the only address they had. Another 20 had voted in the correct electoral district but in the wrong polling division.
Therefore, 21 electors of the 93 were from outside Edmonton Centre but had voted there. Almost all had received a voter information card listing a business address in Edmonton Centre. Further analysis indicated that the addresses of these 21 electors had been updated in the National Register of Electors based on information that they had provided to the Canada Revenue Agency or the Alberta Registrar of Motor Vehicle Services. Therefore, none of these electors wilfully or knowingly registered to vote in the wrong electoral district, and none were found to have voted twice. The Commissioner's investigation did not reveal any link among these electors that would suggest that they had acted in an organized manner.
On election day, electors listed at potential non-residential addresses, including these 21, were highlighted on the lists of electors, and election officers obtained proof of residence from these electors before they voted. In all likelihood, a driver's licence showing a non-residential address would have met this requirement.
Since this matter came to light, Elections Canada has taken measures to prevent electors from being listed at non-residential addresses. However, there is no authoritative list of non-residential addresses that can be used for comparative purposes. Elections Canada is using available databases, including property assessment files, telephone files and data from Canada Post Corporation, to add to its list of non-residential addresses. This activity will be complemented with the local knowledge of returning officers. Letters will also be written to electors listed at potential non-residential addresses, asking them to submit a residential address. Additional sources of non-residential addresses are also being pursued with partners such as Statistics Canada, the Canada Revenue Agency and Canada Post. While these initiatives will reduce the number of electors listed at non-residential addresses, it cannot eliminate it entirely because some addresses will continue to have a mix of residential and commercial uses.
Based on the results of this investigation, the Commissioner considers the reported public concern - that large numbers of electors voted in the wrong electoral district (Edmonton Centre) with the intention of affecting the result of the vote in that district - to be unfounded. The difference in the number of votes received by the candidates who placed first and second at the election was 3,609 valid votes cast.
The Commissioner of Canada Elections is the independent officer whose duty is to ensure that the Canada Elections Act is complied with and enforced.