Monday, May 2, 2011

Return To Sender

Today is election day across Canada.
Tomorrow morning this country will either have a new Prime Minister or will return Mr. Harper to the office.
Since the last election the Conservatives have been dealing with the fact that even though they have been in power, it has been with a minority rather than a majority government.
Basically, this means enough seats to hold power but not enough to call all of the shots.

Without getting into the whole story here we are going to the polls for the 4th federal election in seven years.

No problem. We can handle that. We just do what we have to do.

I'd like to share a little story of something that I found interesting though.

My wife is working today as a Deputy Returning Officer at one of the local polling stations and she is the only person other than the actual voter who is allowed to touch a ballot.
Initially she had asked to work a poll and was told that a representative from Elections Canada would be in touch with her to sort out the details.

A couple of weeks ago she received a call that she would not be needed to work the polls but would be a backup in case an opening came up.
A few days later she had another call advising that she was needed and was to attend a training session for DRO's and polling clerks.

So far, so good.
She attended the training.
As far as she knew the next thing she would be required to do was to show up on election day at the polling station and get to work.

Last Friday evening a lady from Elections Canada called to speak to Cheryl. She wasn't home so I took a message and she called this lady back.
She was surprised to learn that she was required to go to a building in Knowledge Park in Fredericton to pick up a box. No-one had told her about this before this call.
What would have happened if we had been away for the weekend and missed this call?

We had some running around to do in town and stopped in to pick up this box.
It turns out that the box contained 500 ballots as well as a voters list among other things.
I wasn't able to see exactly what was in there since it was sealed before Cheryl took it out of the building.

She was only to open the box in the company of the station polling clerk while at the polling station this morning.
I assume that is what happened.

What I found interesting is that when Cheryl was picking up her box she said that there was a room packed with people being trained for election day.
Why had they not been trained earlier when Cheryl was?
Did they not realize that they needed training until receiving a call on Friday evening?
When Cheryl contacted her polling clerk to discuss election day the clerk was almost oblivious as to what she was required to do.
It wasn't Cheryl's place to train her polling clerk but she sought out information and passed it on as a favour.

The biggest, most interesting thing about all of this is that when Cheryl went to pick up the box containing the voters list and 500 ballots she was not asked for identification of any kind!
Anyone who was aware that she was a Deputy Returning Officer could have walked into that building saying they were my wife and walked out with a ballot box and 500 ballots.


It's possible that there was an error and the person handing over this stuff to her was actually supposed to see her identification and just forgot.
Or perhaps this person recognized her and didn't bother?

This is only one instance that I just happen to be aware of. I wonder about the rest of the country.

Get out and vote people. It's our right.

Stay well,

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