Masked voters casting ballots, and it’s all legal

Mummers, potato sacks and clown masks: Why people are voting in silly face coverings

Who was that masked voter? That seems to be the refrain around the country as face coverings of all kinds appear to be a growing trend in the Canadian election.

Over the Thanksgiving long weekend, various people in Newfoundland, Quebec and Alberta were photographed in garb ranging from clown costumes to horses heads casting their ballot in advance polls.

It seems the purpose for doing so is either to mock Stephen Harper’s focus on the niqab as a political ploy or to make a stand that niqabs have no place in the business of the nation.

In fact, a Quebec woman launched the Facebook group “Le 19 octobre, on vote à visage couvert!” encouraging people to cover their faces when they vote. Just prior to the advance polls over the Thanksgiving long weekend, Catherine Leclerc said she had more than 9,000 people pledging to do so.

Leclerc said she created the call to cover because she has been frustrated by the inability of governments to ban religious garb. She emphasizes that her action isn’t against any particular group but just a demand for secularism in the democratic process. She and other volunteers are removing any racist comments on their page.

Members of the group are now posting pictures of themselves at the advance polls wearing all kinds of bizarre outfits from pirate gear to a horse head to fancy Venetian masks. One man who dressed in his own version of a niqab using what looked like a checkered tablecloth. Many others simply wrapped their heads with the Quebec flag.

In Dorval, a man voted while clad in a clown’s costume while another man in Gatineau, just across the river from Ottawa, voted in a ghost costume and a woman wearing a potato sack on her head cast her ballot with a potato sack on her head.

Quebec comedian Adib Alkhalidey took to his Facebook page to mock those who felt the need to make a statement about the niqab, urging those who did so to put a penis on their head the next time they make love to ensure the humanity of future generations.

Though he got more than 8,000 likes, Alkhalidey Akhalide also attracted negative reaction with some urging him to return to his country. Alkhalidey says he can’t do that since he’s lived in Quebec all his life.

According to Elections Canada rules, citizens are allowed to vote with a face covering.

“It doesn’t matter what kind of covering it is. It can be a mask or a niqab but there is nothing to stop electors from showing up with a covering. They are welcome,” Dugald Maudsley of Elections Canada tells Yahoo Canada News.

“When they do have [a face covering] they are offered a choice: show their face or take an oath attesting to their eligibility to vote and provide two pieces of identification, one of which has to have a current address.”

Maudsley says he doesn’t know of any circumstance yet in which a voter has been turned away simply because he/she has a face covering.

“All the poll workers have been trained to deal specifically with all manner of voting. Everyone is allowed to vote.”

Maudsley also noted that Canadians can vote by mail and in that case, aren’t required to provide a photo ID.

“It’s not that different from voting by mail.”

Elections Canada does not keep track the number of people showing up in costume or face coverings, said Maudsley who noted he had seen reports on TV of strangely-garbed electors. While there have been reports in the past of people doing so and being noted down for it, that’s not something Elections Canada does.

“Clearly people are wearing a variety of costumes in this election.”

It’s not just a Quebec trend. St. John’s businessman Jon Keefe decided he had enough of the niqab debate, which he felt detracted from real issues. He called out to his fellow Newfoundlanders on Facebook to show up as mummers.

The province has a Christmas tradition of mummering in which people dress up in strange costumes and go from house to house to dance and to drink.

Keefe showed up at a poll on Saturday in a floral dress, florescent yellow pantyhose and an elaborate face mask.

“There’s a mistaken belief that covering your face is somehow against Canadian values,” he told The Telegram newspaper.

And out West, in Edmonton, a man kitted out as a cowboy with a hat and kerchief covering his face voted while being filmed by a woman using her iPad. According to another voter, officials at the polling station in SW Edmonton were more concerned about the iPad telling the woman it was illegal to film inside a polling station.

And Gale Throne of Calgary posted a video saying she voted in a full ski mask to prove that she could have been anyone. Throne railed against what she sees as bending over for “political correctness.”

“All they did was pull out a little green book and said, ‘Are you such-and-such a person?’ I said ‘yes’ and that was it. And off I went to vote. Wow.”

Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting