At least two households in the western P.E.I. riding say they received calls from someone claiming to be from Elections Canada saying their polling station had been changed
Egmont riding in Prince Edward Island
Two P.E.I. households received robocalls during the last federal election from someone claiming to be from Elections Canada saying polling stations had been changed.
Robert Gallant, the vice president of the Liberal riding association in Egmont, said he has heard from two Islanders who say they got these calls on or just prior to election day.
One of the calls was made to a couple in Mont Carmel, one of whom spoke to The Guardian under a condition of anonymity.
The woman said she usually hangs up on automated calls of any kind, but only stayed on the line to listen to the entire message when it identified it was coming from Elections Canada.
"That was what grabbed my attention enough to say, ‘I need to hold onto this call," she said.
"Then as they were talking, I remember thinking, ‘Geez. It's pretty close to the election for something like this.' Then by the time the message was over and I realized they were telling me I had to go somewhere else to vote, it wasn't a real person so I couldn't ask (why)."
The caller said their polling station had been moved from Mont Carmel to Miscouche.
The couple checked their voter information card, which said nothing of a poll change, so they went to their proper polling station believing they could find out there if a switch had indeed been made. No change had been made and they voted as usual.
The woman said she did not register a complaint about the incident at the time but always had a bad feeling about it.
"It was something that I felt didn't seem right."
Questions about similar automated phone calls on election day in ridings across the country have been swirling for days, with the main concern being whether calls leading voters to incorrect voting locations could have influenced the outcome of some races. Elections Canada and the RCMP are investigating the robocalls.
National Revenue Minister and Egmont MP Gail Shea confirmed last week she did use robocalls during the spring federal election campaign, but says they were legitimate. It is not known whether the calls the Mont Carmel couple received came from the firm hired by Shea.
"It was something that I felt didn't seem right," Mont Carmel voter
The Mont Carmel woman said she has now filed an official complaint with Elections Canada over the call she received and has received confirmation they got her letter. Elections Canada is now in the process of investigating 31,000 similar complaints so the couple may have awhile to wait before someone probes her specific concerns.
"We don't have a proof, we don't have a recording, so this is why it's been harder to want to even call to talk about this," the Mont Carmel woman said.
"But I decided that this is something that is so important because it is truly, truly the foundation of the democratic system."
Gallant said he recently heard from another P.E.I. man who also got an automated call purporting to be from Elections Canada. The call was made to his cottage in the Malpeque riding, however, and he didn't get the message until after the election. Gallant said he's hoping to get access to the man's answering machine to see if the message can be retrieved.
In the meantime, the Liberal riding association in Egmont is organizing a meeting for residents to see if any other calls were received and to let people know what the party plans to do going forward. Details of this meeting have not yet been finalized.
Gallant says he believes a full public inquiry should be launched, given the wide scope of these robocalls and the concern they place over results of the federal election.
"I'd like to see a public inquiry because it would get to more of what happened, I believe. It would help the public to have more of an idea of what really went on here," Gallant said.