East Van Is A “Democracy Desert”

October 9, 2014
Rider Cooey and Ciara-Maelle Thibault of DTES Votes chair the press conference

Rider Cooey and Ciara-Maelle Thibault of DTES Votes chair the press conference

There was a well-attended press conference this morning at 133 Powell to protest the voter suppression that appears to be behind the decision not to place advance voting stations in DTES, Hastings Sunrise, Strathcona, Grandview, Cedar Cottage and most of Mount Pleasant.

The meeting was organized by DTES Votes (who have been registering and giving voter assistance to low-and-no-income DTES residents) and was supported by a number of groups including OCOP and GWAC (very good to see GWAC out front on an issue; it has been a while!).

Rider Cooey, Ciara-Maelle Thibault (DTES Votes) Garth Mullins (OCOP) and David Parent (GWAC) and a gentleman from Carnegie Centre made excellent statements about the detrimental effects this will have for the enfranchisement of the poor, the disabled, and seniors.  Garth coined the perfect term — “Democracy Desert” — to describe the area not covered by the current polling stations.

Later, in the Q&A, I spoke about the lack of an independent Electoral Commission in the City.

There was a goodly number of media in attendance, along with quite a few candidates running for election in November.  The Green’s Adriane Carr and Cleta Brown were there, as was Sid Tan of COPE and independent Council candidate Grant Fraser.  They were joined by several Park and School Board candidates for the Greens and COPE.  No sign of Vision or the NPA, which was a shame as this should be non-partisan issue.

But, to be fair, when I got home, I had been sent a copy of a letter Vision sent to the Electoral Officer on Tuesday asking for more advance polling stations on the east side.  Now that the big bear has been poked, maybe we will get some movement on this!

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