When a source – let’s call her Claude – contacted me when the federal election was called to tell me that she intended to vote 15 times in order to prove the weakness of the ballot security, I thought to myself that she was wrong and that she could not carry out this project.
But Claude was confident in his plan: an acquaintance voted four times in the 2015 elections, then ten times in the 2019 elections. This person successfully cheated two elections in a row without ever being in any way bothered afterwards. “It’s easy. I explain to you…”
By Lili Boisvert, with Naomie Gelper
Objections came to mind throughout my source’s explanations. She took them all apart.
I was still puzzled. If it was really that simple, cheating the electoral system to vote multiple times, how come no one is talking about it? I was under the impression that what I was being described was like the Wild West.
While researching the topic, I came across a 2019 report from Radio Canada. During the last election, the crown corporation carried out the exercise of testing whether it was possible to vote twice: once in advance, then once on polling day.
The tactics Claude’s acquaintance used made it possible to vote even more times. Much more.
Claude and I agreed that it was not necessary to go to the voting booth to prove the problem with the system. From the moment when we can register several times on the list of electors and each time the official offers to vote, the demonstration is made.
On polling day, Naomie, a journalist from Metro, went to the first polling station chosen by Claude, in a Montreal constituency. She saw Claude register for the first time on the electoral list. Claude had already voted in advance. No one pointed it out to him. So far, therefore, Claude could have voted twice.
We continued the exercise.
Claude and Naomie walked to the next polling station on the route, where Claude was able to register and be offered to vote again, using the same name as the previous polling station: his real name. The strategy involved a lie, yes, but not about his identity.
Then, Claude and Naomie walked towards the third polling station, where the same exercise was repeated without the slightest concern. Claude repeated it a fourth time. And a fifth. And a sixth. And a tenth… Naomie gave me an account of their journey, and I couldn’t believe it. On September 20, 2021, Claude was able to register on the electoral list 15 times.
At one point, the two polling stations were in buildings next to each other. We entered the first to register, then we entered the other without anyone noticing.
Their journey began at 9:30 a.m., when the polling stations opened, and ended at the end of the afternoon. It was not the closure of the offices that put an end to their stroll, it was their other obligations. Naomie, in particular, had to prepare to cover the election results in the evening.
Fifteen times. Claude was able to register 15 times on the electoral list.
How is it that no one at any of these polling stations noticed that something was wrong, that someone was walking around town and asking everywhere for ballots that they were not refused? not?
In order not to give the impression of inciting citizens to reproduce the fraud, we will not give the details of the method used by Claude’s friend in 2019 and 2015, and tested here. Let’s just say that the exercise requires less imagination than the character of DiCaprio in Catch Me If You Can.
Without revealing everything, we can still identify the heart of the problem that allows these potential successive votes. On the one hand, the flaw is due to the fact that one can register the same day of the election on the electoral list. On the other hand, it is attributable to the fact that the polling stations do not communicate with each other through a computerized system which would indicate that a person has already voted. The system does not see duplicates.
Today, in 2021, I have to have a QR code to go to a restaurant, but across Canada, no one can tell if I’m voting more than once.
I asked Claude if the same was possible with the provincial elections.
“No. Because of the referendum, the provincial rules have been tightened and you cannot register on polling day. ”
Canadians, we like to see ourselves as kind and polite people who say please and thank you. But is it enough to trust everyone’s good faith?
Systems are never perfect, okay. But the ease with which my source did succeed in his demonstration is striking. Claude could have voted 15 times in this election (in addition to his advance poll) without anyone stopping him. Without anyone noticing the redundancy of their identity on the electoral list.
Since yesterday, I have wondered how many other Canadians, like Claude’s acquaintance, have spent their afternoons voting when it comes time to elect the next government.
And I also wonder, next, what do I look like, me, with my little single ballot?