Surrey Mounties investigating possible ballot fraud
The lead-up to Surrey's municipal election took a troubling turn Monday when the RCMP confirmed it has launched a criminal investigation into possible ballot fraud.
"Of those (mail-in ballot) applications that we reviewed, some of them raised the suspicions… We felt there was unlawful activity going on," said Anthony Capuccinello, the city's Chief Elections Officer.
Those suspicions prompted Capuccinello to call the RCMP.
"Given that this matter is time-sensitive, this review and investigation have been prioritized by our Investigate Services sections," Mounties said in a statement Monday.
In an Oct. 3 update, investigators said they were forwarded a total of 72 mail-in ballots from Capuccinello's office.
The RCMP added that it has only received "third-party allegation of any wrongdoing in the election process," and are asking any potential victims to contact police directly.
"No individuals have come forward to the Surrey RCMP to say that they have been victimized in any matters related to the voting process," the release read.
A community group called Wake Up Surrey made allegations of mail-in voter fraud including bribery targeting specific members of the community.
According to organizer Sukhi Sandhu, that might include "new immigrants and people who may be tradesmen or employees of certain businesspeople who are obligated to them."
Meanwhile, Capuccinello says, of the 160 applications for mail-in ballots received, none have been sent out. He would not specify how many of the applications were suspicious.
"There is the perception that somehow our process has been compromised and I can say without a doubt it has not been compromised," he said.
On Monday, the city also issued a warning to voters about the suspicious activity.
"The Chief Election Officer has received complaints that anonymous callers claiming to be Election Officials are phoning residents about Voter Cards and asking for personal information," the city said in a tweet.
"BEWARE - these are FRAUDULENT CALLS. DO NOT give out personal information. If you receive phone calls of this nature call the RCMP Non-Emergency number at 604-599-0502."
In the past, Surrey voters might have had mail-in ballots mailed to them, but because of the investigation, that won't be the case for this election. Those interested will have to pick their mail-in ballot up in person and will only be able to do so if their application is approved and they provide proper ID.
And with the election just weeks away, candidates are hoping the alarming allegations won't keep voters from heading to the polls.
Anyone who believes they might have been a victim of voter fraud or who has information about the investigation is asked to contact Mounties through a dedicated phone line at 604-599-7848.
With files from CTV Vancouver's Michele Brunoro
1/2 ALERT: The Chief Election Officer has received complaints that anonymous callers claiming to be Election Officials are phoning residents about Voter Cards and asking for personal information.— City of Surrey (@CityofSurrey) October 2, 2018
2/2 BEWARE - these are FRAUDULENT CALLS. DO NOT give out personal information. If you receive phone calls of this nature call the RCMP Non-Emergency number at 604-599-0502.— City of Surrey (@CityofSurrey) October 2, 2018