What we're talking about when we talk about voter suppression - Macleans.ca

What we’re talking about when we talk about voter suppression

There seem to be three kinds of election mischief being discussed in relation to the last federal campaign

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Daniel Lobo/Flickr

At this point in the story, there seem to be three kinds of election mischief being discussed in relation to the last federal campaign. And it is probably worth differentiating between them.

Type 1. Late night or otherwise annoying calls purporting to be from one campaign or another, presumably intended to bring that campaign into disrepute. These have been alleged in various ridings with reports of calls coming at odd hours or callers being rude and offensive.

Type 2. Automated calls—”robocalls”—carrying messages that convey incorrect or misleading information about a voter’s polling station.

Type 3. Calls from live human callers who convey incorrect or misleading information about a voter’s polling station.

It is types 2 and 3 that I have focused on and, in that regard, I have so far identified 14 ridings where such claims are being made (see here and here). It seems to me that these are the most serious allegations, it being an offence under the Elections Act to “wilfully prevent or endeavour to prevent an elector from voting at an election.” For those 14 ridings, it is mostly unclear (to me at least) which calls were automated and which involved an actual person on the other end of the line, except in the case of Guelph, which seems to have involved robocalls.