Aug 15, 2011
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FIGHT HST ASKS WHY ONE VOTER ALLOWED TO SUBMIT LATE BALLOT BY ELECTIONS BC WHILE THOUSANDS OF OTHER VOTERS DENIED DEMOCRATIC RIGHT TO VOTE
Elections BC gives Cranbrook voter a ballot after complaint to BC Liberal MLA
VANCOUVER – Fight HST is demanding that Elections BC extend voting rights to thousands of BC voters who were denied a ballot in the HST referendum after learning that a Cranbrook voter was given approval to submit her ballot several days after the official August 5 deadline.
Annette Lagasse was given a “late submission” ballot exemption after Elections BC repeatedly failed to deliver a ballot to her, despite Lagasse calling the agency on four separate occasions before that deadline to complain about not receiving it as promised.
Lagasse also complained about the missing ballot on August 8 by email to her Member of the Legislative Assembly, BC Liberal Bill Bennett, East Kootenay.
On August 9, Lagasse was contacted by email by Tim Strocel, Elections BC Operations Manager. Strocel’s email states that: “I am conducting an investigation into mail delivery failures during the HST Referendum. …..I would like to discuss the circumstances of your voting package with the intention of recommending a late submission.”
Lagasse says Strocel later told her to send her HST referendum ballot directly to him at Elections BC but not to put it in the regular envelope sent to voters or it wouldn’t be counted.
“I shouldn’t have to fight for my right to vote,” Lagasse said Monday. “It’s appalling. They should have extended the deadline as many times as needed for democracy to work.”
“It’s only when your rights are taken away that you realize how important they are,” she says.
Fight HST leader and former BC Premier Bill Vander Zalm said Lagasse’s case is an exception instead of the rule, with literally thousands of voters having been denied their right to vote.
“Did Annette Lagasse only get her vote after complaining to her BC Liberal MLA? We don’t know but it certainly suggests that any BC voter who asked Elections BC for a ballot but didn’t get one in time to vote should now call their MLA and ask for his or her help,” Vander Zalm said.
“Annette Lagasse had to go to extreme lengths to not only get her ballot but make sure her ballot got counted – how many other British Columbians didn’t have her determination and lost their right to vote because Elections BC made it so difficult to get a ballot in time?” Vander Zalm asked.
Vander Zalm is calling on Elections BC to extend the same democratic right to other voters that it has rightly given Lagasse.
“Any BC voter who didn’t get their mail-in ballot and requested one from Elections BC before the deadline should now be given the right to vote and to have that vote counted,” Vander Zalm said. “There is still more than enough time before the planned end of the vote count on August 25 to make sure democracy is delivered.”
Fight HST is again calling for an independent inquiry into how the mail-in ballot binding referendum on the Harmonized Sales Tax has been conducted, saying the Lagasse example makes it more important than ever.
“This HST referendum has been full of unnecessary challenges for voters, who should have found it very easy to cast their ballots,” Fight HST strategist Bill Tieleman said. “That’s why we need an independent inquiry to ensure that the next BC referendum runs far more smoothly and ensures everyone’s democratic rights are respected.”
Tieleman said the grassroots group is still getting dozens of complaints through its website from voters who contacted Elections BC before the July 22 deadline to request a ballot but never received one and encouraged anyone who hasn’t contacted Fight HST to still do so.Share on Facebook