Fair Elections Act will hurt thousands of low income Hamilton voters, says group

Hamilton community groups concerned about the potential impacts of the Fair Elections Act on local voters will gather at City Hall Friday morning for an information forum.

Information forum at 9 a.m. at City Hall on Friday

A Fredericton voter received a used ballot. (Chris Young/Canadian Press)

Organizers of a rally against the Hamilton Fair Elections Act say it will exclude between 7,000 and 10,000 Hamiltonians from voting.

Community groups concerned about the potential impacts of the on local voters will gather at City Hall Friday morning for an information forum. 

The federal government’s Bill C-32 proposes changes to the rules around voting, including loosening spending rules and restricting the use of voter information cards previously tested in 2011 as an Elections Canada pilot project,

The Hamilton Roundtable for Poverty Reduction and community partners organizing the forum said the Fair Elections Act will make it more challenging for low-income Hamiltonians to cast ballots.

The proposed legislation will ban vouch voting, whereby a guardian or friend living in the same polling division could swear an oath confirming a voter’s identity.

“The removal of vouch voting in C-23 will affect the approximately 4,000 individual men and women who emergency shelters in Hamilton each year as well as the estimated 3,000 to 6,500 women alone who live in hidden homelessness” said Laura Cattari, roundtable member and organizer of the event. 

Hamilton MPs planning to attend

Several local MPs including David Christopherson (Hamilton Centre), Chris Charlton (Hamilton Mountain) and Wayne Marston (Hamilton East - Stoney Creek) are likely to attend the event. 

The politicians committed to organizers of the forum that they will bring Hamiltonians’ comments back to Ottawa as part of the ongoing debate. 

Hamilton Wentworth District School Board Trustee Alex Johnstone and McMaster Student Union representative Eric Gillis will discuss the Bill’s impact on educators and students.

The forum will also include Rosemary Russell of the Council of Canadians, McMaster Political Science professor Peter Graefe, Evelyn Myrie of the Hamilton Centre for Civic Inclusion and Audra Petrulis of YWCA Hamilton. 

The event gets underway at 9 a.m. in the council chambers of Hamilton City Hall.