B.C. election: NDP accuses Liberal candidate of requesting vote-by-mail packages for voters
VANCOUVER -- The BC NDP are accusing a Liberal candidate of having possibly violated a major election law.
The complaint being investigated by Elections BC is against Garry Thind who is the Liberal candidate in Surrey-Fleetwood.
A letter signed by lawyer Rachel Roy and sent to Elections BC on behalf of the NDP accuses members of Thind’s campaign of being behind, “a coordinated strategy to request mail-in voting packages online and gather votes.”
The letter includes what allegedly are screenshots showing a member of Thind’s campaign asking others to collect personal information from voters.
That information includes name, date of birth, address and numbers from government issued IDs.
The screenshots reportedly show a WhatsApp group with the title "Garry Thind-Fleetwood."
In the group, a member named Baldeep Jhand allegedly says, “as a team our main task is to register as many voters as we can by ordering ballots in mail.”
According to Elections BC, it is an offence to request a vote-by-mail package on a voter's behalf.
A person liable can be punished by fines, jail time and a lengthy ban on running for office or voting in BC.
In a statement, Elections BC confirmed it takes complaints seriously and has contacted Thind’s campaign and the BC Liberal party.
"We have no evidence to suggest that requests for vote-by-mail packages were actually made on a voter’s behalf," the statement added.
Thind said in a statement Wednesday that he and his campaign team have been co-operating with Elections BC’s questions “regarding a supporter who improperly asked volunteers to submit vote-by-mail requests on behalf of voters.”
Thind said the supporter did not have a formal role in his campaign and will not be involved anymore.
“My campaign team and I take this matter very seriously and are working with all our volunteers and supporters to ensure they clearly understand that all voters must submit their own ballot requests personally.”
Thind said he and his team will continue to work with Elections BC on the investigation but will not be commenting further until it's finished.
The BC Liberal Party denied the allegations and explained a campaign volunteer made an error when providing instructions.
"The intention was to assist voters in obtaining their ballots to vote by mail," the party statement said.
Though the story initially broke on Tuesday night, Liberal Party Leader Andrew Wilkinson said he only heard about it on Wednesday morning.
“I just heard about this half an hour ago,” he said at a campaign stop in Port Moody.
“I don’t want to speculate as to what happened. But obviously it’s been reported to Elections BC. They will make their determinations and we will of course respect them.”
The party also sent reminders to all of its candidates they are not allowed to request vote-by-mail packages on behalf of voters.
“The allegations as I understand will be thoroughly investigated by Elections BC and that’s as it should be,” NDP leader John Horgan said.
“I’m confident going forward people can be confident in the system we have in British Columbia.”
Ravi Kahlon, NDP candidate for Delta North, said the allegations are serious but he has faith in Elections BC to fully investigate the matter.
“His (Andrew Wilkinson’s) candidate is the administrator of the group. It’s created for the sole purpose of collecting information – personal information of people and information no candidate would ever need,” he said.
“Social insurance number, health care number, driver’s licence number. So yes, we've got serious concerns.”
With files from CTV News Vancouver's Sheila Scott and Bhinder Sajan