Meeting Summary – General Meeting – December 4–5, 2014
CEO Update and Round Table
On the second day of the meeting, the CEO, Marc Mayrand, welcomed participants and gave an overview of electoral readiness activities since the October meeting.
The CEO mentioned that since October, EC met with the Advisory Group for Disability Issues to inform and seek their views on EC's preparatory activities for the next general election. Also, an informal briefing was held with the members of the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs, where the agendas of both ACPP meetings were shared.
Secure national voter database
EC has invested in a secure national voter database that can be updated in real time by returning officers and electors during an election. This database, which is expected to be fully operational by early March 2015, will improve the accuracy of the voters' lists and reduce registration on election day.
Assembly of First Nations
EC is also working with the Assembly of First Nations to seek its assistance in communicating with band administrators on reserve to promote registration and voter services in Canada's First Nations communities. Key objectives are to raise awareness of new voter identification requirements and of the process for issuing letters of confirmation attesting to the address of electors who reside on a reserve.
Role of scrutineers
As a follow-up to the discussion on voter identification at the last meeting, the CEO mentioned that participants would learn more later in the day about the process for the scrutineers' right to examine, but not handle, an elector's identification (ID). EC's objective is to ensure that candidates and electors are informed of the procedures that will be followed to apply this provision of the Act.
EC has undertaken a range of activities to help safeguard the integrity of the electoral process during the next general election and beyond. For example, the CEO has established an Electoral Integrity function within EC that will serve to:
- provide research information on the types of incidents that have surfaced in other similar jurisdictions – this is to be able to anticipate similar incidents in our own jurisdiction and be better prepared to respond to them
- increase business intelligence capacity to achieve a comprehensive view of questions and feedback from electors, political entities and field staff; this will help EC detect trends and anomalies and resolve incidents in a timely and coordinated fashion
- refer information about alleged offences under the Canada Elections Act to the Office of the Commissioner of Canada Elections
- manage the approach to seek and retain an audit firm whose task will be to conduct an independent audit of poll workers' performance on voting days, a new requirement of Bill C-23
Federal Elections Fees Tariff
In the coming months, Elections Canada will submit a proposal for changes to the Federal Elections Fees Tariff, a federal regulation that sets the remuneration of electoral workers.
EC is proposing an update to the Federal Election Fees Tariff for the following reasons:
- Rates for some clerical staff are below the minimum wage in Ontario and Nunavut.
- Recent changes to the Canada Elections Act entail new costs (i.e. the remuneration of field liaison officers, an additional advance voting day and extra duties of returning officers).
- Pay rates also have to be adjusted to reflect the increased responsibilities placed on some positions, especially the polling site officers.
Competitive rates of pay for election officers are critical to recruiting competent election officers. The federal voting operations are probably the most demanding on election officers, and the revised Federal Election Fees Tariff speaks to that.
EC's goal is to have the new tariff in place when the writ is dropped for the next general election.
Ensuring the coverage and the accuracy of the list of electors is important to the integrity of the election and helps reduce procedural errors tied to election day registration. Over the last year, 707,000 new electors were added to the register, and 250,000 deceased electors were removed. Address changes were made for over 3 million electors to reflect their moves.
In November 2014, EC met its statutory requirement to provide electoral lists to members of Parliament and political parties. In January 2015, EC will issue the annual list of electors. Additional information was included that will allow political parties to update their existing databases and, if they wish, convert them to the new electoral districts.
On the political financing side, EC has been working with political parties to facilitate the (pre)registration of electoral district associations (EDAs) under the new electoral districts, or the continuation of existing associations, as the case may be. EC is also currently assisting parties in deregistering EDAs that will no longer be active in the transition to the new electoral map. EC met the statutory requirement to provide products and be ready to run a general election under the 2013 Representation Order (338 electoral districts) as of May 1, 2014.
The CEO indicated that EC delivered by-elections on November 17, 2014, in Whitby–Oshawa and Yellowhead, and that the ACPP would be advised when the by-election is called in the currently vacant riding of Peterborough.
Several questions were raised about integrity and audit issues and the type of risks that EC was trying to manage. The CEO mentioned campaign activities that might compromise the election, risks related to compliance and enforcement, or any risks related to the exercise of the vote or the conduct of electoral officials.
The CEO was asked to summarize EC's work with the Assembly of First Nations (AFN) and to clarify the notion of acceptable address for electors. EC has worked with the AFN for the last three or four elections, particularly to communicate the new requirements on identification and to address issues related to ID that uniquely affect First Nations voters. Through the AFN, EC works with band administrators across the country on confirming or attesting to residence of First Nations electors on reserve and to share Electoral Reminder Program information.