Sept 15th update: the Office of the Commissioner of Canada Elections is investigating. Details are at the end of the post.
StandUpWindsor affiliates received eight reports of voter suppression in Windsor on September 13, 2021.
Mask-exempt voters have been turned away from their assigned advance polling stations for their mask exemptions. They have been ordered to cast their vote all the way outside the city, in Tecumseh, at 13300 Tecumseh Rd E. Naturally, this makes voting relatively difficult for them, as they may not be able to follow through and cast their vote.
Signs posted in Windsor polling stations corroborate this:
This is in contravention of the law and contravention of Elections Canada’s stated policy: “Electors who cannot wear a mask for medical reasons will not be required to wear one, and they will not be asked for proof of medical exemption […] Electors who are exempt from wearing a mask for medical or other reasons will be allowed entry to the polling station.”
StandUpWindsor affiliate, and pending PPC scrutineer, Derek, spoke with one of the election officers accused of demanding proof of exemption and turning a voter away for not providing that proof:
It seems this elections officer has been caught lying about demanding proof of mask exemption in order to vote.
First, why does he demand to not be recorded? What does he have to hide? He’s on the job with a deep responsibility to the public.
In the video, he claims he demanded proof of exemption, and then when presented with the Elections Canada requirement to accept exemptions without demanding proof, he says… Oh, actually he didn’t demand proof of exemption after all. Yeah, right!
People who know to stand up for their rights, by freeing their faces in keeping with their mask exemptions, are more likely to be voting PPC. And these people are having their votes obstructed.
The same day, Derek followed up on a separate report, in which a man was expected, without exception, to cover his face to participate in democracy, in spite of his exemption.
The ensuing confrontation with elections officers resulted in Derek being directed to the Returning Officer (RO) for the area, Mark Moore.
Mark Moore asserted the following: the City ordered that all City-owned facilities used as polling stations must refuse all mask exemptions. Despite this being in contravention of the law, and in contravention of Elections Canada policy, Mark Moore chose to obey this order. That is, it appears he decided to obey an order given from a position under (that is, subordinate to) his own authority.
Derek’s calls to the City of Windsor and the Health Unit (WECHU) turned up no knowledge of any such bylaw, health order or directive. Elections Canada forwarded Derek’s call back to Mark Moore, who then ascribed the no-exemptions order to Windsor Parks and Recreation.
The Windsor Parks and Recreation supervisor denied that there is any order to disrespect mask exemptions, citing an Elections Canada permit signed by the City of Windsor, in which City facilities acting as polling stations commit to abide by regulations and guidelines set by provincial and local boards of health. The supervisor recognized medical exemptions and stated that the claim that medical exemptions are disallowed is “not true. Medical exemptions are allowed.”
Video compilation of the above:
Summary of above video, with timestamps:
00:00 – Elections Canada website: “Electors who cannot wear a mask for medical reasons will not be required to wear one, and they will not be asked for proof of medical exemption […] Electors who are exempt from wearing a mask for medical or other reasons will be allowed entry to the polling station.”
00:17 – WFCU polling station – Confrontation shows the election staff denied a voter access to the polling station for his masking exemption. Staff member Evette directs Derek to Mark [Moore], Returning Officer, to the Elections Canada office in Tecumseh (Green Valley Plaza).
5:10 – Mask exempt Windsor voters are being systematically turned away from their polling stations and directed outside of the city in order to cast their vote, seriously inhibiting their ability to vote. A sign posted in another polling station confirms that this is happening.
5:29 – Returning Officer Mark Moore asserts that the City of Windsor has ordered all polling stations rented from the City to refuse all mask exemptions, and to turn mask-exempt voters away from their polling stations and require them to vote outside the city, without exception.
8:00 – A representative of the City of Windsor asserts no knowledge of any order to disrespect mask exemptions in area polling stations. The representative respects exemptions and respects that proof of exemption is not required.
11:22 – A representative of the Windsor-Essex County Helth Unit (Elaine) asserts no knowlege of any order to disrespect mask exemptions in area polling stations. The representative respects exemptions and acknowledges that proof of exemption is not required.
16:31 – Elaine from the WECHU calls back with more information. She acknowledges the authority of Elections Canada in this issue and recommends calling them.
17:59 – A representative of Elections Canada (Elaine) forwards the query back to Returning Officer Mark Moore. Moore cites Windsor Parks & Recreation as the source of the requirement to deny mask exemptions. (As if Windsor municipal Parks & Rec has authority over Elections Canada!)
20:23 – A representative of Windsor Parks & Rec (Jenny) cites her supervisor’s claim that Parks & Rec adheres to provincial and federal guidelines. The supervisor comes on the line, and cites an Elections Canada permit signed by the City of Windsor, in which City facilities acting as polling stations commit to abide by regulations and guidelines set by provincial and local boards of health. She recognizes medical exemptions and states that the claim that medical exemptions are disallowed is “not true. Medical exemptions are allowed.”
How is this not textbook voter suppression?
“Voter suppression is a strategy used to influence the outcome of an election by discouraging or preventing specific groups of people from voting.” [Wikipedia]
Even if City of Windsor facilities did order polling stations to illegally refuse mask exemptions, why has Mark Moore given the municipality precedence over Elections Canada?
Canada Elections Act. Sections 282.6, 491.2(1)(s) and 500(5)(b):
282.6 No person shall prevent or attempt to prevent an elector from voting at an election.
491.2(1) Every person is guilty of an offense who
(s) knowingly contravenes section 282.6 (preventing elector from voting)
(5) Every person who is guilty of an offence under any of subsections 480(1) and (2), 480.1(1), 481(1) and 482(1), section 482.1, subsections 484(3), 485(2), 486(3) and (4), 487(2), 488(2) and 489(3), section 490, subsection 491(3), section 491.2, subsection 492(2), section 494, subsections 495(5), 495.1(2), 495.2(2), 495.21(2), 495.3(2), 496(2), 496.1(2), 497(2), 497.1(3), 497.2(3), 497.3(2), 497.4(2), 497.5(2), 498(2) and 499(2) is liable
(b) on conviction on indictment, to a fine of not more than $50,000 or to imprisonment for a term of not more than five years, or to both.
Why shouldn’t Returning Officer Mark Moore be reported to Elections Canada — or even Windsor Police — for interfering with the 2021 federal election by facilitating voter suppression?
Update from Currie, Sept 15: I called Windsor Police this morning. They took the complaint seriously, and put me in touch with an investigator at Elections Canada who called me back promptly and took my report. I then spoke with John at the Office of the Commissioner of Canada Elections; this office is tasked with ensuring Elections Canada adheres to the Canada Elections Act. John assured me that this matter is being taken seriously and should be cleared up before election day. He will get back to me with updates.
New music video. Welcome to Windsor: The Fighting Spirit of Ontario