Nfld. & Labrador

Carbonear man says Elections NL told his father to sign twin brother's name on incorrect ballot

A man in Carbonear says his father received a mail-in ballot for his uncle — who hasn't registered to vote — and when his father contacted Elections NL to fix the situation, he was told to sign the name on the ballot, instead of his own.

Elections NL says officials would never instruct a someone to forge another person's signature

Kyle Brookings says his father Barry was told by Elections NL to forge Barry's twin brother's signature in order for his vote to count after receiving the wrong ballot in the mail. (Heather Gillis/CBC)

A man in Carbonear says his father received a mail-in ballot for his uncle — who hasn't registered to vote — and when his father contacted Elections NL to fix the situation, he was told to sign the name on the ballot, instead of his own.

Elections NL, however, said Saturday its staff would never provide such advice, and that it would be fraudulent for someone to sign another name on their ballot. 

Kyle Brookings says the voting package meant for his father, Barry, arrived in the mail bearing Barry's twin brother Bruce's name, so he reached out to the body that governs the province's elections.

"They basically told him that, at this point, everything is locked in for the election, so he would have to put his brother's signature on it and send it back if he wanted his vote to be counted," Brookings told CBC News of his father's dilemma on Saturday.

Brookings's father declined an interview with CBC.

Brookings says this is the blue declaration envelope his father Barry received, which has his brother's name instead of his own. (Heather Gillis/CBC)

In-person voting in the election was suspended on Feb. 12 following an outbreak of coronavirus variant B117 that resulted in mass resignations of Elections NL poll staff. 

As a result, voters in the province who hadn't taken part in the advance polling were left with only the special ballot option, with Friday as the deadline for ballots to be postmarked.

He said his father contacted Elections NL a second time, and was transferred to Elections Canada, which told him it was abnormal to be asked to put a different person's name on a declaration to return a ballot.

That leaves Brookings wondering if the election results will be legitimate in the end.

"He actually said he was shocked when he got it in the mail and saw that it was, in fact, his twin's name and then he went through the process trying to call them, trying to figure out, is there a way to to fix this before the deadline?" Brookings said.

"It seems like they're swamped and there's really nothing they can do. And it seems like their advice was to basically pretend he was his twin brother."

Brooking's father isn't the only voter to find mistakes with their ballot. A St. John's woman received a voting kit labelled with the wrong electoral district earlier this month.

Voters' confidence in Elections NL has also declined, as a CBC Vote Compass survey conducted after election's postponement found a majority of people surveyed  either disapproved or strongly disapproved of Elections NL's management of the election thus far.

'Certainly a miscommunication'

Elections NL says an Elections NL official would never tell somebody to misrepresent themselves, and doing so constitutes fraud. (CBC)

Elections NL told CBC News in a statement that an Elections NL official would never instruct someone to forge another person's signature or misrepresent themselves.

If the incident did happen, the organization said, there was "certainly a miscommunication between the election official and the elector."

"It would absolutely be election fraud for someone to sign someone else's name on the blue declaration envelope," the Elections NL statement reads. 

"Only an election official can assist an elector in completing the signature on a blue declaration envelope. Even then, the process is for the elector to mark an 'x' on the signature line, followed by the election official writing 'his or her mark' and their own initials."

Elections NL said Brookings's father can contact them directly to request a replacement voting kit, but Brookings said the family was told they will have to "wait and see."

"We tried calling. I sent an email to Elections Newfoundland and Labrador, we tried to contact the candidates running here to see if there's anything they can do. I even offered, is there a possibility we could go to St. John's and, maintaining social distancing, retrieve a ballot?" he said. 

"I think it really does throw the whole election into question. If he was told this, who's to say someone else was? And who's to say that if we see a district that's close, these votes are legitimate?"

Read more from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador

With files from Heather Gillis