British Columbia

Elections BC finds no evidence of corrupt voting in Surrey-Fleetwood

The investigation was launched after B.C. Liberal candidate Garry Thind was accused of gathering voters' personal info to illegally request vote-by-mail packages.

Investigation launched after B.C. Liberal candidate Garry Thind accused of gathering voters' personal info

Mail-in ballots are expected to play a major role in the upcoming election in B.C. (Darryl Dyck/Canadian Press)

The B.C. Liberal candidate for Surrey-Fleetwood has been absolved of any wrongdoing following an Elections BC investigation into accusations of possible fraud. 

Last week the B.C. NDP alleged Gary Thind had violated the Elections Act by trying to collect personal information to request mail-in ballots for voters. 

On Saturday, Elections BC said it had concluded its investigation into the allegations and "found no evidence that corrupt voting has occurred." 

Requests on WhatsApp group

In a letter addressed to Elections BC, lawyer Rachel Roy said dozens of members of a WhatsApp group called "Garry Thind-Fleetwood" were asked to collect information including names, dates of birth, addresses, phone numbers, email addresses and a piece of government-issued identification from voters.

Screen shots showed Garry Thind was listed as one of the administrators of the group. 

In an email, B.C. Liberal Party spokesperson Carlie Pochynok said a campaign volunteer gave "team members" incorrect instructions in an effort to help voters request their mail-in ballots.

Voting by mail is available to all registered voters in B.C. this election due to COVID-19, but voters must request a mail-in ballot themselves through the Elections BC website. 

Voters need to provide personal information to receive a mail-in ballot, including a government-issued ID to identify themselves, and they must sign their envelope before sending it back.

Elections BC says it screens vote-by-mail package requests for suspicious patterns.

"The vote-by-mail system in B.C. has numerous checks and balances to ensure the integrity of the process," Elections BC said in a written statement. 

Anyone convicted of requesting a mail-in ballot on behalf of another person could be liable to a $20,000 fine, two years of imprisonment, or both.

They could also be banned from holding office as an MLA for up to seven years and banned from voting for seven years.

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