Volume 93, Issue 5

Friday, June 11, 1999


NEWS

Bailie accused of "shotty" job

Teachers on the rise at Althouse

CPI increase means raise for USC

Tory backlash raises concern

Nurses extend arm to injured man

House of Commons votes pro pot

Two wheels better than four on Western bridge

Briefs

Stuff

In the city

Bailie accused of "shotty" job



By Sabrina Carinci
Gazette Staff



Late poll closures, threats and other voting mishaps are the basis of complaints made about last week's provincial elections run by Elections Ontario.

The elections, which resulted in the Progressive Conservatives winning a majority government for a second consecutive term, were allegedly cursed with negative incidents occurring throughout the day in some of the 103 Ontario ridings.

"There have been reports of bomb threats [to pollsters], pollsters not showing up, that people were in line so long they ripped up their forms and people not being allowed to vote," said Jack Siegel, legal council to the Liberal Party of Ontario.

Siegel explained for those not on the registered voting list, the province's voting system requires a piece of identification which has proof of address and a signature – information which is usually found only on a driver's license. "If you lost your license or don't have one, then you've lost your right to vote," he said.

Siegel added although he was upset about the numerous complaints surrounding the day, he was even more disappointed with the manner in which Elections Ontario ran the elections. "The number of people who were supposed to be on the voters list and weren't was appalling – I spent all day on the phone, taking one call after the other. It was nothing short of chaos," he said.

Bob Lopinski, senior advisor to Liberal leader Dalton McGuinty, shared Siegel's concerns and said McGuinty even called for the resignation of Warren Bailie, Chief Election Officer for Ontario. "The training was poor and the work was shotty," Lopinski said.

Bailie himself admitted he was displeased with the elections overall, but said he was confident he did everything possible to help rectify problems when they arose. "When I heard polls weren't opening, the first thing I wanted to do was make sure those polls were getting opened. I made a judgment that that was the thing to do – I make no apology for that," he said. Bailie added he would not comment on McGuinty's request for his resignation.

Lopinski said he doubted any of the problems which occurred on election day had an overwhelming effect on the outcome of the elections. The worst problem, he said, is some Canadian citizens were unable to vote.

"The whole basis for our democracy is that people who are eligible to vote, get to vote. Many, many people were denied their right to vote and that's unacceptable," he said.

Bruce Cox, provincial secretary for the New Democratic Party, disagreed with Lopinski and said the mass confusion surrounding the voters lists, the miscommunication between parties and especially the late closure of voting polls likely had a large effect on the final election results. "It is a proven fact that people are affected by early results shown on television," he said.

Bob Reid, press secretary for Premier Mike Harris, said the election results were extremely clear and it is unlikely there were any major problems. "The Liberals are just trying to make political hay out of this."


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Copyright The Gazette 1999