Alberta woman who legally changed name raises safety concerns after stolen identity appears on voter card

·4 min read
Elections Canada says there are many ways that these types of errors can occur, but they are working on a solution. (Ryan Remiorz/The Canadian Press - image credit)
Elections Canada says there are many ways that these types of errors can occur, but they are working on a solution. (Ryan Remiorz/The Canadian Press - image credit)

Kismet Caffet used to be known by a different name, but in 2014 — after a family member stole her identity and used it for financial gain — she legally changed it.

Since then she's voted in a number of elections under her new legal name, and informed everyone from the Canada Revenue Agency to Elections Canada of the change.

But last week, she got an unwanted reminder of her past.

"What Elections Canada did is they associated my current address with that stolen identity when they sent a voter's registration card to that name, to my current address," she said.

'This is a safety issue'

Caffet now fears the person who stole her identity will be able to track her down.

"As a result, I have to move, which, in my instance is a little more complicated than for the average person because I'm actually disabled and in a wheelchair," she said.

"This is a safety issue. It took me moving several times and putting distance between that old identity to be able to feel safe and to not have the cloud of that toxic person constantly in my life and the threat there that they could show up at any time."

But that's no the only issue. The fact that Caffet received two voter cards also gives her concerns over election integrity.

Two voter cards

"I could theoretically vote twice," she said. "And the fact that they're sending voter registration cards out to known stolen identities is an issue in of itself."

Spokesman Matthew McKenna said Elections Canada can't speak on specific cases, but confirmed that they have been in touch with Caffet.

"I understand that they filed a complaint and it was taking some time, but I know that I can confirm for sure that officials have been in touch with this person."

Kismet Caffet
Kismet Caffet

McKenna said there are a number of reasons something like this could occur. He said the National Register of Electors is "complicated" because it collects data from myriad sources.

'We apologize'

"Whether it's other electoral management bodies or provincial and territorial drivers bureaus … it really is case by case, and it really depends on what those sources of data are for any given elector," he said.

"Maybe we've got three or four pieces of information that are elected with the correct name, but one comes in with the incorrect name and then that increases the chances that voter information goes out either with a dead name or with the name the elector has opted not to use."

Ultimately, McKenna said it's an issue they're trying to address.

"We apologize and it's unfortunate. We're working on it and it's something that we do need to improve on our end," he said. "We are always striving to make sure that things like this don't happen and we sympathize with the electorate's frustration."

McKenna said elections Canada is working on ensuring Caffet can vote on Monday, but Caffet says that does little to allay her safety concerns.

"This isn't just for me. I'm lucky enough that I'm just at risk from one person. If this happens to someone who's transgender, that could turn their entire world upside down and expose them to attacks on all fronts," she said.

"This is a safety issue that Elections Canada just isn't taking seriously."

Changing names with Elections Canada

In terms of the general process for electors to request a name or gender change with Elections Canada, McKenna said it's important to reach out directly.

"Ideally before an election is called. Doing so mitigates the risk of issues with their voter information in the National Register of Electors, and ensures it is updated appropriately," he said.

If an elector tries to update their information online or at the polls using their new name, McKenna said it will likely create a new record in the National Register of Electors, rather than updating the previous one.

"Because of this, an elector may then receive a voter information card for both names — for that election or in future ones — if the duplicate record was not identified," he said.

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