April 26, 2014

The deceptive Tory retreat on the elections bill, and the corporate media's sleeping pill

Yesterday the Conservative Party announced changes to their reactionary elections legislation. Here Darrell Rankin, leader of the CPC Manitoba, calls for continued mobilization and action in a message to Manitoba activists. This note has been edited.

By Darrell Rankin,
Special to Rebel Youth

We need to challenge the media spin that the Tory amendments address our real concerns.

I've looked at the amendments. The Tories are trying to appear they are listening.

But they are still mutilating the principle of one-person, one vote. They have backed down on allowing the winning party to appoint officials who count the ballots. (This may have come back to bite them in 2015.) But the main problem is not fixed.

Perhaps hundreds of thousands of Canadians will still be disenfranchised, most of them people who do not support the parties of big business -- Aboriginal people, women and seniors, the poor and disabled, youth and students.

Among the many thoroughly reactionary measures in the Tory bill that preserve the rule of the wealthy, the worst is that voters will have to provide "sufficient" ID. This is compounded by prohibiting the use of "Voter Information Cards" as sufficient ID.

In fact, Voter Information Cards will no longer be issued, so people will not easily know the location of their poll. Shades of robocalling times 100,000.

The Tories have no idea how many voters will be disenfranchised or not bother to vote because of lack of information, and they don't care. They do know the wealthy tend to vote more.

But a great many people who could have voted in 2011 may no longer be able to vote in 2015.

The problem is that the corporate media are failing to present these measures, combined, as the main thrust of the bill. The Ottawa Citizen says:
But... many will still be unhappy with the proposed law, in particular the government’s commitment to end the practice of vouching for voters who don’t have any ID.
The Winnipeg Free Press headline is "Harper government makes major changes to Elections Act overhaul." Nothing could be further from the truth. This hides the actual, main reactionary measure and falsely reassures the public that nothing much is changing.

The amendments

The Tories will allow vouching only for voters who have ID which does not list a home address, a measure that concerns at most 100,000 people who vouched in the last election, some of whom had no Voter Information Cards or no ID at all. So, you still need ID, and you won't have a Voter Info Card.

The Tories also:

- clarify provisions that critics say muzzle the chief electoral officer;
- scrap a part of the bill that would have allowed parties to exempt the cost of fundraising calls to past donors from their reportable election expenses;
- and back down on a clause that would have let parties choose polling location supervisors.

(Source: Ottawa Citizen)

If the Tories are so concerned about voter fraud, let's suggest dipping fingers in dye, or an ultra-violet dye - a practice followed in many other countries.  But losing one vote is unacceptable.

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