Remote Yukoners voted by video, then found out those ballots won't count

Aedes Scheer and her husband Norm Carlson were mighty pleased to cast ballots in the federal election, by video from their remote off-grid cabin in Yukon.

Too bad those ballots aren't valid.

"It's strictly against the rules," said Marie-France Kenny, spokesperson for Elections Canada. "The alternative voting methods that are not explicitly permitted in the [Elections] Act are not allowed, under any circumstances."

Scheer (who's not related to the Conservative leader) and Carlson thought they had solved their conundrum — how to vote, when they're miles downriver from the nearest town or post office?

"There's no road access. It's a boat in the summer or snow machine in the winter. And occasionally a helicopter if that's required, but that's pretty expensive," Scheer said.

Even the 132-kilometre boat trip to Dawson City can be costly — assuming it's even possible. Scheer said they originally planned to make the trip in order to vote, but the water levels in the Yukon River were looking very low and they worried about getting stuck along the way.

There had to be a solution, they figured. Maybe they could use their satellite internet connection, the way Carlson did in the last territorial election?

They contacted Yukon's returning officer as well as some of Yukon's candidates, to explain their dilemma.

"Apparently an astronaut has voted from the International Space Station using some sort of video calling," Scheer said.

"We're not that remote, but we're fairly remote — and so they worked that angle."

American astronauts, who are residents of Texas, have been voting in local, state and federal elections from space since 1997, according to NASA. It's done through emails however, not by video.

Submitted by Norm Carlson

Soon enough, Scheer and Carlson made arrangements with election officials in Yukon, to connect by video through Facebook.

"We gave them the candidate's name, they wrote it on the ballot and we watched them drop it into the ballot box on video — and that was it," Scheer said.

Except it wasn't.

Elections Canada officials said Yukon's returning officer was misguided, and Scheer and Carlson's video votes won't actually count.

"We understand the returning officer in Yukon was well-meaning, and attempted to ensure that every elector gets to vote. But the Act allows certain ways of voting and doesn't allow other ways of voting," said Kenny.

"We've reached out to our returning officer for Yukon and to the electors involved and we're trying to determine what the next steps will be."

Scheer said earlier that she was pleased with the flexibility that — she thought — was afforded them.

"Surely we're not the only ones in Canada who are living remotely, and face this same sort of situation," she said.