Surrey-Fleetwood Liberal MLA candidate Garry Thind is demanding an apology from the NDP and two of its local MLA candidates after the NDP called on Elections BC to investigate “voter fraud allegations” involving his campaign.
Elections BC has found no evidence of corrupt voting in Surrey-Fleetwood after the NDP claimed last week that a campaign organizer for the Liberal party candidate Garry Thind allegedly solicited personal information from voters to request mail-in ballots over the internet. Ravi Kahlon, NDP incumbent and MLA candidate for Delta North, raised the issue during a presser Sept. 30 in Newton.
Andrew Watson, communications director for Elections BC, said Saturday it has concluded its investigation and “found no evidence that corrupt voting has occurred.”
Watson said the investigation included “interviewing all identified parties, reviewing material obtained from all parties, and analyzing vote-by-mail package request data. No evidence of improper vote-by-mail package requests was found.”
Thind told the Now-Leader on Monday that it was not his campaign’s intention to collect anyone’s information. “It was just to aware people that you go online and do this, and this is information you need.”
“I think Ravi jumped onto it very quickly, Ravi must apologize from my campaign and my volunteers because he jumped onto the conclusion very quickly and blamed on us,” Thind said. “I think that’s bad on Mr. Jagrup Brar’s part as well.”
He said he wants both to apologize, “and the NDP of course because they did a press conference and made it a central issue.
“The intent was not to get anyone’s information,” he stressed. “His intention was just to make aware people this is what you need to order a mail-in ballot. We know this, that you cannot order anyone’s mail-in ballot.”
“I lost four days off my campaign, the morale was down, it affected my family too, my kids too, my children,” Thind said.
Kahlon responded Monday that while he’s “glad” that Elections BC didn’t find anyone had voted illegally,” Elections BC focus was on making sure that no one had actually voted fraudulently and so my belief is that, because this got exposed early, and became public, at this point there’s no proof that somebody actually voted in a fraudulent way.”
Kahlon said on Sept. 30 that his party asked Elections BC to look into “very serious allegations that potentially involves mail-in ballots in the middle of a pandemic.”
The Victoria law firm Allevato Quail and Roy, on behalf of the BC NDP, on Tuesday Sept. 29 requested an “urgent investigation into possible violations of Section 257 –Corrupt Voting of the Elections Act in relation to a coordinated strategy to request mail-in voting packages online and gather votes by Surrey-Fleetwood BC Liberal candidate Garry Thind and his team.”
The law firm’s letter notes that the Corrupt Voting provision of the Act prohibits an individual from “obtaining a ballot in the name of another individual” (at Section 257(1)(e)). It is also an offence under Section 266 to provide false or misleading information when required to make a declaration under the Act. Violations of these provisions can result in monetary penalties, jail time, and disqualification from holding office or voting for seven years.”
“We are gravely concerned about this coordinated strategy,” the law firm’s letter read. “It appears to involve numerous, deliberate violations of the Act, including the corrupt voting and false declaration sections. We request an immediate investigation into these circumstances.”
Kahlon on Wednesday called on the Liberals to “explain what’s going on here.”
Thind is currently on a leave of absence as a Surrey School trustee.
Jagrup Brar, NDP incumbent and MLA candidate for Surrey-Fleetwood, said last week it’s a “very serious matter” and “all BC NDP candidates are concerned and I think the people in British Columbia are also concerned about these allegations.”
“I think I have full faith in Elections BC to fully investigate these matters and to ensure the integrity of this election,” he said. “I think it’s very important that the people of Fleetwood have complete trust in the system. No political party or candidate should ever, ever ask voters for their health card numbers or their social security number because that’s private information of the people. This information could be used to vote on other people’s behalf and that’s a serious, serious matter.”
“We don’t know if it did at this point in time, but that is for Mr. Wilkinson to explain to the people,” Brar said. “I’m getting a lot of phone calls from the people, and people of Fleetwood.”