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LETTER: Accepting and addressing Newfoundland and Labrador's vote suppression

Voting makes a difference. Don’t forfeit your right to make a choice. —
Only approximately 48 per cent of eligible voters had their say in the last provincial election. — 123RF Stock Photo

Democracy, at times, can get muddy, and when it does, action is needed to ensure that not only is the right to vote restored, but that access is simplified to ensure that voter participation levels can be maximized.

There must be a collective acceptance now that a 48 per cent voter participation rate is truly insufficient for our democracy in Newfoundland and Labrador. Areas with poor internet and cell coverage were at a clear disadvantage in ordering their ballots during the recent provincial election. Moreover, the further one lived from St. John’s, the ability to return ballots on time became problematic. The right to vote should not be based on where one lives in this great province.

There must be a collective acceptance now that a 48 per cent voter participation rate is truly insufficient for our democracy in Newfoundland and Labrador.

I have always favoured action versus sanctimonious platitudes. As such, I offer these recommendations to address future voter suppression in Newfoundland and Labrador:

1. Have Elections Newfoundland and Labrador (Elections NL) update the voter list from the upcoming Canadian census.

2. Automatically send out the mail-in special ballots, like with the voter cards, if there is a province wide need for them.

3. If used province wide, have the ballots collected at area post offices for local poll count and scrutiny.

4. Provide special ballot access to remote work locations in the province, like offshore platforms.

5. Offer bilingual and Indigenous language translation on special ballots.

6. Conduct open and all-party votes on any electoral legislative changes.

7. Avoid winter elections!

8. And, finally, clarify the authority, roles and responsibilities of Elections NL.

The recent election, like some of the weather that we endured during it, put us through the ringer. Now, our democracy necessitates that it be properly “washed and rinsed” and “shaken out” before being put on the clothesline in full view to be properly “aired out.”

God guard thee, Newfoundland and Labrador.

Lin Paddock, former Progressive Conservative candidate, Baie Verte–Green Bay

Robert’s Arm and St. John’s

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