The difficult fight against election fraud

Elections Canada released a discussion paper this week that explained the challenges of cracking down on robocall fraud and harassment.

In addition to the Guelph calls, the paper acknowledges for the first time that Elections Canada has received complaints of harassing live telephone calls at odd hours from the U.S. These are described as “numerous, repetitive, annoying or sometimes aggressive live or automated calls, as well as calls made late at night, on a religious holiday or from American area codes, purportedly from candidates whose campaigns have subsequently often denied making the calls.”

Such deceptive calls appear to be prohibited by Elections Act clauses that forbid preventing voters from casting their ballots, but the structure of the law makes it difficult to enforce, the agency reports. Even though the penalties for the breaking the elections law are light, investigators must follow the more onerous procedures required in criminal investigations. This creates “a significant imbalance between these lengthy and cumbersome procedures and the small fines that may be imposed as a result of a guilty finding, thus limiting the deterrent effect of such a finding.”

The full report is here.

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