Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Voter ID means Voter Supression

The results in Northern Saskatchewan, where new voter ID laws are partly to blame for the staggeringly low turnout, aren't an unintended consequence of voter ID, they were the explicit goal.
Liberal campaign officials were left shaking their heads Monday night, wondering where their support had gone. In the 2006 election, they won a narrow victory with slightly more than 10,000 votes. As turnout plummeted to 25 per cent in the riding, they took only 3,287 votes, compared with 4,996 for Mr. Clarke. They blamed their poor numbers partly on complacency among supporters who thought their candidate, former NDP cabinet minister Joan Beatty, had the riding sewn up, and on new election regulations that complicated the voting process for people on reserves. They say hundreds of people may have been prevented from voting because they didn't have photo ID and couldn't present proof of a civic address.
Don't weep for the Liberals, they mostly dug their own grave with Ralph Goodale's jealous knee-capping of David Orchard - another indicator, if anyone still needs one, of which side the Liberals are on now. Orchard had a built in campaign machine that could have got out the vote for his candidacy. His decision to sit the election out, and local anger at local democracy being over-ridden by arrogant party elites lost the Liberals what could have been a byelection clean-sweep.

But the real story is how the new photo-id and address requirements disenfranchised huge swaths of the rural voters of Northern Saskatchewan. The law should face a charter challenge, it so disproportionally affects natives and the poor.

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