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Is the Fair Elections Act unconstitutional? The answer may be in the numbers

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2. In 1993, a man voted twice in a Saskatchewan referendum, and pled guilty to charges. He was discharged conditionally and placed on probation for a period of six months. 

3. In 1997, a Quebec man voted twice in the federal election. He pled guilty to the offence, and in 1998 was sentenced to a fine of $100 plus costs.

4. An unqualified voter cast a ballot in the 1997 election, and pled guilty to charges under the Elections Act. The voter was given an absolute discharge after making a $300 charitable donation.

5. A third unqualified voter cast an unqualified ballot in Quebec in 1997 and plead guilty to charges. Following a charitable donation, the voter was given an absolute discharge.

6. In the 2000 election, an elector in Erie-Lincoln Ontario requested a second ballot and plead guilty to contravening section 7, thereby committing an offense under paragraph 483(b) of the Canada Elections Act. The person was fined $350.

7. In the 2004 election, James DiFiore of Trinity-Spadina was found guilty of wilfully applying to be included on a list of electors in one polling division while being already included on a list of electors for another polling division at the same election. He paid a $250 fine.

8. In the 2006 election, a Toronto man voted at the general election though he was not qualified as an elector as he was not a Canadian citizen. He pled guilty and before sentencing performed 30 hours of community service. The Court took into account his young age and that he did not intend to affect the vote. He was granted an absolute discharge.

If we’re examining hard data, it would appear the “salutary benefit” of infringing on the Charter right to vote is that it could have prevented a total of just eight cases of convicted voter fraud in over 20 years. On the other hand, the “deleterious effect” is that in future elections, over 120,000 voters per election may not be able to cast a ballot if vouching is scrapped.

The question that remains is: do eight votes constitute a reasonable case for potentially disenfranchising 120,000 people from voting in the next election?

The answer, it appears, is in the numbers.

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