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Victory for voters: Let's fix the Elections Act

Updated: Dec 3, 2018

Dear New Democrat, This week, the Newfoundland and Labrador Supreme Court said that our province's Elections Act needs fixing. In 2011, NDP candidate Julie Mitchell ran in the district of Burin-Placentia West against Progressive Conservative candidate Clyde Jackman who won by 40 votes, having received 179 special ballot votes to Mitchell’s 130. Without special ballots, Mitchell would have won the seat by nine votes. Under the current Elections Act, a person can cast their vote by special ballot before an election has been called, and before the slate of candidates is announced. While many candidates wait until an election has officially been called to announce their candidacy, the current system allows incumbents an extra few weeks to encourage special balloting. Justice Gillian Butler decided that these rules for special ballots violate the Charter of Rights and Freedoms guaranteeing every citizen the right to vote. In her ruling, she deemed the provisions for special ballots “inconsistent with the Constitution and of no force and effect.” Special ballots provide an unconstitutional, unfair advantage to incumbents. The current rules infringe on voters' rights to be informed and knowingly cast their ballots and need to be changed. What it comes down to is, we need legislation that ensures fairness for voters and candidates. The judgement is clear - let's fix our provincial Elections Act now. Yours truly,

Earle McCurdy, Leader, NL NDP



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