Freedom Party of Ontario

240 Commissioners Road West
London, Ontario N6J 1Y1
Telephone: 519-681-3999
FAX: 519-681-2857

July 30, 2007
Elections Ontario
51 Rolark Drive
Toronto, Ontario
M1R 3B1
Attention: Loren Wells, Deputy Chief Electoral Officer
Dear Ms. Wells:
Re: Identification document requirements for electors
I confirm receipt of your letter to Ontario's registered political parties dated July 16, 2007.  In that letter you ask each party to fill out an enclosed form, and to sign it.  I am writing both to explain why Freedom Party will not answer the questions put to it in the form, and to provide a substantive answer concerning how the Chief Electoral Officer can and must comply with the relatively new obligation set out in subsection 4.2(1) of the Election Act.
A. Why Freedom Party will not answer the questions asked
Paragraph 4.2(1)(a) of the Election Act states:

"The Chief Electoral Officer shall,

(a) determine what document or class of document constitutes, for the purposes of each of the provisions listed in subsection (2),

(i) proof of a person's identity, and

(ii) proof of a person's place of residence" (emphasis added)

The purposes set out in 4.2(2) include proving ones identity in order to obtain a ballot at a polling station, and proving both ones identity and ones place of residence in order to be added to the list of voters. 
The two questions set out in the form are worded as follows:
"Q1. a) In your experience, what documents do members of the community you represent or serve have that could prove their identity?
b) What are the possible challenges for members of the community you serve in being able to provide identification documents to prove their identity?
Q2. a) In your experience, what documents do members of the community you serve have that could prove their place of residence?
b) What are the possible challenges for members of the community you serve in being able to provide identification documents to prove their place of residence?"
Freedom Party's objections to answering the questionnaire are threefold:
1. The Election Act's new requirement to prove ones identity/residence is not conditional upon "challenges" a voter might have in obtaining or producing the appropriate document.  Accordingly, such challenges are not a proper consideration and, I would submit, were the Chief Electoral Officer to base his decision under subsection 4.2(1) on such challenges, he would have failed to have properly executed his duty under that subsection.  By answering questions about challenges, Freedom Party would implicitly be sanctioning the false notion that such challenges are a proper consideration under section 4.2.  They are not, so we shall withhold such sanction.
In saying this, we are not indifferent to the problem that the Legislature has created with its decision to require voters to present identification in order to get a ballot.  The Legislature has imposed a requirement for documentation, but has failed miserably to provide Ontarians over the last 4 years with a proper voter card.  Freedom Party proposed, in 2003, that Ontario issue to every person who provides evidence of their eligibility to vote (including age, residence, and citizenship) a voter card that would certify that the person identified by the card has a right to a ballot.  That step was not taken, and now the Legislature has made the Chief Electoral Officer the front man for any public outrage about the new voter documentation requirements.  
We remain of the opinion that photo voter ID should be issued to all Ontarians who provide evidence of their age, residence and citizenship.  Surely Ontario voters are owed such protection of their franchise, for the security of democracy in an age where democracy itself is under attack by terroristic theocrats and others.
2. Subsection 4.2(1) requires the Chief Electoral Officer to identify a "document" (singular) or "class" (singular) of documents that satisfies not one, but two requirements: proof of identity and of residence.  It is simply not the case that the Chief Electoral Officer is to identify one document for the purposes of proving identity, and another for the purposes of proving residence.  The Act clearly requires the identification of one or more cards each of which both identify the alleged voter, and prove his residence.  However, by splitting the questions about identity and residence, the questionnaire suggests that the Chief Electoral Officer is considering the approval of documents that prove only identity or residence (not both).  We are of the opinion that should the Chief Electoral Officer approve any document that does not prove both a person's identity and his/her place of residence, the Chief Electoral Officer will have failed to execute his duty under subsection 4.2(1).  Were Freedom Party to answer the questions asked, it might be inferred that we agree with such an approach.  We do not, so we withhold our implied sanction of such an approach.
3. Freedom Party does not serve a "community".  We do not agree that people do or should be treated by government as though they live communally or exist as a collective.  Freedom Party seeks to defend the life, liberty and property of all individuals living in Ontario.
B. Freedom Party's Opinion About What Documents Satisfy Section 4.2
We begin by noting that the legislation is inadequate, in that it does not require proof of citizenship even though Canadian citizenship is one of the eligibility requirements for voting.  Without proof of citizenship, any resident of Ontario who meets the remaining requirements may vote without right to do so, yet remain undetected.  We acknowledge, however, that that omission is the fault not of Elections Ontario but of the Legislature.
With respect to the Chief Electoral Officer's compliance with section 4.2, we submit that mere possession of documents bearing the name and/or address of a voter is not reasonable proof of identity or residence.  Credit card applications and numerous other junk mail items are routinely thrown into the garbage by countless households.  Similarly, Elections Ontario knows that numerous voter notification cards issued by Elections Ontario have been obtained by people to whom they were not issued, and that same have been presented by fraudsters at polling stations (fraudsters who, if caught, have simply dropped the card and walked out of the polling station without consequence): mere possession of a voter notification card is not proof of identity. 
We submit that to comply with the letter and the spirit of section 4.2, the Chief Electoral Officer must give due regard to the fact that it is intended to effect an actual change of practice at polling stations: it is not mere window dressing, but is intended to decrease the possibility of voter fraud.  In past elections, mere possession of such things as a Bell Canada bill has been accepted as proof of residence.  If section 4.2 is to have its intended effect of reducing opportunities for voter fraud, mere possession of a document bearing a voter's name and address is simply not sufficient.  We are of the opinion that section 4.2 requires a higher standard and that implies, as we see it, photo identification such as: an Ontario Driver's licence, the photo version of the Ontario Health Card, or any federal card bearing the photo, name, and current address of the person bearing the card.
I understand that Elections Ontario opposes photo ID for at least two reasons:
  1. The Chief Electoral Officer does not want to require voters to present photo ID because that requirement might upset some voters at polling stations, with the effect that some polling staff may decide to walk off the job rather than deal with the abuse. 

  2. Freedom Party and I have repeatedly suggested to Elections Ontario, since 2003, that Ontario should introduce a voter card to people who satisfy all eligibility requirements for voting (including citizenship).  However, we have been met with a host of responses from Elections Ontario, such as that such cards would be too expensive, or that (in some entirely inexplicable way) they would violate a person's alleged right to privacy in such matters.  At every turn, the stated position of Elections Ontario has been that its goal is to "get out the vote" and that requiring people to verify that they are eligible to vote would interfere with that goal.
With respect, neither of these concerns trumps the Chief Electoral Officer's new duty to identify a document or class of documents that will actually identify a voter and his/her residence. 
Voters might rightly be upset that the Legislature imposed an ID requirement without issuing ID (of the sort advocated by Freedom Party for years).  However, although that problem could have been avoided by the issuance of voter cards (over the last 4 years), the reality is that the law now requires tighter identification standards.  Any issues of conflict at polling stations must now be dealt with by means of security, rather than by violating the tighter standards imposed by section 4.2.
We remain of the opinion that Elections Ontario's mandate does not even include the goal of "getting out the vote", and that its role is mechanical in nature: it is to implement a voting system, not to concern itself with voter disillusionment with government and its effect on voter turn-out.  And, most certainly, section 4.2 of the Election Act does not permit the Chief Electoral Officer to compromise issues of identity and residence verification for any reason, including "getting out the vote".
We thank you for giving Freedom Party the opportunity, once again, to express our opinion about this matter.
Paul McKeever
Leader, Freedom Party of Ontario
on behalf of
Freedom Party of Ontario