Wednesday, May 29, 2013

This Just In...The Lowest Form Of Political Thuggery Does Not Always...


There was much political thuggery in the provincial election just past and, as Daniel Veniez made clear in the GStraight yesterday, it pretty much won the day on May 14th:

...(The BC Liberals) intentionally defined their political opponents through profound mischaracterizations. But more to the point, they lie as a matter of deliberate political strategy.

More accurately, they were works of fiction. These meticulously designed and tested cartoons plant negative imagery in the consciousness of voters. Like their Ottawa cousins did with such devastating effect against St├ęphane Dion and Michael Ignatieff, the B.C. Liberals organized and executed a hit job on B.C. NDP leader Adrian Dix.

One B.C. Liberal operater, a twenty-something paid staffer that used to work for Michael Ignatieff—and destined to be a "lifer" in that world—said to me on Twitter that Christy Clark "won because she ran a better campaign".

If a "better campaign" is defined by trying with all your might to scare the living hell out of citizens, highly dubious claims of a "debt free B.C.", and the immediate arrival of Armageddon should Dix become premier, then yes, it was a "better campaign". And that's the crux of the problem. Never mind that is was a "campaign" largely based on outright lies and attacks on the character, honesty, motivations, and integrity of a man wanting to serve the public through elected office. For the most part, the attacks were works of fiction designed to demonize the target and inject fear into the minds of target voters...

All of which is lousy.

But none of the litany listed by Mr. Veniez, above, is the lowest form of political thuggery.

Instead, in my opinion at least, the lowest of the low is 'voter suppression'.


Because it is nothing more than a concerted attempt by political operatives to subvert the democratic process by disenfranchising legitimate voters that likely won't vote for their candidate(s).

As practiced in the the modern post-Atwater/Ailes/Rove apocalyptic world it is actually, at its core, a very simple two step process.

Step one: Identify people who very likely won't vote for you.

Step two: Do your best to keep the identified voters from actually voting.

Of course, if you have been paying attention you have recognized that this two step process was used to apparent significant effect in the last robocall-laced federal election.

But was that kind of thing attempted provincially this spring?

Read on....


The final count is now in from the riding of Vancouver Point Grey.

And David Eby won over Christy Clark, going away.

In fact, his numbers actually improved after the absentee/special ballots were counted earlier this week.

Now, here's the thing.....

Those absentee/special ballots really could have counted if the race on election day had been just a wee bit closer, as was fully expected earlier in the campaign.


Because they included the votes cast by some of the kids who live on the University campus located in the riding of Vancouver Point Grey.

And when some of those kids, kids who had telegraphed that they were going to vote for Mr. Eby, headed down to the riding's electoral district office to vote early (after announcing they were going to do so, en masse, by public transit, on their facebook page) they were challenged on their residency by BC Liberal Party-affiliated folks who were waiting for them when they arrived.


Recall those two steps mentioned above, and then read what Zoe McKnight, who had the story at the time in the VSun, reported on April 23rd (i.e. three weeks before election day):

...Liberal party scrutineers are challenging the proof of residency submitted by some University of B.C. students attempting to vote in Premier Christy Clark’s riding.

A get-out-the-vote campaign sponsored by the New Democratic Party of B.C. brought about a dozen students by bus to the Elections B.C. district office on West Broadway last Wednesday in the riding of Vancouver-Point Grey to vote to cast advance ballots.

But when fourth-year geography and political science student Quinn Runkle tried to use a printout of her university account proving she lives in Acadia House on UBC campus, her residency credentials were challenged by Liberal party members acting as “candidate representatives.”...

{snippety doo-dah}

...Liberal party communications officer Sam Oliphant said the party’s scrutineers had concerns about whether a screen shot is unreliable proof of residency.

“We asked for clarification about what would constitute an acceptable proof of residency and whether a screen shot of a residency page or simply showing a smartphone image would be something (Elections B.C.) would accept,” he wrote in an email, adding university transcripts or proof of registration were more commonly used....

And here is what I had to say at the time:

...(Let's) go and have a look at the Elections BC webpage about how University kids can prove their residency in a riding where they are living while going to school:

School/college/university-issued document 
Examples: admissions letter, report card, transcript, 
residence acceptance/confirmation, tuition/fees statement, student card


Didn't the student concerned, above, indicate that she had "a printout of her university account proving she lives in Acadia House on UBC campus"?



There is absolutely no evidence whatsoever that there has been any sort of concerted fraud when kids vote early like this.

Thus, the only reasonable explanation for BC Liberal party operatives (eg. the 'candidate's representatives') to be staking out that office, on that very day, at that very time (ie. the office was open every single working day from the time the writ was dropped until the votes were cast), was so that they could harass those kids and intimidate them (and intimidate other kids who would hear about the intimidation and thus would be reluctant to vote) before they headed off to their families for the summer after final exams were done at the end of April (i.e. two weeks before election day).


Do you see why discouraging those kids from voting really mattered to those who were engaging in the lowest form of political thuggery now?

Especially if things had been just a little bit closer on election day (recall, for example, that Mr. Eby lost the previous by-election to Ms. Clark by a few hundred votes after the last polls, that presumably included the advances, were counted in 2011).


The good news in all of this?

Well, clearly, because of the way Mr. Eby's campaign team worked, on the ground doing real retail politics that actually matter, many of these kids did, indeed, vote. Thus, this particular form of political thuggery did not work this time.

Which, I think, demonstrates how it can be stopped, dead, in its tracks next time.


Speaking of Federal Robo/Con/Calls...Saskboy has a very good summary up of what's going on in the here and now....Here. 
And don't forget, the RoboConCall strate(r)gy was actually breech-birthed in 2008....



kootcoot said...

Didn't the Reformatories do something similar at an advance poll, held on campus I think, at some Ontario university during the last compromised (read stolen) federal election? IIRC the infamous Michael Sona or some other robo-call affiliated name occasionally in the news was involved in the incident which which, also if IIRC, involved taking possession of the ballot box by force to stop the voting.

RossK said...



But that were a few issues about that 'special' polling station on the Guelph Univ. campus.

This was very different as it actually occurred at the E-BC District office where the E-BC staff themselves are ensconced and charged with making sure potential voters in the riding are legitimate.

Thus, you could ask yourself if, perhaps, the 'candidate's representatives' were also sending a message to E-BC staff as well.

I wrote a lot about the situation at Guelph at the time just before the 2011 Fed Election...Here is probably the best overview.

But if you want more just go to my place and put 'Sona Guelph' in the search box in the top left corner of the page.



Saskboy said...

Thanks for the link.

Also, those results show that the BC Greens prevented Clark from winning her seat. Look how they split the vote! ;)

RossK said...


You're welcome.

Regarding the effect of the Green vote...That is not entirely clear here in BC where there appears to be some riding specific effects...Furthermore, please realize that what we have here is not the FedLib party by any means.

Upshot...Many have argued the opposite (i.e. that in a number of ridings the Greens swung things away from the NDP).


Kim said...

Is that your conclusion Ross K? I tend to think the Green vote was less detrimental than the 48 per cent of eligible voters who stayed home.

It will be interesting to see how many ridings Christy burns through trying to get an invite to the Peoples House, unless the NDP choose to step aside completely on that.

I have a meeting with my MLA next week. It should be interesting.

RossK said...

Honestly, I'm not sure one way or the other overall...However, in Pt. Grey I don't think that the Green vote hurt Ms. Clark given the previous history of the Greens getting lots of votes (2005 most specifically) and not hurting the Gord.

(and I'm not pointing fingers at Saskboy - he really knows both the Fed and Sask scenes and likely doesn't understand how many pretty far-rightish non-liberals have been voting Red provincially round here since, essentially, the early 90's).


Kim said...

I have a problem with the Dix campaign. Brian Topp/Kool/Guy. What was that all about?

Saskboy said...

Oh, I know the BC Libs are a Harpercon party, I was just making a joke about how the NDP are crying into their beer about the Greens preventing their right to govern, and here's a riding where a BC Lib could have won with the Green votes added on (but which wouldn't likely happen, thus the ha ha part ;-)).

RossK said...

Ahhhhh...Got you now Saskboy.



Sean Holman wrote a good 'what's up with that?' piece over at HuffPo


(and, as an aside....yes, it does pain me to see the last of the independents (i.e. Mr. Holman) working it for the ghost of Ariana's massive cash-cow and nipple-slip emporium for, essentially, nothing)


North Van's Grumps said...

you mean these UBCC350 Storm the Riding "kids"... not favouring one Party over another... but simply to have candidates say where they stand on Pipelines, Carbon trust ... and of course the MLA for Vancouver Point Grey was to "busy" to attend any of the All Candidate meetings.

What next, run in another Riding and not show up for the Third Election?