What is more suspicious than a political candidate receiving a suitcase full of cash? How about a suitcase full of ballots?
Ballot box integrity is a basic tenant of democracy. Everyone gets to vote, everyone’s vote is counted, and nobody knows who voted for who. Each of those points are in jeopardy in the Conservative Party leadership race. Each misstep, either real or perceived, will cast doubt on the legitimacy of Andrew Scheer’s replacement.
Staff and volunteers at candidate Peter MacKay’s office are taking to Twitter to show off hundreds of ballots that they have apparently hand collected.
Michael Diamond, one of the many people on Peter MacKay’s payroll, posted a photo on Friday of a literal suitcase stuffed with ballots. It was laying open on what appears to be a campaign office table.
The issue here is not some grand conspiracy — that maybe Peter MacKay had some Chinese printing factory mail him a suitcase of official looking ballots — no, it is worse than that. Each of these ballots represents a person that a campaign staffer for Peter MacKay is certain is voting for Peter MacKay.
What if someone hands a MacKay staffer an envelope and says, “I voted for Erin O’Toole.” What then? Does Team MacKay tell them to sort out how to get their vote to Ottawa themselves?
There is no way to be sure beyond a doubt that everyone’s vote was treated fairly and given equal access to the ballot box. That is not a fault of Peter MacKay, but a fault of the election committee.
It is, however, the fault of their campaign for acting like children posing next to their stash of Halloween candy (I always threw out Tootsie Rolls, I hated those). The campaigns must be aware of how dubious it appears. A suitcase full of ballots? It sounds like something out of a Tom Clancy novel.
Maybe they are following Sun Tzu’s most famous advice: appear strong when you are weak.
Half of democracy is deciding which candidates even get to appear on the ballot of a general election in the first place. The sanctity of the ballot box for the leadership of the Conservative Party is as crucial to our process as any local ballot box in a general election.
The Conservative Party has yet again fully botched this, and whoever replaces Andrew Scheer may very well face a challenge to their legitimacy.