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Green MLA calls for more time to consider Election Amendment Act

Media Statement – May 26, 2015

Green MLA calls for more time to consider Election Amendment Act

For Immediate Release

Victoria, B.C. – Andrew Weaver, M.L.A. for Oak Bay-Gordon Head and Deputy Leader of the B.C. Green Party, introduced an amendment today that called for an additional six months to consider the significant consequences of Bill 20 – the Election Amendment Act. If the bill is enacted, it would provide political parties with private information concerning who did or did not vote in a previous election or by-election. It also creates an election financing free-for-all in the pre-writ period.

With comprehensive individual voter turnout records, political parties can match voter records to their existing data on who their opponents’ supporters are. Any matches can be targeted with highly efficient voter suppression tactics to keep opponents’ supporters away from the polls. These tactics are already common in elections, but their effectiveness varies based, in part, on the quality of targeting data.

With the elimination of pre-writ spending limits, the government has opened the doors for more money to pour into B.C. elections. This further increases the issues of election financing in BC – a jurisdiction that already allows anyone in the world to donate to BC political parties, and allows union and corporate donations.

“This bill will have serious consequences for our democracy,” says Andrew Weaver. “There is no evidence that these changes will increase voter turnout and government knows it. British Columbian’s were never asked whether they wanted these changes – I think we need to give them time to have a say.”

Yesterday during committee stage debates, Minister of Justice, Suzanne Anton, acknowledged the lack of substantive evidence to support the government’s claim that this would improve voter turnout, stating: “This is not based on peer-reviewed literature. This is based on election organization experience.”

“As it stands, this Bill offers clear tools to suppress the vote but only offers the government’s word that it will increase it,” says Weaver. “The fact that this information is being provided after an election raises significant fears that it will be used for voter suppression. The Privacy Commissioner has been clear that the bill needs to be amended. We need more time to address her concerns and to consult the evidence.”

Andrew Weaver’s amendment was supported by Independent MLA Vicki Huntington and by the Official Opposition. It was defeated by the government on a vote.

Bill 20 requires Royal Assent before it is formally enact into law.

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Mat Wright

Press Secretary – Andrew Weaver, MLA

Cell: 250 216 3382

Mat.Wright@leg.bc.ca

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