The Canada Elections Act and "Reasonable Accommodation"

The Canada Elections Act has recently been amended to require photo identification of voters. Elections Canada, the body responsible for enforcing the Act, has ruled that "electors wearing face coverings for religious practices" do not have to provide photo identification when voting but can provide two pieces of "authorized" identification or be "vouched for" by another elector. Is this a reasonable interpretation of the act. Requiring photo identification becomes rather redundant if one cannot compare the photo to the elector.

What is "reasonable accommodation in these circumstances. According to the Globe and Mail a number of Canadian Muslim organizations have criticized Elections Canada's handling of the issue. "Mohamed Elmasry, head of the Canadian Islamic Congress, which says it is the country's largest Muslim organization, said Muslim groups were not consulted about the rule change. If they had been, he said, he would have told officials that the small minority of Muslim women - perhaps as few as just 50 of Canada's 750,000 Muslims - who wear the niqab would have no problem showing their faces to a female election worker to verify their identity."

It seems that all that was required was consultation with the people affected and a much more reasonable accommodation, one that does not conflict with the spirit, if not the letter of the law, could have been made.

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