Sunday, March 11, 2012

Robocalls and stuffed ballot boxes

TC is considerably annoyed with the characterization of this scandal under the nomenclature "Robocall".  It places the focus on the means of communcation - pre-recorded voice messages delivered by phone - and not on the substance of the message.  This creates real confusion about what the real issue is here.  It is NOT about the technique of robocalling.

These messages were intended to confuse voters on voting day in order to discourage them from voting. If a party, say the Conservatives, can cause its opponents not to vote, it boosts its election chances in the same way as if it had stuffed ballot boxes with phony votes.  The net effect is the same.

But now we see stories about pre-recorded messages that Liberals used to criticize their Conservative opponents in Guelph, a legitimate use of the technology. I repeat, this is not about the technology, it is about its use for very dirty electoral tricks that clearly amount to electoral fraud.  It is about interfering with Canadians right to vote, electoral fraud, dirty electoral tricks, call it what you will, but it is not about "robocalls". 

The opposition, media and blogging critics have fallen into the trap of focusing on the technology.  That is not the point.

Lawrence Martin in iPolitics in effect asks the right Watergate-type question about all this: What did Harper know and when did he know it?