British Columbians charged with trying to vote twice in 2015 federal election
2 people are accused of requesting second ballots after already voting and making false statements
Two British Columbians are facing charges under the Canada Elections Act for allegedly trying to vote twice in the 2015 federal election.
The unusual charges were sworn this week in B.C. Provincial Court in relation to a pair of investigations.
According to court documents obtained by CBC, both Renato Molina and Mai Huong Le Ngoc are accused of requesting a second ballot after having already voted by special ballot in the 42nd General Election.
They are also both charged with making a false statement in an application for a special ballot and with applying for another ballot. Le Ngoc was also charged with having a ballot in her possession that she was unauthorized to have.
The offences involving Molina allegedly occurred in Burnaby on Oct. 7, 2015 — just under two weeks before the Oct. 19 vote. The ones involving Le Ngoc allegedly happened on election day.
A total of four charges
The general election saw Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's Liberal party win a majority government with 184 seats. Former prime minister Stephen Harper's Conservatives took 99 seats, and the NDP won 51 seats.
Neither Molina nor Le Ngoc could be reached for comment.
Charges under the Canada Elections Act in relation to voting irregularities are rare.
Two Ontario women — Clara Robyn Suraski and Lauren Bayla Suraski — were charged in provincial court last September with requesting second ballots after already voting in the 2015 election.
Lauren Bayla Suraski was also charged with applying to "be included in a list of electors for a polling division in which she was not ordinarily resident."
The outcome of those charges is still pending.
According to the commissioner of Canada Elections' 2015-2016 annual report, the 2015 general election sparked a number of complaints of individuals accused of trying to vote twice by covering their faces.
"In most cases, these complaints were filed after the alleged 'double voters' had posted statements on social media claiming that, by covering their faces, they were able to vote twice," the annual report said.
But after examining 34 complaints, the commissioner concluded none had resulted in an elector having voted twice.
'Effects on the integrity of the electoral process'
In 2014, a former member of a Conservative riding association in southern Ontario reached a compliance agreement with Elections Canada after he tried to vote twice in the 2011 General Election.
Bryan Richard Vandrekruk's statement was published in the Canada Gazette. He admitted to asking for a second ballot on May 2, 2011, after having voted in an advance poll on April 23.
"I am aware of the prohibition against requesting a second ballot after having voted at the same federal election," Vanderkruk's statement said.
"I sincerely regret having requested a second ballot, an act that could constitute an offence under the (Canada Elections) Act, and I appreciate the gravity of my actions and their effects on the integrity of the electoral process."
The compliance agreement also states that the acknowledgement of non-compliance "did not constitute a guilty plea in the criminal sense."
If cases do go to trial, penalties can reach as high as $50,000 and up to five years in jail.
Molina and Le Ngoc are scheduled to appear in court in January.
None of the charges against them have been proven in court.