'This is just a mistake': Ineligible British Albertan put on election voting list in error
EDMONTON -- An Alberta man has received a voting card from Elections Canada despite being a British national and not a Canadian citizen, making him therefore ineligible to vote.
Paul Gabriel of Beiseker, Alta. says he and his wife got a voter information cards in the mail in early October.
"I didn't think very much of it. I thought, 'this is just a mistake,'" said Gabriel. I've been here 19 years and I've never had one yet."
He said he was going to throw the card away but kept it after hearing a co-worker also received a card despite not holding citizenship.
Gabriel's wife is a Canadian citizen and he says he has no plans to leave.
"I live like a Canadian and I will probably stay in Canada forever but I will forever be a Brit."
Gabriel says his name likely ended up on the list because the person doing his tax returns ticked the box indicating he was a Canadian citizen and that the Canada Revenue Agency could share his name and address with Elections Canada.
"It is concerning for me because I can't imagine anywhere else ... where I would be allowed to vote on the strength of trust."
Only Canadian citizens are eligible to vote in federal elections. Registering or attempting to vote when not eligible to do so is an offence under the Canada Elections Act.
But, anyone with a voting card and other identification, including a drivers licence, could conceivably cast a ballot given proof of citizenship is not required to vote.
Elections Canada says it continually updates its National Register of Electors using more than 40 sources and says the list has an estimated accuracy rate of 93 per cent.
In May of this year, Elections Canada said it would eliminate 103,000 people from the register because they are not Canadian citizens.
"You must be a Canadian citizen in order to vote so the best thing to do to help Elections Canada improve the list and correct the mistakes is to either go to an Elections Canada office and say, 'will you please remove me from the list, I'm not a Canadian.' Or you can phone," said Francoise Enguehard of Elections Canada. "We have a 1-800 number and you will help greatly in making the list better."
Elections Canada says if you are not a Canadian citizen you should not be on the list. Those who violate the Canada Elections Act could face a fine of up to five thousand dollars, and even jail time.
With files from Amy Stoodley and David Ewasuk