March 06, 2018

Doug Ford's request to extend the leadership election is disingenuous

Eitan GilboordGuest Post

Doug Ford has called on the Ontario Progressive Conservative Party to extend voting in its leadership election for an additional week.

But Ford doesn’t just want to extend voting:

He has called for the implementation of a physical voting location in each Ontario riding.

This is not only unrealistic, but would be impossible to implement. The leadership election organizing committee (LEOC) should not waste a moment entertaining Ford's request. 

Full disclosure: I helped coordinate the last Ontario PC leadership election, and I remember all too well the months of preparation it took.

In order to have ballot boxes in each riding, the first step would be to find a local person in the riding to facilitate the vote. That means having one neutral “returning officer” (or "RO") who is agreed upon by each of the leadership campaigns and LEOC.

At this point in the leadership race, most capable party activists have aligned themselves with a campaign, and considering the many allegations of “rot” in the PC party over candidate nominations, trusting a non-neutral RO to facilitate a leadership election could be problematic.

But for a moment, let’s pretend that LEOC could find and coordinate having a neutral and competent RO in each riding.

Then that RO would have to book a voting location. The voting location would need to be accessible to all members, and in large rural ridings, often you would need more than one voting location.

Each of these voting locations would need to be open on at least two different days, allowing people an option of when to go and vote in person.

Once the location is confirmed, the party would have to ship out a secure voting box to the RO as part of a complete election kit. You can’t use any old box; it has to be a secure box that can’t be tampered with. Elections Canada sells these boxes, but they can take weeks to deliver.

But let's assume that the party has leftover boxes from the last leadership election, or maybe Staples has a product that will suffice.

The next step would require that at the end of each voting day, the RO will have to seal the voting box with special tape, then put the box in a transparent garbage bag and seal that with a certified Ontario PC tape. Sealing is required to eliminate any potential for ballot box stuffing. This ballot box sealing process would have to be watched by campaign scrutineers.

Then LEOC would have to work with the party and a security team to pick up all of the boxes from a secure location and transport them to Toronto to have the ballots counted. In order for this to be completed in a timely manner, the party would have to charter a plane to pick up the boxes in northern Ontario.

Once all of the boxes made it to Toronto, the party would need a team of about 15-30 neutral people to stay up all night and count ballots. These people would be required to give up any communication devices so the results would not be leaked.

The party would have to get food and accommodations for the ballot counting volunteers and hire an independent auditor to monitor the counting.

So, I suppose that if all of that could be accomplished in a week, then sure Doug, let’s do it! But that process can not be completed in a week, and I suspect that the Ford campaign knows this. It could be that Ford’s announcement was more about setting himself up for a loss to Christine Elliot, rather than actually making sure everyone can vote.

Considering the resources required, it was obvious that in such a short period of time, the only plausible way to conduct a “one-member one-vote” leadership election would be online.

If I were advising LEOC, I would have suggested looking into adding in-person voting in four or five locations: Toronto, Ottawa, London, Sudbury, and Thunder Bay.

But even that could be problematic.

I suspect the Doug Ford campaign knows how unrealistic this is, but if it’s true that Ontario PC Party members have yet to receive a ballot, then yes, something needs to be done.

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commented 2018-03-06 16:21:46 -0500
Why is Doug the only candidate requesting this. Wouldn’t it also increase their chances as well or is Doug worried that Elliott is going to win and is in desperate mode to try to get as many votes as possible.
commented 2018-03-06 16:16:42 -0500
Bob/Vinny who are you talking to?

My take away is the paper ballot is not feasible for all the reason Eitan outlined, extending on-line voting window does seem possible.
commented 2018-03-06 15:56:55 -0500
Maybe you need to read Eitan’s comment again as I assume you respect him:

“This is not only unrealistic, but would be impossible to implement. The leadership election organizing committee (LEOC) should not waste a moment entertaining Ford’s request.”.

The PC party will have to wait until the next election to improve the voting situation.
commented 2018-03-06 15:42:09 -0500
The time must be extended as there are many people who have not received their voter ID number allowing them to continue with the process.

I did not have any issues and cast my ballot on the day it opened.

For anyone who doesn’t have the equipment to upload their ID etc….please visit your local library and seek assistance from the librarian. If you do are not already a patron, sign up to be one…it doesn’t take very long and you will be given access to all kinds of resources.
commented 2018-03-06 15:39:25 -0500
Marilyn Neilson,

So let me get this straight, because Eitan provides his professional view as a past PC election organizer and that view goes against Doug Ford’s wishes, that means Eitan is a traitor? It’s not his job to get Doug Ford elected, because YOU want him to be leader. It IS his job to provide his view on extending voting and if that’s realistic or not no matter the candidate.

Essentially you are saying that The Rebel should be campaigning for Ford to win and no one else and this valid article makes Eitan some kind of traitor that Ezra should fire. I actually respect Eitan for writing this unbiased view, because I think The Rebel probably does want Ford to win.
commented 2018-03-06 15:23:18 -0500
Got verified 2 weeks ago and still haven’t received my ballot. Epic fail.
commented 2018-03-06 15:21:44 -0500
Voting is limited to those who are computer literate, can afford a computer and internet service costs, understand how to work with on-line forms, can afford a scanner to scan and upload ID, and have the time and patience to do all this. I wonder what the majority demographic will be?
May I predict rich, middle aged people and early retirees with time on their hands ? Doubt that we will see much participation from the poor, elderly, or youth. It does look a bit suspicious .
commented 2018-03-06 15:15:57 -0500
I don’t understand don’t you folks vote that way already. one member 1 vote go to polling stations and vote then phone it into the main station. I really thought that’s what people did already.
commented 2018-03-06 15:03:42 -0500
I think he is requesting this due to the fact that many haven’t received their voter ID in the mail and also due to the fact that many are having issues with the online system……too many problems all around
commented 2018-03-06 15:02:37 -0500
I attended two rallies on the weekend and a large percentage of the attendees had not received their registration paper necessary to complete the voting process.
I did not have any difficulty voting and I believe enough safeguards are in place to ensure correct tabulation.But if people can’t get registered and can’t vote ,a foolproof email vote system.
Extend the deadline in the interests of all who want to participate.
commented 2018-03-06 14:40:10 -0500
As a member of the conspiratorium clerisy, I agree with Doug. After what happened with Patric Brown, I wouldn’t trust anyone! Hard copies only.
commented 2018-03-06 14:20:48 -0500
Well, Eitan Gilboord, knowing that you are a staff member of “The Rebel”, I am amazed and dismayed that you would stand in opposition with Doug Ford’s commonsensical request to extend the leadership voting and to include “paper” voting.
You may know everything there is to know as coordinator of the previous PC leadership election, and good on you. BUT, this situation now is completely different with the truncated timeframe.
I get a sniff that you may be a bit (or more) of a quisling in “The Rebel” organization. I hope not, but if not, how about keeping your mouth shut.
commented 2018-03-06 14:05:32 -0500
As a member of the conspiratorium clerisy, I agree with Doug. After what happened with Patric Brown, I wouldn’t trust anyone! Hard copies only.
commented 2018-03-06 13:52:04 -0500
Yep – Ford is making excuses already and he is not even leader yet.
commented 2018-03-06 13:47:21 -0500
It sounds like it would guarantee a fair election to me… I totally support the idea
commented 2018-03-06 13:35:50 -0500
Ford is scared he will not get elected. He’s been bitching since he entered the race. Clearly shows he is not the choice
commented 2018-03-06 12:39:33 -0500
After that speech, the Party has no choice but to extend the voting for a week. Why didn’t Christine or Caraline complain about this?

I heard that the Federal Conservative Party lost or missed 7,000 votes; quite a lot when you consider how close it was. I don’t want to sound like Hilary and her supporters, but something wasn’t right in the Federal Con. Election, almost as if the Party wanted Scheer,a person that they could easily control.
commented 2018-03-06 12:22:26 -0500
Another great article. Keep writing.

Now I know so much about boxes.