Canada is in uproar over a Robocalling scandal which suggests that the last election could have been decided by automated phone calls. Michelle Zilio reports in the Montreal Gazette:
Canada’s former chief electoral officer says recent allegations of systematic voter-suppression phone calls are unprecedented in the country’s electoral history.
“We have never seen anything like this alleged case in terms of this potential organization and impact in terms of numbers,” said Jean-Pierre Kingsley, Canada’s chief electoral officer from 1990 to 2007.
“People vote twice, people destroy the signs, but this automated means and this use of call centres is the first time the allegations go as far as they are going. They’re serious.”
Last week’s Ottawa Citizen-Postmedia News investigation revealed evidence of fraudulent pre-recorded phone calls made during the May federal election in Guelph through services provided by the Edmonton-based voice-broadcast company RackNine Inc. Further developments in the story suggest that harassing live phone calls were made by callers posing as Liberal candidates in swing ridings. The National Post and the Toronto Star also report that more live phone calls had been made in the Thunder Bay area, with callers phoning on behalf of the Conservative Party to alert voters of purported polling location changes.
Kingsley said the allegations may fall under one section of the Canadian Elections Act — section 482(b), which finds anyone who “induces a person to vote or refrain from voting or to vote or refrain from voting for a particular candidate at an election” guilty of intimidation of the electoral process.
Whether the calls were pre-recorded or live is irrelevant, said Kingsley.
“If someone is representing themselves to be Elections Canada, giving false information, changing the polls, and the purpose is to confuse electors to the extent that you’re attempting to discourage them from voting, then that is against the statute, in my view,” said Kingsley. “This is not small potatoes because what you are trying to do is interfere with the right of Canadians to vote and that is a constitutional right in Canada.”…
[continues in the Montreal Gazette]
Not that this is unique to Canada; as disinformation collaborator Albert Nerenberg points out (thanks for the tip on the story above Albert), Mitt Romney is accusing Rick Santorum of employing a “dirty trick” by sponsoring a computerized phone call urging Michigan Democrats to vote against Romney in Tuesday’s Republican primary.
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