Allegations of voter fraud surface in Surrey civic election

It was a packed house at Surrey City Council on Monday night, as the city debated a controversial road that would cut through Hawthorne Park.
It was a packed house at Surrey City Council on Monday night, as the city debated a controversial road that would cut through Hawthorne Park. Janet Brown / CKNW

Add another twist to what’s already shaping up to be one of B.C.’s wildest civic elections.

A Surrey community group has filed a complaint with the RCMP, alleging a widespread and co-ordinated attempt within the South Asian community of voter fraud in the Oct. 20 vote.

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The complaint comes from Wake Up Surrey, the group that organized a mass rally against gang violence in the city earlier this year.

Journalist and organizer Gurpreet (Lucky) Singh Sahota said several people have come forward alleging they’re being pressured into participating in the alleged scheme that he claims could affect as many as 15,000 votes.

“The persons who were given these files came to us and said, ‘These guys gave it to us, and they are saying to do that or you will lose your job. Our boss gave it to us… our relative gave it to us, but you have to do that,'” he said.

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“They’re forcing people to do this.”

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In the complaint lodged with the RCMP, Wake Up Surrey alleges the scheme involves the mass fraudulent use of absentee ballots.

The group claims the fraud conspirators plan to use the ballots to either vote on behalf of someone else without their knowledge or by obtaining the absentee ballots from voters and then filling them out and forging the voter’s signature or by telling them how to vote.

It also claims that some would-be voters are being paid to support a particular candidate.

Sahota said up to 600 people were involved in the attempt, each with a goal of influencing 25 votes — for a potential total of 15,000 fraudulent votes.

According to numbers from the City of Surrey, just 500 votes were submitted as absentee ballots in the 2014 election.

Sahota would not say who the alleged scheme was meant to benefit, saying the whistle-blowers who had come forward would share that information with the police.

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The Surrey RCMP confirmed it had received a letter of complaint from Wake Up Surrey, and said it was liaising with Elections BC and “looking into” the allegation.

Elections BC also received a letter of complaint but said it does not administer elections at the local level, and hence the allegations were outside of its mandate.

It said it had advised Wake Up Surrey to contact the Surrey’s chief electoral officer.

Global News has requested comment from the City of Surrey.

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