In what can only be called hysteria we see people going simply apoplectic about the revelations that fraudulent dials were used in the last federal election. The reason the reaction to this is so strong is twofold. The Liberals under Rae are so profoundly weak that they need anything to try and capture the attention of the public thus they will grasp at anything they see as a possible thread to exploit (the NDP are not far behind). The other reason that people are so worked up is that electoral fraud is a terribly serious issue.
Right off the start in the race to point fingers we saw people attacking Matt Meier from RackNine Inc. The National Post even used a couple of Matt’s facebook pictures from what appear to be vacations to try and portray him as some sort of political jetsetter. Let’s get this straight. Matt is simply a young business man who provided a service that was abused by a client. Blaming Matt and RackNine for what happened is akin to blaming a car dealership for selling a car that was later used in a bank robbery. I have known Matt for a few years through politics and he has never demonstrated anything but principled business practices.
I think perhaps that some people don’t fully understand how modern dialing works and how the service provider does not know what goes out. Dialing has become much cheaper (as we can see with the mass influx of calls in the last few years). This is due to leaps in communications technology and user interface that allows for essentially self-serve service.
I have used RackNine in both provincial and civic applications ( for legitimate and legal though perhaps annoying use). The process is very simple. After having set up an account, you can set up your dial online. You upload your list, set up the time and type of dial and record your message through the phone with a touch-tone interface. After that it all happens through the magic of automation and you never directly interact with the owner/operator while setting up the dial (unless harassing for tech support 😉 ). I can’t imagine how many dials were set up during the federal election but it simply isn’t reasonable to expect that Matt would know the content of a few if any of the dials. That is not his role.
It looks like the fraudulent dialing may indeed have impacted one of the ridings in Eastern Canada to the point where the result is in question. It was won by less than 30 votes and yes I think it is plausible that a dial misdirecting people could swing the vote by that much. If this is proven to be the case, I would like to see the person/people directly responsible criminally charged and a by-election held in that riding. This is extremely serious business and there sould be zero tolerance for tampering in an election.
It will not make it easier to identify and prosecute the real culprits here if we remain focused on the service provider however. Matt has demonstrated that he is fully cooperating with every aspect of the investigation. His reputation and business is on the line. We want to see people punished for this but let’s not let innocent business folks get dragged through the mud that an unprincipled client created.