Peterborough voter says he got pre-marked ballot at advance poll

A Peterborough, Ont. student insists he was given a pre-marked ballot when he went to vote at the advance polls on Thanksgiving Monday, but Elections Canada says there are no official reports of that happening.

Elections Canada say they have no record of the instance occuring

A voter leaves an advance polling station last week. A Peterborough student says he got a pre-marked ballot while voting on Thanksgiving Monday. Elections Canada say they have no record of the instance. (Marta Iwanek/Canadian Press)

A Peterborough, Ont. student says he was given a pre-marked ballot when he went to vote at the advance polls on Thanksgiving Monday, but Elections Canada says they have no record of it.

Jeff Campbell, a 23-year-old political science student at Trent University, says he voted at the Lions Community Centre in his Peterborough—Kawartha riding and watched the polling officials rip a ballot out of their book, initial it and give it to him.

When he got to the voting booth, he says he looked down at it and noticed an X marked beside the name of the Conservative candidate for the area.

"This was a very clearly marked X in the ballot. Not... streaks or a smudge or anything like that. It was very obviously intended to mark a vote," he told CBC News on Saturday.

"My first thought was maybe they just handed me somebody else's ballot that had just come through, but it wasn't. They looked it up, it was matched up in the book with what they meant to give me so it must have been something else."

Campbell says poll officials very apologetically replaced it with a blank ballot. He said they made sure the pre-marked ballot he had gotten was spoiled.

Elections Canada has 'no official reports'

James Hale, a media adviser with Elections Canada, says there are no official reports of this happening in the riding.

"The procedure for dealing with a spoiled ballot is well documented," he said in a written statement.

"Although printing errors can, on rare occasions, cause ink streaking on the ballots, which are jointly bound in books."

Last week, a Vancouver teacher who voted in an advance poll was given two pre-marked ballots, which had black streaks next to the Conservative and Green Party candidates' names. Elections Canada blamed the instance on printing issues, calling it "extremely rare."

Campbell, who identifies as a Liberal supporter, says his ballot did not look like a printing error.

"It very clearly looked like a handwritten X and it seemed like pencil."

Campbell posted a public status update on his Facebook page on Monday night, sharing his story and reminding voters to "be careful when voting." That post has now been shared more than 2,300 times.

Jeff Campbell posted a public status on Facebook, sharing his story and reminding voters to 'be careful when voting.' The post has been shared more than 2,300 times. (Jeff Campbell/Facebook)

He has filed a complaint with Elections Canada, but has yet to hear back. He also reported it to the office of Maryam Monsef, the local Liberal candidate, whose team was going to follow up with Elections Canada. The office said they were aware of the alleged incident when contacted by CBC News Saturday.

"It could have been someone making a mistake or something, but it does seem very fishy to me that this kind of thing was able to happen," Campbell said.

The Peterborough—Kawartha riding has been without a member of Parliament since last November, when Dean Del Mastro resigned from the House of Commons after being found guilty of spending too much on his 2008 election campaign and covering it up.


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