For the past three elections, the University of Guelph has, in an attempt to get more students to vote, had an advance poll open on campus in the student centre, so it’s easily available and accessible. In previous elections this has happened without incident, and been very successful. The poll was held yesterday, since it’s close to the end of the semester and students are starting to leave, and turnout was very high (around 700 students, which was higher than the target set by the university’s [awesome] president, who then got his face painted blue). Near the end of the voting, though, Michael Sona, the communications direction for the Conservative candidate in Guelph (Marty Burke) interrupted the voting, claimed the poll was illegal, and attempted to grab the ballot box.
Let me repeat that: the communications director of a Conservative candidate attempted to take a box of ballots.
I should perhaps remind you that this was the university that started the Vote Mob phenomenon which is being replicated on campuses across the country. I should perhaps also mention that Guelph as a city usually votes Liberal, but in the last election the Liberal candidate beat the Conservative candidate by only a slim margin. U of G is left-leaning and politically engaged. You do the math.
The Conservative party is now calling for the none of the votes cast at this ballot to be counted, saying that it was unsanctioned (regardless of the fact that an Elections Canada official has verified that this is the third year of this special poll, and that special polls are used to reach populations with traditionally low voter turnout) and there were partisan election material at it, which is a violation of the Canada Elections Act. Obviously I was not there, but the first argument has no basis that I can see, and I have doubts about the second, because that’s not exactly an obscure part of the Elections Act, and I can’t imagine that either the University or Elections Canada would not ensure that the poll didn’t break the law. Even if there’s any merit to their argument (which I don’t think there is), instead of just filing a legal complaint, an unauthorized, partisan worker ATTEMPTED TO TAKE A BOX OF BALLOTS.
This is TOTALLY unacceptable. Lead Now has a petition up demanding that the Conservatives drop their challenge, and I strongly encourage all of you Canadians to sign it, and everyone (Canadian or not) to pass it around.
Thanks very much to RK who left the petition link in the comments! She also left this hilarious picture of Stephen Harper surrounded by upset children as an antidote to all the rage: