Windsor

More concerns raised after Town of Essex proxy papers found with mistakes

Carl Wilson Jr. is one of the 94 proxies named on the Town of Essex proxy list. It's the same list that has Ontario Provincial Police investigating concerns of voter fraud after proxies were allegedly signed without consent.

'If he did sign a proxy vote, why wouldn’t he ask me to vote for him?' says daughter

Carl Wilson Jr. name written on a proxy paper for the Town of Essex. His signature, which is required, is not found on the form. (Meg Roberts/CBC)

"My dad doesn't vote normally," said surprised Town of Essex resident Justine Wilson, staring at a proxy form with her father's name printed on it.

"If he did sign a proxy vote, why wouldn't he ask me to vote for him? I voted on Monday."

Wilson's father, Carl Wilson Jr.  is one of the 94 proxies named on the Town of Essex proxy list. It's the same list that has OPP investigating concerns of voter fraud after proxies were allegedly signed without consent.

Justine Wilson said her father told her he never voted, nor did he sign for a proxy to vote on his behalf. Wilson feels like her father was targeted because he doesn't usually show up at the polls.

"Maybe people knew that, or somebody knew that and they're saying 'he doesn't vote on a regular basis … so we can use his vote and he's never going to know.'"

After obtaining her father's proxy vote, CBC News has learned he did not sign his proxy form.

Justine Wilson stares at a proxy form with her father’s name printed on it after he told her he didn't vote in Monday's election. (Meg Roberts/CBC)

Incorrectly filed forms

Only two names are supposed to be on a proxy form: the person who is electing someone to vote for them and the appointed person. On Carl Wilson Jr.'s proxy paper there are three names found.

Where Carl Wilson Jr. was supposed to sign, was the signature of another man. Wilson's signature is not found anywhere on the form. The third name is that of the proxy voter.

Another issue with that form is the relationship status between the elector and electee is not filled out.

However, the paper has been signed off by the Town of Essex clerk.

"My dad said this is crazy … he is pretty upset about it," said Justine Wilson.

CBC News examined all 94 proxies, 85 of which are located in Ward 3 and 4, which is the Harrow area. Out of those 94 proxies, 31 of the papers had visible problems.

Those issues range from having missing names to not having signatures by the person electing someone to vote on their behalf.

Appointment for voting proxy forms. (Ministry of Municipal Affairs)

Hard to crack down

According to the co-founder of Democracy Watch and adjunct professor of law and politics at the University of Ottawa, the proxy system can easily be abused.

He said for a candidate or campaign manager who knows the community well, it could be quite easy to obtain voters lists and information that would allow them to target people who wouldn't normally vote.

He said it's hard to crack down on someone who has been doing this.

"After the fact, the judge is in an impossible position. Are you going to overturn the decision of thousands of people?" said Duff Conacher. "You can understand why people would do it given the current system."

Conacher said there is a one in 1,000 chance of getting caught and even if you are caught, there is another one in 1,000 chance of the election being overturned.

Duff Conacher, a professor with the University of Ottawa, says the proxy system can be easily abused. (Marc Robichaud/CBC)

'I am angered'

This doesn't sit well with Lori Atanasio, a Windsor woman who used to live in Harrow.

She said during the 2003 election, a Town of Essex candidate came to her door and demanded she sign a paper that would allow the candidate to be her proxy. She said she found it odd and told the person to leave.

"If a person can't vote, they can designate someone to vote for them by proxy. How is it that [they] can show up at people's doors and demand it," she said. "I am angered that a voting system can be used in a way that's not meant to."

"Our voting system is supposed to be secure," Atanasio said.

A spokesperson with the Town of Essex said the town is willing to do whatever it takes to instill confidence in voters, which is why they have passed on the complaints on to the OPP.

CBC News requested to speak to the Town of Essex clerk, however staff said he is not available until next week.

Corrections

  • An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated Lori Atanasio said during the 2003 election, a Town of Essex candidate came to her door and demanded she be a proxy for someone else — when in fact, Atanasio claims a Town of Essex candidate came to her door and demanded she sign a paper that would allow the candidate to be her proxy.
    Oct 29, 2018 4:10 PM ET

About the Author

Meg Roberts is a video journalist with CBC Newfoundland and Labrador, based in St. John's. Email her at meg.roberts@cbc.ca.