I have sent the following letter to all board members of School District #53, the senior staff of School District #53, and am providing it to this media outlet as an open letter to the members of the board.
Dear Ms. Young, Ms. Minnabarriet, and Members of the Board,
The dispute with SD 53 is not about winning or losing. It’s bigger than that. First and foremost, it’s about the people in the Osoyoos Electoral district being deprived of their voting rights. It’s about the school district and board choosing which rules to follow. It’s about Ms. Tarr, a trustee for our community, the board, and district responding like this error is insignificant. It’s about this district and board not being willing to step up and do the right thing. If we let this go, what’s next. How does this district and board decide which rules are important? How do you decide when it’s okay to violate people’s rights?
People’s right to vote is a corner stone of a democracy. People in Canada, and all over the world, fought and died for the right to vote. People all over the world still continue to do so. I never realized how much I believed in this until I discovered that the citizens of our community were denied this right and that the school district thought this to be nothing more than an “error or oversight” that didn’t need to be rectified. This is outraging me on a level, I didn’t realize existed. Perhaps you didn’t realize what this “error or oversight” did. It deprived the voting public of one third of their voting opportunities. When the legislation was drafted, I don’t believe that depriving voters of their right to vote was thought to be an “error or oversight”. This isn’t a spelling mistake. This is a huge issue. How would you feel if you didn’t get to vote because someone decided to omit one day of voting in a municipal, provincial, or federal election? If this happened, would this still be just a minor issue. Would you still consider it an “error or oversight” that didn’t need to be corrected? How do you decide when is it no longer just an “error or oversight”? Why is it that a member of the community is the one standing up for the voting rights of our community? Where are our trustees? Why are they not ensuring the rights of the community they are supposed to be representing? If you can’t do it as a board, and If you truly believe in our democracy, why can’t you stand up as a private citizen and challenge it?
I don’t know if this would have had a material affect on the results of the election. You can’t know that either. The evidence suggests that it did. If advanced voting had no impact, then let’s throw out the first advanced poll. If we did that, the outcome would have been much different. If the first advanced poll had an impact, then it is a fair assumption to make that the second one would as well.
I know the decision to have the election declared invalid is not a decision that the board makes. The legislation is quite clear. I know that it would have to be made by chief election officer, Ms. Minnabarriet. I am reasonably certain that if the board and district requested Ms. Minnabarriet to do so, she would.
I’m not asking for anything extraordinary. I’m asking that you take the necessary steps to make this right. Declare the election invalid, and let’s start again. Let’s do it right so that the elected official can sit at the table knowing that it was done right, and the community, even if they aren’t all happy with the result, are satisfied that the election was fair. It’s not going to tell us what would have happened this time, but at least it will have been done right and the people will not have been denied their voting rights.