08 November 2010

My own electoral grandpa: vote in an election that isn’t happening yet

Danny Williams is worried that local politics is being more like the American system.

Much like the more benighted souls in some parts of Eastern Europe, most of Africa and gigantic chunks of the Middle East, Newfoundlanders and Labradorians could only dream of such a thing.

You see, even though they live in one of the most civilised places in the world – Canada – they are subjected to electoral laws introduced since 2003 that make it possible for people to vote in elections that don’t actually exist. Talk about making a mockery of our democratic legacy.

News of the latest version of this farce came from ads in the local papers.  in itself that is another reminder of the backward steps for democracy taken in this province since 2003.  Where once the chief electoral officer was a non-partisan public servant, the last two have been partisans.  One was a former Liberal cabinet minister. 

The current one had to resign from his seat on a party organizing committee in order to take the job. The party, of course, is the province’s Reform-based Conservative Party, and the guy who currently serves as chief electoral officer used to be the president of that highly partisan crowd.


This is yet another one of those things you could not make up.  You could not make it up because it is the most ridiculous idea imaginable in a democracy.

Yet it exists as the law in this province.  It’s one of a package of “reforms” introduced by the governing Conservatives after 2003 that turned out to be more of a farce than not.  Meanwhile, the meaningful reforms Danny Williams promised in 2003 - new campaign finance laws, for one - simply vanished as if they never existed.  What was it he used to say about unkept promises?

And if you enjoyed this little tidbit of electoral idiocy, consider the version in 2007 when Williams called a by-election that never actually happened.  This was the original version of “I am my own electoral grandpa”.

- srbp -


Wm. Murphy said...

Ed....you remind me of the kid sitting in the emergency room with a blister demanding that you see an Internist.

Again much to do about nothing. A classic case of desperately looking for a "major" problem where no problem exists.

A few points:

The Election Office is only announcing that Special ballott APPLICATIONS are available for those eligible. As Mark Watton said this is also done in Manitoba. It was also done in the previous byelections without any issue since the Act changed. Maybe it's another thing that the conventional media missed!!!

If you have a look at the application you will see a section that says FOR OFFICE USE ONLY (Ballot Tracking)
Under that section there 5 options to be included by the officials

1.In HouseVoting (Ballot Received)
2.Elector Has Taken the Ballot with him/her
3.Ballot mailed
4.Ballot Completed at PCH or Hospital
5. Other

So Ed, would you mind telling us what the big deal is in "getting ready" for the byelection. Would you mind telling us what the Electoral Office is going to fill out when a "BALLOT" is not yet ready to go? If the election is not called, candidates not chosen...then what prey tell will they be sending out?

Once again you have tried to create a storm without a teapot.

We all know that the byelection will happen in the prescribed legislative time. We now know who the electoral contacts are, we now know the office hours and locations and we all know that a Special Ballott is avaialble....sounds sensible to me.

How is this a farce???

Mark said...

In Manitoba you can request, in advance, to have a special ballot sent to you after the election is called, but you can't actually cast the friggin' thing as you can here.

Mark said...

Wm. The biggest problem occurs during a general election, where incumbent Members can spend a month stuffing the ballot boxes before their competitors are legally allowed to even be nominated. If you don't see a problem with that, then I really don't know what more to tell ya.

Wm. Murphy said...


a ballot needs names...what are you going to "cast" when there are no "choices" confirmed? There are no Ballots printed because there are no names to put on it...

I am talking about the upcoming byelection...not a general election. In this case, the Office has only communicated to the public that the Applications for special ballot are available. So what??

Mark said...

Actually Murph, you're wrong. You can vote. And you can even get a ballot if you don't live in the district. All you have to do is state that you believe you will live in the district on polling day, even though you don't really know when polling day is. That's good enough under the Act.

You can vote for a party, and you can vote for the name of anyone you think may be running.

I'm not making this up. It's as if it was drawn up with crayons.

And it received unanimous support in the House because incumbents of all stripes knew it would give them a great advantage over their opponents. (This last point is less relevant during a by-election, which obviously has no incumbent, but still...)

Edward Hollett said...

So Mark, just let me make sure I am clear about this:

Murph doesn't have a sweet clue about what he's talking about.

He is completely OTL.

Have I got that right?

Frankly I am shocked to hear that Murph is full of it. Shocked and astounded.

Wm. Murphy said...

so if I hear you right...you are saying that someone can write down on the "special ballot" Liberal and that will be recorded as a vote for the Liberal candiate that has not yet been nominated?

Are you also saying that someone can "vote" for Tommy Toe even though Tommy Toe has no interest in putting his name forward in the election?

While all this sounds bizarre there is a clause in the regs that will mitigate this foolishness. It is....

When an elector’s application to vote by Special Ballot has been approved, that elector may only vote by Special Ballot.

One would assume that nothing will be approved if the candidates have not been put in place...Yes??
If the case, this is not a big deal is it?

Mark said...

"One would assume that nothing will be approved if the candidates have not been put in place...Yes?"

That would be the way things work in a normal democracy.

Unfortunately in Dannystan, it's not the case.

Welcome to the other side, Murph.

BTW - the passage you just cited means that if someone applies for a Special ballot (which is a write in ballot) their name is removed from the list so they cannot show up and vote again on polling day.

A special ballot is essentially a blank piece of paper on which you scribble in a candidate's name. The electoral office allows you to write in a party name if you wish. Or a Leader's name, based on my inquiry from two years ago.

For example. you can already vote for any of the names currently being bandied about - even though none of them, can officially register as candidates until day 10 of the writ period. It's ridiculous. All of it.

Mark said...

The whole purpose of the provision is to allow people to vote before there are candidates in place. It makes no sense.

Edward Hollett said...

Not content to just merely be embarrassed he goes for outright humiliation, ladies and gentlemen.

The section you quoted means that a person can only vote by special ballot, once the application is approved. in other words the person cannot go into a polling station and vote again.

But that is not the same as voting for the party or anyone they want to write in before an election has even been called... or, if you actually read Mark's comment - not even have to live in the district or the province to get a ballot.

Yes it is crazy but that's what the law says.

Wm. Murphy said...

Your wrong Ed..... you have to have something in place for the Electoral Office to approve the Ballot. If the details of the election are not finalized they cannot approve anything.

Nice try Tonto

Mark said...

someone can write down on the "special ballot" Liberal and that will be recorded as a vote for the Liberal candiate that has not yet been nominated?


Are you also saying that someone can "vote" for Tommy Toe even though Tommy Toe has no interest in putting his name forward in the election?


It's all in the act, and if you can't believe it, as I couldn't, just call the office - they'll set you straight.
You can tell them today that you will be living on Bell Island on voting day, even though they don;t even know when voting day is, and they'll send you a ballot tomorrow. That's how it works.

You have to be of voting age and a resident of Newfoundland for 6 months to be approved, but beyond that, it's easy-peasy.

Edward Hollett said...

And that's the point: the details of the election, as you put it, do not have to be in place.

Deny it all you want.

WJM said...


Read the Dannystan Elections Act.

Mark said...