New information released by a group challenging last year's federal election results in seven ridings shows almost no changes in polling station locations, eliminating one explanation offered by Conservatives for calls that gave voters the wrong information.
The Council of Canadians, which is supporting nine people in an application in federal court, provided an email Wednesday to reporters that shows only one polling station moved in the seven ridings in which Conservative wins are being challenged.
An Elections Canada investigation into calls that directed voters to the wrong polling station so far seems to be limited to Guelph, Ont., although Chief Electoral Officer Marc Mayrand says the agency has logged 800 confirmed complaints in 200 ridings.
Conservative MPs had suggested that one reason voters outside of Guelph were reporting calls that told them to go to the wrong polling stations was because some ridings did see changes to voting locations.
But an email from a lawyer for Elections Canada and released by the Council of Canadians says that was only the case in one of the seven ridings being challenged.
"I am advised that this [Vancouver Island North] is the only electoral district in the seven involved in these applications in which a change of polling station took place," Barbara McIsaac said in an email.
The email, which contained a document explaining the change, went to a number of lawyers, including Steven Shrybman, who's working for the Council of Canadians, Arthur Hamilton, a lawyer for the Conservative Party, and an address at the Department of Justice.
Conservative MPs have also suggested voter lists supplied by Elections Canada are riddled with mistakes, meaning callers volunteering for or hired by political parties may have the wrong addresses for the voters they're phoning.
Opposition MPs, however, have alleged a pattern of vote suppression across the country. The CBC's Terry Milewski has reported that many of the people who were misdirected had previously answered surveys where they said they didn't support the Conservative Party.
The seven ridings being challenged are:
- Don Valley East in Ontario, won by Conservative MP Joe Daniel by 870 votes.
- Nipissing-Timiskaming in Ontario, won by Conservative MP Jay Aspin by 18 votes.
- Saskatoon-Rosetown-Biggar in Saskatchewan, won by Conservative Kelly Block by 538 votes.
- Vancouver Island North in B.C., won by Conservative John Duncan by 1,827 votes.
- Winnipeg South Centre in Manitoba, won by Conservative MP Joyce Bateman by 722 votes.
- Elmwood-Transcona in Manitoba, won by Conservative MP Lawrence Toet by 300 votes.
- Yukon won by Conservative Ryan Leef by 132 votes.
The court can dismiss the complaints, but if it agrees with the applicants and finds there was fraud or irregularities, it could declare the results of the election in those ridings null and void.