I am dismayed by city hall’s behaviour during the byelection.
Using its weekly White Rock City News ads in Peace Arch News, the city started early on Oct. 4 and Oct. 11 to warn both those voting in advance and those voting Nov. 3 to “Please bring 1 piece of picture identification with you.”
On Oct. 18, under the heading “Advance Voting Dates and Location,” the wording was actually strengthened: “If you are already on the voters list only one piece of picture identification is required.”
But I learned that while election staff “preferred” photo ID – giving as reasons the need to perform due diligence and to speed the process for the poll clerks – it was not mandatory.
The ads on Oct. 25 and Nov. 3 simply omitted all mention of ID for voters, and the only reference to ID was for those wishing to register.
Citizens who knew they were already on the voters list and thought they needed to bring photo ID did not learn otherwise unless they called city hall.
I believe city hall staff were correct that the number of people without photo ID was small. But that hardly matters. As June Hicklin, an advisory officer to local governments for the provincial government, told me, the point is “quite major.”
It is bad for democracy when civil servants find it acceptable to mislead the public. And the failure to correct the earlier misinformation has the unfortunate appearance of a minor coverup.
City hall staff report to the mayor and council. I hope they will not censure anyone – but I trust that they will make it clear to all staff that this city’s policy is to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth.
Elaine Harding, White Rock