News / Ottawa

Local voters victims of robocalls: Grit hopeful

Voters in Ottawa-Orleans received the now-infamous robocalls on election day and harassing phone calls from U.S. phone banks, says the riding's losing federal Liberal candidate.

Both types of calls added to the confusion when a real polling station mix-up happened.

The calls targeted “Liberal-leaning” households during the dinner hour and late at night, and the callers ' actual live people ' would be rude, call back incessantly and falsely claim to be calling from the Liberal party, according to former candidate David Bertschi.

“The sole purpose we identified was to suppress voting and make people fed up, essentially,” said Bertschi.

Supporters who looked up the calls found they were from North Dakota and Montana, he said.

Robocalls purporting to be from Elections Canada came on election day and told voters polling stations had changed when they hadn't, Bertschi said.

But Elections Canada actually did change some stations. At the time, an Elections Canada spokesman said a returning officer had made an error entering the change into a computer so some people received voter cards with the wrong polling location.

Some who showed up at Beatrice-Desloges Catholic High School were told to go vote at their new polling station a couple of blocks away.

When Bertschi's campaign learned of the error, they called about 50 supporters to tell them they should confirm their poll locations with Elections Canada.

“We were told on many occasions, ‘We are so fed up by the whole thing we're not voting,'” Bertschi said.

Bertschi lost the election to Conservative Royal Galipeau by about six per cent. He said Liberals may ask for byelections because of the problems. If they are held, he says he hopes to run for the party again.

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