Campaign season is now under way in both my home and adopted countries. A couple of quick legal notes on what to expect, whether during the U.S.’s prolonged campaign, or during the “extended” 11-weeks of the campaign to control Canada.
I will not dedicate time to partisanship. Certain, there are enough individuals well-engaged — and, in many cases, well-paid, to issue comment. Rather, as a former co-lead regional election protection counsel over the past couple of U.S. Presidential elections, I will be watching with great interest the efforts of the parties to ensure fair elections — elections free of intimidation, voter deterrence, or other form of chicanery. Indeed, the hallmark for deterring such bad-faith conduct — long on my mind since the fiasco of Election 2000 — is the diligence and dedication of the political parties, the citizens and a strong group of lawyers to prevent vote suppression and the accuracy of voting hardware and software. Over the past fourteen years, I have vigilantly advocated for better controls on the latter, and done my part in minimizing the former.
In the context of this blog, I speak only in generalities. Notwithstanding, there is a defined legal strategy for democratic success — one designed to ensure that the highest vote-getter, whether in a parliamentary riding, congressional district, etc., captures the race. It has proven successful in various, past elections — although hardly ‘across the board.’ Can and will those same lessons be applied in Canada’s October election, or in November 2016? What is more, is there present sufficient political courage to challenge official actions (such as Bill C-23 in Canada’s Parliament) or unofficial ones to (1) inform and energize the public; and (2) deter those who seek to deter democratic processes?
It will be interesting to see, in both countries, whether there will be significant attention provided by the various candidates to the importance of voter/election protection. In the past, I believe the teams we constructed in Florida — literally constituted from a few thousand attorneys with various discrete functions — made a real difference in delivering the State to our candidate. We adopted a coordinated strategy, topped off by the training of our teams and the willingness to engage in court action. Our design was not, and could not be limited to, protecting our Party’s voters. Rather, it was to protecting everyone’s vote, and to ensuring that it was properly counted.