Film challenges voter fraud

Voter fraud, double voting and the blocking of legitimate voters is the subject of a lighthearted but troubling video on the Yukon election generating YouTube traffic this week.

Voter fraud, double voting and the blocking of legitimate voters is the subject of a lighthearted but troubling video on the Yukon election generating YouTube traffic this week.

It tells the story of Hank Mann, who enumerated his cat and dead goldfish in the last territorial election.

And that wasn’t the end of it.

When Mann voted, someone had already cast a ballot using his name and address.

Luckily, the polling clerk let him vote anyway.

Mann, the cat and the dead goldfish are two-dimensional cartoon characters in the animated short called Yukon Territory Voting Instructions.

The story is fictional, but it is based on facts.

“Someone who worked at one of the polling stations, told me that if a person came in and someone else had already voted using their name, the polling station staff would let them vote anyway,” said Lauren Tuck, who helped create the video over the course of just four days with Eleanor Rosenberg and Dean Williams.

Double voting wasn’t the only potential problem.

Tuck accidently enumerated her roommate using a nickname. When this roommate went to vote, she tried to tell the polling people that her name was actually completely different.

“But they didn’t care,” said Tuck. “They just told her to vote and not worry about it.”

The name of the cat, or the dead goldfish, would have worked just as well.

If you weren’t enumerated, it was even worse, said Tuck, who worked at a Riverdale polling station on election day.

An electrical bill, passport and the new Yukon driver’s licence weren’t enough to get you on the list. “You also needed someone in your polling district to vouch for you,” said Tuck.

The polling districts are much smaller than the ridings, so even if you knew someone two streets over they might not be in the right district and couldn’t vouch for you, she said.

The video deals with this scenario.

“Just ask your neighbour,” says the cheery polling clerk.

“But I don’t know my neighbours, I just moved,” says the woman.

“Great, it’s a good chance to get to know them,” says the chipper clerk.

Tuck heard story after story of compete strangers vouching for people at the polls.

The day after the election, Tuck was chatting with Rosenberg about the bizarre election scenarios she’d witnessed.

“I was getting all riled up and furious,” she said.

That’s when Rosenberg suggested making a video about it.

“Everyone I talked to after the election had a story about it,” said Rosenberg. “Either they were surprised they weren’t asked for ID, or they were turned away at the polls. Rosenberg even talked to someone who discovered their name had already been crossed off the list because someone had voted for them.

“There seems like there was a lot of potential for mistakes, or fraud,” she said. “We were angry about what happened, but it was also so ridiculous we decided to share the joke.”

Rosenberg wrote the script, drew the characters and filmed the video using a recycled piece of cardboard hung between two chairs with ski poles.

She also came up with a new name for our system of governance.

“We’re calling it a de’mock’ary,” she said.

When Williams voted, he wasn’t asked for ID either.

“Anywhere else in the country requires so much ID, to ensure there isn’t voter fraud,” he said.

“We can’t say voter fraud is happening up here, but we can’t say it isn’t either.”

And that’s a problem.

Williams has created a petition to accompany the film asking Elections Yukon to look at the controversy and investigate the complaints.

“I am asking them if voter fraud was possible,” said Williams. “And if they say, ‘Yes,’ then, in a really just society we’d have another election.”

Williams, Tuck and Rosenberg know this will never happen.

“Still, if there were problems it means this wasn’t a fair election,” said Tuck.

The group is nonpartisan.

“If a government wins fair and square, like the federal election, then we can’t complain,” she said.

But the Yukon territorial election wasn’t fair and square, she said.

Yukon’s chief elections officer Jo-Ann Waugh fielded a host of phone calls on election day from upset Yukoners who had trouble voting, she said.

And since the election, Waugh’s received at least one email a day, complaining, said Tuck.

That doesn’t seem like a lot, until you think about how many people actually sit down and take the time to write a complaint, she said. “Maybe one in 20.”

Tuck spent the months running up to this election co-ordinating Bringing Youth Toward Equality’s get-what-you-want campaign.

“We were motivating youth to think about what they want, and then get out and vote,” said Tuck. “If they need housing, for example, we’d have them do their research and get on board with the party with the best housing platform.”

Tuck encouraged youth to vote.

Now, she’s worried many were turned away at the polls.

“I hope they weren’t deterred,” she said.

Rosenberg was worried she was going to run into trouble voting. She’d been enumerated at her old address, and was at a new place for the election. Her driver’s licence had a third address on it.

But when she went to vote, no one asked for ID, and Rosenberg scratched an X on her ballot without incident. “I left feeling like I got away with something,” she said.

This isn’t a good thing.

BC issues voter ID cards and you have to swear an oath, said Williams, who moved north recently.

“In the Yukon, it’s a joke,” he said. “You could vote five times at three different polling stations, if you wanted to.”

The territory is growing at such a rate, its elections need to grow up too, said Williams.

There’s all this space to tamper with the system, said Tuck.

“I hope, in my heart, it hasn’t happened, but the system really allows for it,” said Williams.

To view the video – which had more than 500 hits within the first 24 hours – and to access the petition go to www.yukonvote.ca.

Contact Genesee Keevil at

gkeevil@yukon-news.com

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