The BC NDP is accusing a BC Liberal candidate of coordinating an effort to request mail-in ballots for constituents in his Lower Mainland riding, in violation of the Election Act.
Global News obtained a letter and other documents written by party lawyers to Elections BC, which is investigating.
In the letter, lawyer Rachel Roy alleges that Garry Thind, the BC Liberal candidate for Surrey-Fleetwood, and his team are part of larger effort to collect personal information from constituents and request a mail-in ballot for them on their behalf.
Elections BC says it takes every complaint it receives seriously and are taking appropriate and ongoing steps to address this matter.
“At this stage we have no evidence to suggest that requests for vote-by-mail packages were actually made on a voter’s behalf,” the statement reads.
“We have contacted Gary (sic) Thind’s campaign and the BC Liberal Party, who have denied the allegations and stated that no voter information was received and no requests for vote-by-mail packages were made on behalf of voters.”
According to the Election BC website, a person can only request and vote with their own vote-by-mail package.
Section 266 of the Election Act stats that anyone found to have provided false or misleading information could face financial penalties, jail time, or disqualification from holding office or voting for seven years.
The documents that the BC NDP provided to Elections BC show what appear to be screenshots from a text-message conversation on WhatsApp titled “Garry Thind-Fleetwood.”
“As a team, our main task is to register as many voters as we can by ordering ballots in mail,” the message reads.
“Please identify all voters in Fleetwood. Person must be 18 years old and Canadian citizen.”
The messages also ask for others on the text thread to gather name, date of birth, address, phone number, email address and one piece of identification such as a driver licence number or social insurance number.
“One of the administrators of the group of nearly a hundred individuals is Garry Thind,” the letter from Roy reads.
“According to a message from Baldeep Jhand, the other group administrator, as a team, their task was to identify all voters in the electoral district and to order as many mail-in voting packages online as possible. The Act prohibits an individual from requesting a ballot for someone other than themselves.”
She alleges that the group of nearly 100 people is purportedly applying for as many mail-in packages as they can by collecting, using and disclosing the personal information required to request these packages, including government-issued ID numbers.
“Even more worrisome is the fact that this group is collecting people’s date of birth, which is the security feature Elections BC has built into the mail-in voting package to ensure that only the voter listed uses the package to vote,” Roy writes.
Elections BC has seen a massive spike in requests for mail-in ballots due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
As of 11:59 pm on Monday, about 431,000 people had requested them.
The BC Liberal Party has sent a reminder to all of their candidates and campaign managers that campaigns must not request a vote-by-mail package on a voter’s behalf.
Elections BC will be following up with all political parties and candidates to remind them of correct practices in relation to voting by mail.
The vote-by-mail system in B.C. has several checks and balances to ensure the integrity of the process.
These include, but are not limited to, voters providing personal information to identify themselves when registering to vote or requesting a vote-by-mail package, and the requirement for voters to sign their certification envelope before submitting it to Elections BC.
Voters go to the polls on Oct. 24.