Canada

Toronto writer fined $250 for vote-early-and-often stunt

A Toronto writer has been found guilty of violating the Canada Elections Act by voting — or at least obtaining ballots — at three polling places in the 2004 federal election.

Wrote 'step-by-step account' of ballot cheating

A Toronto freelance journalist was found guilty Monday of violating the Canada Elections Act by voting — or at least obtaining ballots — at three polling places in the June 2004 federal election.

"If you have a favourite candidate who lost in this year's election, please pay special attention to the following," James DiFiore wrote in NOW Magazine, a Toronto alternative weekly.

"This is a step-by-step account of how our flawed system could have been exploited to commit fraud in the election."

In court more than 3½ years later, he was fined $250 — the amount, incidentally, he was paid for the article.

DiFiore said it was worth it because the law has since been amended. Voters now must show photo identification or be vouched for by another person.

"You know, a journalist can only expect or hope for change when they write a story —that something happens, that the story means something," he said outside the courthouse.

"So I'm happy that the story created, you know, some sort of change, albeit a slight one. It's just a little amendment to our federal elections act, but it's something."

Got three ballots but voted just once, he says

In his NOW article, he said he cast just one vote. He said he returned the second and third ballots to poll workers, telling them he had changed his mind.

Federal officials appear to have been unaware of his stunt until he wrote a letter to the editor of the Toronto Star in 2005.

"I decided to test the system by merely showing up at three different polling stations and demanding to exercise my democratic right to vote in the election," he wrote.

"All I had to do was stand my ground and tell the Elections Canada workers that I wanted to vote.

"So I voted — three times."

He was later quoted as saying the last sentence was accurate because the ballots he returned would have been counted as spoiled or rejected. He continued to deny casting more than one ballot.