Elections Ontario continues to fail to inform voters of their full voting rights
Information and ads during election campaign must have key messages to encourage voter turnout
August 24, 2011
On the main pages of its "We Make Voting Easy" website, Elections Ontario does not mention that Ontario voters have the right to decline their ballot and have it counted separately from a vote for a candidate or a spoiled ballot. The sub-pages on the website, including the page entitled "Voting in Person", also fail to inform voters of this right.
Elections Ontario's civics education program "Voting Rules Fact Sheet" is likely also incorrect, and as a result is misleading young voters on their voting rights.
Chief Electoral Officer Greg Essensa's message on the Elections Ontario website says "We are on a mission to make voting easy, and that means putting the needs of the elector first."
"Elections Ontario claims to put the needs of voters first, but isn't even providing voters with information about all their voting rights. This is negligent and undemocratic, and the information must be added to their website immediately," said Duff Conacher, Founding Board member of Democracy Watch. "Some voters may not support any party that has a candidate in their riding, and they need to know that they have the right to vote for 'none of the above' by declining their ballot."
53 of Ontario's Election Act states as follows:
Democracy Watch is also very concerned that, as in past elections since 1990, Elections Ontario's printed material sent to voters, and TV and radio advertisements about voting will also mislead voters by failing to mention the right to decline your ballot and have it counted as a declined ballot.
Democracy Watch was consulted by Elections Ontario in the spring about its planned voter information and advertising campaign, and suggested very strongly that the information and the ads must mention the right to decline your ballot. As well, it strongly suggested that if the ads hope to encourage higher voter turnout, they must also contain the following key messages:
"If Elections Ontario again spends hundreds of thousands of dollars on an ad campaign that has the wrong messages as it has in past elections, and again negligently fails to inform voters of their right to decline their ballot, no one should expect voter turnout to increase significantly in the October provincial election," said Conacher.
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FOR MORE INFORMATION, CONTACT:
Duff Conacher, Board member of Democracy Watch
Tel: (613) 241-5179
Democracy Watch's Ontario Election 2011 page
Email: <dwatch "@" web.net>
© 2011 Democracy Watch