Reduce abuse, maximize participation

Reduce abuse, maximize participation I wish to weigh in on concerns about voting procedures in the recent territorial election that have been vigorously debated on ArtsNet and reported on in both the Whitehorse Star and the Yukon News. The issues that

I wish to weigh in on concerns about voting procedures in the recent territorial election that have been vigorously debated on ArtsNet and reported on in both the Whitehorse Star and the Yukon News.

The issues that have come to my attention are as follows:

1) Despite the efforts of Elections Yukon to inform eligible voters that they had to be on the voters list in order to vote on Election Day, a number of people apparently did not know about this requirement.

Among those who did not know were many first-time voters and others who do not necessarily get their information by reading newspapers and listening to the radio. (And even among those who knew they had to be on the voters list were at least four people, that I know of, who have resided in the same homes for years, have been on previous lists and assumed they would be on this one, too. They did not realize that they had to be re-enumerated every election.)

2) People who were not on the voters list had to meet stringent criteria to be sworn in to vote on Election Day.

It was not enough to be able to prove your identity and residency with photo identification and other documents; you had to find someone to vouch for you who lived in your poll Ð yes, your poll, not your riding or even your community.

For example, the neighbour across the street would not have been able to vouch for you if your street happened to form the boundary between two polls. The person vouching for you also had to be on the voters list, so if your entire household missed being enumerated, your roommates would not have been able to vouch for you because their names would not have been on the list either.

It is no wonder that some, perhaps many, people ended up not voting at all, whether because they could not meet Elections Yukon’s swearing-in criteria or because they gave up in frustration.

I know of one young woman who spent the entire day looking for someone to vouch for her.

Others allegedly found people to vouch for them who did not really know them Ð in other words, they found people who were willing to lie so that they could vote. (It has also been alleged that this practice may have been encouraged or at least ignored by poll workers.)

3) Names of people who were not eligible voters may have been on the voters list. For example, they may not have truly resided at the stated address or they may not have lived in the Yukon for the required 12 months prior to Election Day.

4) At least one person arrived at the poll to discover that his name had already been crossed off the voters list, whether in error or because someone lied about his identity. In any event, the person whose name had already been crossed off was allowed to vote.

What has become clear over the past two weeks is that the procedures used in the recent election were flawed.

A number of people who met age, citizenship, and residency requirements were not able to vote. People who were not eligible to vote may have voted. And in at least one case, two votes may have been cast when only one should have been.

In a jurisdiction where ridings can be won or lost by only a few votes (just ask Lois Moorcroft and Valerie Boxall), these are serious matters and could even call into question some of the election results.

I do not know what, if anything, can be done after the fact. But surely in the four or five years between now and the next territorial election our new legislators can devise a system which reduces the potential for abuse and ensures that everyone who meets basic voting criteria is allowed to vote with a maximum of confidence in that system and a minimum of personal hassle.

(And, by the way, why do there need to be different voting procedures for municipal, territorial, and federal elections? I realize that each level of government has its own legislation governing elections, but it is this very lack of consistency that causes some of the confusion.)

Finally, I wish to applaud those young people who first brought these issues to light by speaking out publicly, creating a video for YouTube, and establishing an online petition.

They have proven that young people care about the political process and take their democratic rights seriously.

If change comes about between now and the next election, we will have them to thank for it.

Karen Walker


Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Dawson City RCMP are reporting a break and enter on Feb. 25 after two masked men entered a residence, assaulted a man inside with a weapon and departed. (Black Press file)
Two men arrested after Dawson City home invasion

Dawson City RCMP are reporting a break and enter on Feb. 25.… Continue reading

Highways and Public Works Minister Richard Mostyn speaks to reporters at a news conference in Whitehorse on Dec. 21, 2017. New ATIPP laws are coming into effect April 1. (Chris Windeyer/Yukon News file)
New access to information laws will take effect April 1

“Our government remains committed to government openness and accountability.”

City council meeting in Whitehorse on Feb. 8. At Whitehorse city council’s March 1 meeting, members were presented with a bylaw that would repeal 10 bylaws deemed to be redundant or out of date. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Out with the old

Council considers repealing outdated bylaws

A bobcat is used to help clear snow in downtown Whitehorse on Nov. 4. According to Environment Canada, the Yukon has experienced record-breaking precipitation this year. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Yukon will have “delayed spring” after heavy winter snowfall

After record levels of precipitation, cold spring will delay melt

Yukon RCMP say they’ve received three reports of youth being extorted online. (Black Press file)
Yukon youth being extorted online

Yukon RCMP say they’ve received three reports of youth being extorted on… Continue reading

A man walks passed the polling place sign at city hall in Whitehorse on Oct. 18, 2018. The City of Whitehorse is preparing for a pandemic-era election this October with a number of measures proposed to address COVID-19 restrictions. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
City gets set for Oct. 21 municipal election

Elections procedures bylaw comes forward

A rendering of the Normandy Manor seniors housing facility. (Photo courtesy KBC Developments)
Work on seniors housing project moves forward

Funding announced for Normandy Manor

Tom Ullyett, pictured, is the first Yukoner to receive the Louis St-Laurent Award of Excellence from the Canadian Bar Association for his work as a community builder and mentor in the territory. (Gabrielle Plonka/Yukon News)
Tom Ullyett wins lifetime achievement award from the Canadian Bar Association

Ullyett has worked in the Yukon’s justice ecosystem for 36 years as a public sector lawyer and mentor

The Blood Ties outreach van will now run seven nights a week, thanks to a boost in government funding. Logan Godin, coordinator, and Jesse Whelen, harm reduction counsellor, are seen here on May 12, 2020. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Blood Ties outreach van running seven nights a week with funding boost

The Yukon government is ramping up overdose response, considering safe supply plan

Ranj Pillai speaks to media about business relief programs in Whitehorse on April 1, 2020. The Yukon government announced Feb.25 that it will extend business support programs until September. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)
Government extends business relief programs to September, launches new loan

“It really gives folks some help with supporting their business with cash flow.”

Whitehorse City Hall. (Joel Krahn/Yukon News file)
A look at decisions made by Whitehorse City Council this week

Bylaw amendment Whitehorse city council is moving closer with changes to a… Continue reading

Susie Rogan is a veteran musher with 14 years of racing experience and Yukon Journey organizer. (Yukon Journey Facebook)
Yukon Journey mushers begin 255-mile race

Eleven mushers are participating in the race from Pelly Crossing to Whitehorse

Legislative assembly on the last day of the fall sitting in Whitehorse on Nov. 22, 2018. As the legislature prepares to return on March 4, the three parties are continuing to finalize candidates in the territory’s 19 ridings. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Nine new candidates confirmed in Yukon ridings

It has been a busy two weeks as the parties try to firm up candidates

Most Read