El­i­gi­ble vot­ers could be dis­en­fran­chised by stricter ID rules

The Guardian (Charlottetown) - - CANADA -

TORONTO — Deny­ing peo­ple the abil­ity to use voter iden­ti­fi­ca­tion cards as valid ID at the polls could dis­en­fran­chise tens of thou­sands of el­i­gi­ble vot­ers in the up­com­ing fed­eral elec­tion, ad­vo­cacy groups warned in court Thurs­day. The Coun­cil of Cana­di­ans and the Cana­dian Fed­er­a­tion of Stu­dents are seek­ing an in­terim in­junc­tion against a key voter iden­ti­fi­ca­tion pro­vi­sion in the Fair Elec­tions Act, passed last year. The Harper gov­ern­ment made changes to voter iden­ti­fi­ca­tion rules last year out of con­cern over voter fraud. The or­ga­ni­za­tions want Canada's chief elec­toral of­fi­cer to be able to au­tho­rize voter iden­ti­fi­ca­tion cards as valid ID, a power that was taken away in the act. With­out a voter iden­ti­fi­ca­tion card, vot­ers need a piece of photo ID with their cur­rent ad­dress or two pieces of ID, one with a photo and one with a cur­rent ad­dress. “At least in the tens of thou­sands would not be able to vote be­cause they wouldn't have ac­cess to those two sep­a­rate pieces of iden­ti­fi­ca­tion,” Maude Bar­low, na­tional chair­per­son for the Coun­cil of Cana­di­ans, said out­side the On­tario Su­pe­rior Court of Jus­tice. A con­sti­tu­tional chal­lenge of the act is in the works, but that won't hap­pen un­til af­ter the next elec­tion. The coun­cil and the fed­er­a­tion want the in­junc­tion so those who need to use the voter iden­ti­fi­ca­tion cards will be able to this fall.

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