Democracy Watch plans court challenge of Elections Ontario's failure to inform voters of their right to decline their ballot
Information and ads during election campaign missing key messages to encourage voter turnout
September 22, 2011
Democracy Watch also called on Elections Ontario to produce new advertising with key messages to encourage voters to turn out at the polls.
On the main pages of its "We Make Voting Easy" website,
Elections Ontario does not mention that Ontario voters
have the right under section 53 of the Elections Act 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
In addition to the incomplete information on its website, Elections Ontario's newspaper advertisements and voter information cards mailed to voters also fail to mention the right to decline your ballot, even though both have lots of blank space in which this information could have been provided.
As a result, Elections Canada is failing to properly use its legal powers to educate voters about their voting rights (set out in sections 114.1 and 114.2 of the Ontario Elections Act).
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."
claims to put the needs of voters first, but
continues to fail to respond to media coverage and
calls to inform voters with its website, advertising
and voter information mailings that they have the
legal right to decline their ballot," said
Duff Conacher, Founding Director of Democracy
Watch. "As a
result, Democracy Watch is exploring a court
challenge against Elections Ontario to try to stop
its negligent and undemocratic failure to inform
voters of their full voting rights." (To see Democracy
Watch's August 24, 2011 news release, click here, and
to see some of the related media coverage, click
here and click
"Some voters may
not support any party that has a candidate in their
riding, or may not support any of the parties'
platforms, and they have the right to be informed by
Elections Ontario 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:
Elections Ontario has failed to inform voters for the
past 20 years of their right to decline their ballot
in the printed material sent to voters, and print,
billboard, TV and radio advertisements about voting.
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:
"As it has in past
elections, Elections Ontario is again spending
hundreds of thousands of dollars on an ad campaign
that has the wrong messages, and again negligently
failing to inform voters of their right to decline
their ballot, so no one should expect voter turnout
to increase significantly in the October provincial
election," said Conacher.
The federal government, and every provincial and
territorial government, should add the right to vote
"none of the above" and to give a reason, to their
election laws (include the election laws for municipal
elections in each jurisdiction).
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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