Meeting Summary – General Meeting – December 4–5, 2014
Guidelines to Scrutineers
This session was led by Michel Roussel, Deputy Chief Electoral Officer, Electoral Events. The Guidelines were distributed to ACPP members in advance of the meeting. Mr. Roussel mentioned that the scrutineer is sometimes the only witness to interactions between electors and election officials; therefore, the scrutineer's role in attesting to the election is an important function in ensuring integrity.
Considerable concerns were expressed by members about this aspect of Bill C-23. Some members alleged that since parties have access to extensive data, they can determine where the competition is tight and may target these areas with voter suppression tactics, such as using scrutineers' rights to inspect ID to slow down voting. Concerns were also raised about informing electors of their rights to refuse to show their ID to candidates' representatives if they do not want to. In response to a question, Mr. Roussel stated that the voting process between electors and EC is complex. Rules apply that are not displayed on our posters, as posters tend to speak to the basics. Electors have to show their ID; it is mandatory. They will be informed of this and their rights will be explained at the polling station. If electors strongly insist on their privacy and refuse to comply with the policy to have ID examined by a scrutineer, then the deputy returning officer (DRO) will inform the elector that he or she will still receive a ballot after showing their ID to poll officials, and that the incident will be logged.
Following a series of questions and concerns from members on what a central poll supervisor (CPS) would do if scrutineers systematically challenge ID, Mr. Roussel clarified that there is a process in place at the polling station where the DRO calls the CPS the minute he or she thinks there is a problem. The CPS must assess the motive for the ID questions being posed by scrutineers, and has the power to expel scrutineers who are disrupting electoral activities.
In response to a question, Mr. Roussel replied that scrutineers can ask the DRO to ask the elector to take an oath. There are cases where the scrutineer may require that an oath be taken, and it can be mandatory, when the address does not show that an elector resides in that particular polling division. Those instances will be recorded in the poll book. It was reiterated that EC expects scrutineers to play a constructive role in ensuring the trust of electors in the electoral system.