Concerns raised over discarded proportional representation ballots

Voters are being asked if they wish to keep the current first-past-the-post system or switch to one of three systems of proportional representation. Simon Little / Global News

Elections BC is warning people that if they tamper with electoral reform ballots, they are breaking the law.

The warning comes as concerns are being raised, mainly through social media, about ballots being left beside apartment mailboxes and in recycling bins.

“Tampering with mail sent via Canada Post is a federal criminal offence, and Canada Post has established robust procedures and checks to prevent mail tampering,” reads a tweet from Elections BC.

“Processes tested in previous votes are in place to ensure a secure and transparent referendum. During the voting period, voters can contact Elections BC to confirm their ballot has been received.”

The voting period for the mail-in referendum kicked off on Monday. Many British Columbians have already received their ballots and will continue to see ballots in their mailboxes over the next few weeks.

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The referendum list is based on voter registration from the 2017 general provincial elections. Eligible voters can register to cast a ballot in the referendum by contacting Elections BC.

“We have processes in place to detect attempts from people to register fraudulently, to request voting packages they are not entitled to. We work very closely with Canada Post to ensure the packages are delivered,” said chief elections officer Anton Boegman.

Elections BC has already wrapped up a brief investigation into concerns raised over former MLA Judi Tyabji stating on Facebook that she is starting a “ballot collection” effort to show “how easy it is to defraud the process.” The elections body ruled that Tyabji did not break any rules.

“Elections BC has considered your concerns. There does not appear to be a contravention of the Electoral Reform Referendum 2018 Act or its regulation, however Elections BC has reached out to Ms. Tyabji to assure her the referendum process is secure and to inform her of the rules,” reads the complaint response from Election BC.

“It is not an offence under the law to only gather discarded voting packages, or gather voting packages from other individuals with their consent. It is an offence to vote more than once, vote with someone else’s voting package, open someone else’s voting package, or request a voting package from Elections BC on someone else’s behalf.”

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WATCH HERE: Proportional representation referendum packages start to go out

Click to play video: 'Proportional representation referendum packages start to go out'
Proportional representation referendum packages start to go out

The election package is designed to prevent voter fraud by requiring voters to send back a series of envelopes. The completed ballot goes in the secrecy envelope to ensure that the voter’s identification is still secret. The certification envelope must be signed by the voter and the date of birth must be put on both this ballot.

The ballots must be returned to Elections BC by Nov. 30. For those who don’t want to use the mail, there are more than 60 Service B.C. offices that will have ballot boxes.

During the mail-in HST referendum, two per cent of ballots were set aside mainly because they didn’t have a date of birth, or signature.

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