The Office of the Commissioner of Canada Elections

October 25, 2006 14:50 ET

Commissioner of Canada Elections Finds no Wrongdoing in Federal Vote Held in Riding of Desnethe-Missinippi-Churchill River, Saskatchewan

OTTAWA, ONTARIO--(CCNMatthews - Oct. 25, 2006) - The Office of the Commissioner of Canada Elections has completed its investigation of complaints received in relation to the 39th general election held on January 23, 2006, in the electoral district of Desnethe-Missinippi-Churchill River in Saskatchewan.

The complaints involved allegations of wrongdoing concerning the promotion of a particular party through a raffle, the distribution of political literature inside polling stations, questionably high voter turnout in certain polling divisions, and missing ballots.

Given the considerable media attention surrounding the allegations, and in the interest of the public, the Commissioner has provided an overview of his conclusions based on the investigation.

The first complaint concerned a raffle held on a reserve by community leaders to promote voting for a particular political party. According to the leaders, offering door prizes to encourage people to participate in community activities is common practice. In this case, an advertisement was posted on the Band office door stating that door prizes would be offered to everyone who came out to vote in the federal election of January 23, 2006. Winners would be selected by a draw. No other participation conditions applied.

On election day, community officials noted the names of electors who entered the polling station to vote. Each name was written on a piece of paper and placed in a draw barrel. No elector was spoken to upon entering or leaving the polling station. Everyone who arrived to vote was entered in the draw, which was held after the poll closed.

The investigation has shown that the draw was nothing other than a non-partisan initiative to encourage everyone living on the reserve to vote. The draw did not interfere with the electoral process.

The second complaint concerned the presence of political pamphlets and advertising at a number of polling stations on election day. The investigation has revealed that some campaign material was displayed at about 6 out of 177 polling stations in the riding. This is regrettable. The cases brought to the attention of Elections Canada officials were dealt with promptly through the removal of the offending material. The Commissioner found no evidence indicating that this activity was designed to influence electors. The incidents were isolated and did not undermine the electoral process.

A third complaint concerned voter turnout at three polling divisions that was higher than the number of eligible electors on the official voters list. The investigation has revealed that this was attributed to:

- an increase in election-day registration by first-time eligible electors who were not on any official list

- electors who turned up to vote at the poll on the reserve where they resided instead of at the neighbouring polling divisions where they were listed to vote

The evidence indicated that all electors voting at the three reserve polling divisions had identified themselves as residents of the polling division where they voted and had met all other legal requirements. Available documentation has established that none of these electors voted twice.

Lastly, there were also allegations of missing ballots or ballot box "stuffing" in certain polling divisions. A thorough analysis of election documents has shown that all ballots were accounted for.

Based on the results of the investigation, the Commissioner has concluded that there was no evidence of wrongdoing that affected the outcome of the vote in Desnethe-Missinippi-Churchill River during the federal election held on January 23, 2006.

The Commissioner of Canada Elections is the independent officer responsible for ensuring that the Canada Elections Act is complied with and enforced. The Chief Electoral Officer appointed the current Commissioner, William Corbett, in September 2006.

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