Defeated Liberal Alleges Fraudulent Voting In Toronto Riding

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A three-time Liberal MP for the Toronto-area riding of Etobicoke Centre, who lost his seat in the last federal election by 26 votes, alleges that some voters voted twice and others did not provide proper ID at polling stations.

"A dark cloud has been cast over the fairness of the election result," alleges Borys Wrzesnewskyj, who will be in court April 23 to ask a judge to declare the May 2011 election invalid.

Conservative Ted Opitz won the election.

In documents filed in court, Wrzesnewskyj's lawyers claim 181 ballots are in dispute and should be thrown out. Aside from some voters voting twice, the former MP's legal team says some voters did not properly prove their identity or were not vouched for properly when they showed up at the polling station with no identification.

Under a court order, Wrzesnewskyj's lawyers were able to examine the ballots at 10 polling divisions, as well as poll books and electors' lists at Elections Canada's office in Ottawa.

The test to declare the election invalid, and trigger a byelection (after any appeals are exhausted), would be a finding that more than 26 ballots, the losing margin, should not have been counted.

Particularly outstanding is what went on in Polling Division 31, located in a church in Etobicoke. Eighty-six people voted by registration certificate on May 2, meaning they showed up without a voter identification card. Wrzesnewsky's lawyers claim that 68 of those voters actually lived in another polling division and should never have been allowed to vote at polling station 31.

Two of those voters gave addresses outside the riding and their ballots should be discarded, the lawyers claim. And 32 voters were already on the electors' list in that polling division or others nearby, suggesting it's possible they voted twice.

In another polling division in the riding, five voters who voted by registration certificate are listed as being crossed off the electors' list in another polling division, indicating they most likely did vote twice.

In one polling division, both the deputy returning officer and the polling clerk vouched for more than one voter who showed up without ID, something that, as Elections Canada employees, they should have known was illegal.

In an affidavit, the returning officer for Etobicoke Centre, Allan Sperling, says he could have benefited from "refresher training" about the rules. He says the last Elections Canada course he took was in 2007.

One deputy returning officer, offered as a witness by Opitz, said that voter ID by vouching wasn't covered in training. A central polling supervisor, also offered as a witness by Opitz, said he received no training related to voter ID.

The way voting was managed at Polling Division 31 is described by Wrzesnewskyj's lawyers as "disturbing and haphazard." Some irregularities, they state, "were not mere slips or inconsequential oversights. Even the returning officer admitted a slip becomes something more than a slip when something happens over and over again."

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