“I was flipping mad.” This was the response eighty-two year old Joyce Fraser had after opening her HST ballot last week. Fraser has been an advocate of human rights for most of her life. She founded Princeton and District Community Services and was Director of the organization for 33 years. She is a well respected Princeton resident who is known for her tenacity and when she read the HST ballot wording could not believe her eyes. “It’s ridiculous,” Fraser stated. “Our government has taken what could have been a simply worded ballot question and turned it into something very misleading.” Fraser thinks the question could easily have said, “Do you want to keep the present HST (Harmonized Sales Tax) in B.C.? Yes or No,” and she is not alone.
A quick poll of many community members of voting age found residents with equal dismay. “It will probably confuse some people, there is no doubt about it,” said local resident Kay Goglin. “I had watched on the news about it and read about it so was prepared to vote correctly, but not everyone has the time or is willing to do that beforehand. It could definitely have been asked in a simpler way to dismiss any confusion intended or otherwise.”
“What flipping genius wrote this,” Fraser asked Elections B.C. when she phoned to complain. “It isn’t just the ballot that angers me either,” Fraser admitted. “The advertising campaign by our provincial government causes more confusion regarding the HST ballot by reversing the “No” and “Yes” placement. It is very clever, if it is being used to manipulate the results.”
Fraser encourages all residents who have not yet filled out their HST ballot to make sure to take their time. “I really encourage people to read the questions carefully before marking an X down to vote. I don’t care how people vote, I just want them to understand how they are voting.”
A phone call to Elections B.C. confirmed that once a vote is mailed out, there is no recourse if a voter feels they have accidently voted against their own wishes. “Once a ballot is cast, it is final,” said the Elections B.C. spokesperson.
While Fraser admittedly was very disappointed by the ballot, she is more concerned that seniors and other groups who are more marginalized will be the main victims of the referendum vote. “In the instructions it says it is an offense to mislead in your declaration. The government has broken their own rule.”
Go to HSTinBCfacts.ca to make an educated decision.