NEWS RELEASE · 9th November 2010
FIGHT HST QUESTIONS ELECTIONS BC ACTIONS AND TIMING ON RELEASE OF INITIATIVE PETITION “ERRORS”
Fight HST is questioning why Elections BC has taken action against a small number of individuals who may have inadvertently or accidentally signed the citizens Initiative petition to eliminate the Harmonized Sales Tax twice.
Fight HST is concerned that both the timing of Elections BC’s threatening letters to citizens and disclosing to the media that they have asked the RCMP to investigate the actions of seven registered canvassers may negatively affect Fight HST’s Recall campaign against BC Liberal MLAs.
“Elections BC has completely overreacted to the 1/3 of 1% of the 705,643 voter signatures obtained in the historic Fight HST citizens Initiative campaign that were somehow duplicates,” said Fight HST lead organizer Chris Delaney. “Sending intimidating letters to voters who made an honest mistake is incredibly heavy handed and wrong.”
Delaney said Fight HST will cooperate with the RCMP, but questions why news of the investigation was given to media without informing anti-HST proponent Bill Vander Zalm, and only a week before Fight HST is set to announce which BC Liberal MLAs will be the first subject to Recall campaigns.
“The Chief Electoral Officer has had this information for months, but only now decided to release it to the police and media? That is especially perplexing given that Elections BC told us from the beginning that if any signatures were accidentally duplicated, the extra signature would simply be discarded since all signatures had to be validated in their process.”
“Now they are acting like some people intentionally tried to deceive them. That is ridiculous. We have been inundated with emails from upset people all over BC saying that if they signed twice it was in an attempt to correct their address, or to put their formal name in place of a nick name," said Delaney.
Delaney said if any individual intentionally broke the rules they agreed to obey, then they should be held to account. "However, it is hard to imagine anyone deliberately duplicating a name, since all the canvassers knew that any invalid signatures would be discarded anyway. There was nothing to be gained by doing it."
Delaney said Elections BC is making a mountain out of a molehill, especially given that Acting Chief Electoral Officer Craig James has already stated that the potential infractions do not invalidate the Initiative.
“Ordinary citizens did the extraordinary by volunteering and signing to make this the first-ever successful citizens Initiative in Canada,” Delaney said. “Attempting to make this into CSI Victoria is an unnecessary scare tactic and a waste of police resources that should be used to investigate serious crimes.”