Surrey Mounties say 67 of 73 applications to vote by mail that they’ve examined in their investigation into election fraud in Surrey are fraudulent. To date, investigators have not found evidence linking any political candidate or slate to this.
Police say those applications were either not completed or or signed by the voter named on the application.
“Two had been sent to addresses that were not associated to the named applicant,” Corporal Elenore Sturko said Friday. “The other 65 applications listed the applicant’s correct address for delivery of the voting ballot. It should be noted that no ballots were sent out to any individuals or residences based on the fraudulent applications.”
With eight days to go to the Saturday Oct. 20 civic election, Sturko said investigators have “identified and interviewed two persons of interest in this investigation, however further investigation will be required to determine if criminal charges or charges under the Local Government Act are warranted.”
Surrey RCMP Corporal Elenore Sturko. (Photo: Tom Zytaruk)
Sturko also said Friday that the investigation has “not revealed any indication that people were induced or intimidated in any manner to provide their personal information or to vote for a specific candidate.”
Surrey’s Chief Election Officer Anthony Capuccinello Iraci has assured voters that the integrity of the elections process is intact as allegations of widespread election fraud involving the South Asian community grip Surrey’s 2018 campaign.
“It is important for the public to recognize that measures were taken by the chief election officer to amend the application process to preserve the integrity of the election process,” Sturko noted.
With less than three weeks to the Oct. 20 election, local anti-crime community group Wake Up Surrey made an official complaint to the Surrey RCMP on Sept. 28.
The complaint centres on alleged “fraudulent use of absentee ballots” and “buying votes.” Wake Up Surrey claimed to have “learned of vote buying offers in the South Asian community which is another attempt to suppress registered voters and undermine our democratic process.”
“It’s a sad day for our city,” Sukhi Sandhu, a leader of Wake Up Surrey, said in reaction to the latest from the RCMP. “Due to the unethical behaviour of a small group, our entire community is being tarnished. Over 90 per cent of these forms were declared fraudulent and as many are aware, during mass sign-ups in nomination meetings or nomination races or leadership campaigns the vast majority of these sign-ups are dropped off the last day or the second-to-last day. This RCMP update has validated Wake Up Surrey’s concerns.”
“We don’t anticipate any more forms coming forward because the entire plan has imploded,” he suspects. “The mail voter fraud plan has blown up.”
“Unfortunately when this type of fraud occurs, especially in our South Asian community, that it’s targeted toward the most vulnerable — the tradesmen, the labourers, the new immigrants. We need to understand as Canadians it is our civic duty to report such illegal activity, as it it serious and criminal.”
Doug McCallum, mayoral candidate with the Safe Surrey Coalition, wants to see criminal charges laid. “I would like to thank Wake Up Surrey for bringing this to the attention of the authorities,” he said. “The election fraud appears to have been stopped in its tracks.”
Bruce Hayne, mayoral candidate of Integrity Now, also weighed in on the RCMP’s latest update.
“The only way to describe my reaction to today’s news is sad — sad for the people of Surrey who deserve so much better, and sad for our democracy in Canada. I thank the Surrey RCMP for their incredibly fast work to date, and hope that they are able to bring this investigation to a conclusion in an expedient manner.”
Sturko said on Oct. 3 that the RCMP had received “only third-party allegations of any wrongdoing in the election process. No individuals have come forward to the Surrey RCMP to say that they have been victimized in any matters related to the voting process.”
Since then, 69 out of 73 people whose personal information was used to complete the mail ballot applications have been interviewed by police.
Police had received 73 mail ballot registrations from Surrey’s chief elections officer, she said, “as a result of some noted irregularities in the applications” and investigators were reviewing each “to ensure the legitimacy of each application and whether or not the irregularities were as a result of an innocent error on the part of the applicant.”
A dedicated tip line has been set up for this investigation, at 604-599-7848.
“To date, a total of six calls have been received on the tip line with two of those calls requiring follow-up by investigators which has been completed,” Sturko said. “While the police do not routinely release details of on-going investigations, this update is being provided to reassure the public and allow for transparency in the election process,” Sturko said Friday.
“It is extremely important that we receive first-hand complaints from any individuals who may have been victimized so we can properly investigate these incidents,” Sturko said on Oct. 3. “We understand the time-sensitivity of this situation and have dedicated a significant number of resources and a new tip line to this investigation so the citizens of Surrey can be confident in the election process.”