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Best Practices for Ensuring Compliance with Registration and Voting Procedures

Annex A – Canadian Interview Guide

Review of Practices for Ensuring Compliance with Voting and Registration Procedures

Interview Guide for Provincial and Territorial Electoral Management Bodies

Background

On May 18, 2012, the Ontario Superior Court of Justice issued a ruling that declared the May 2011 federal election of the member of Parliament for the electoral district of Etobicoke Centre to be "null and void." That election had been won by a margin of only 26 votes, as established in a judicial recount.

The sitting member of Parliament appealed the decision of the Ontario Superior Court to the Supreme Court of Canada, which heard the case on July 10 but reserved its judgment. (As of writing, a final decision from the Supreme Court has yet to be issued, but the ruling is expected at any time.)

The reasons the Ontario Superior Court gave in its decision supporting the opposing candidate's challenge to the election had to do with the significant number of "irregularities" administrative errors on the part of poll officials found in examining the records for 10 out of the district's 236 polling stations.

In response, Elections Canada hired the former Chief Electoral Officer of British Columbia, Mr. Harry Neufeld, to conduct a comprehensive review of processes on election day and at advance polls to determine the factors contributing to these errors and what may be done to minimize irregularities, both from an administrative and legislative perspective.

The review includes an examination and analysis of voting and polling day registration information from a sample of randomly selected polls across the country to determine whether processes were conducted in compliance with Elections Canada's standards and procedures.

Subsequently, the causes of any deviations will be examined, the effectiveness of the existing checks and balances will be assessed, and recommendations will be provided on how to minimize the occurrence of these deviations in the future. Key stakeholders, especially political parties and Elections Canada field staff, will be engaged throughout the project to help identify causes and potential solutions.

The findings and recommendations of the review will be detailed in a written report, to be submitted to the Chief Electoral Officer of Canada by March 31, 2013. The report will then be presented to Parliament along with an action plan to address the recommendations.

Introduction

We would like to thank you for agreeing to participate in this interview as an official of your organization. We hope that you can share information on any effective practices your organization has implemented to ensure compliance with election law and administrative requirements in your jurisdiction. Methods that are efficient, sustainable and "friendly" to both voters and poll staff (defined as those responsible for interacting with electors during voting and registration activities on election day and at advance polls) are of particular interest.

Privacy Notice

Please note that telephone interviews will take approximately one hour, and will be recorded for transcription and analysis purposes. Elections Canada is collecting this information for the purpose of establishing best practices adopted by electoral management bodies with regard to election law and compliance with administrative procedures, and to create a report on such best practices.

Elections Canada will not use your name or associate you personally with any comments you make. The report may be disclosed to all electoral management bodies who participated in the interview process and in accordance with the Access to Information Act. Preliminary findings will also be discussed at the Advisory Committee of Electoral Partners Conference on November 22 and 23, 2012.

Voting and Registration Procedures

  1. Describe the legal requirements governing registration and voting processes in your jurisdiction. How do these requirements guide procedures on election day or at advance polls? Are these requirements detailed and prescriptive, or general and open to administrative innovation?
  2. How have the legal requirements for registration and voting changed in the past decade? What were the reasons behind the changes? (Have the changes resulted in increased efficiency? More streamlined procedures? Added responsibilities for poll staff?)
  3. What types of staff typically work at voting places in your jurisdiction? At each ballot box?
  4. What are the key tasks that each of these types of staff must perform? Specifically, what are their responsibilities related to:
    a) Registration on election day? b) Voting on election day?
    c) Registration at advance polls? d) Voting at advance polls?
  5. What are the main challenges that poll staff face in performing their duties in full accordance with legal requirements? How has your organization addressed these challenges?

Recruitment and Training

  1. How are poll staff recruited in your jurisdiction? What criteria are used in the selection of staff? What role, if any, do political parties or candidates play in the nomination or recruitment of poll staff?
  2. Does your organization face challenges in recruiting sufficient qualified poll staff for an election? If yes, what methods have you used to ensure enough staff are available to conduct the election?
  3. Describe the training provided to poll staff. Specifically, please discuss:
    1. The duration of training
    2. Who gives the training (e.g. returning officer, expert "trainer," other)
    3. The topics covered
    4. Training methods (e.g. classroom, online, A/V presentations)
    5. Testing and evaluation
  4. What materials or aids (e.g. documents, manuals or other tools) are provided to poll staff in order to assist them in carrying out their responsibilities after they have been trained?
  5. What are the main challenges in training poll staff? Can you share any practices that your organization has implemented for overcoming these challenges? Have these practices been effective?

Monitoring Compliance and Auditing

  1. What role do political parties and candidates' representatives play in scrutinizing election day and advance poll procedures in your jurisdiction? What percentage of polls would you estimate have scrutineers present? Would it be desirable to have their level of involvement increased or reduced?
  2. Can you share any other practices that have been developed for monitoring or ensuring compliance in your jurisdiction (e.g. enhanced supervision, quality assurance mechanisms, automated tools or innovative voting service models)?
  3. Has your organization conducted any studies measuring the extent to which registration or voting procedures have been followed? If so, what were the key findings?

Wrap-up

  1. Do you have any additional comments that you wish to provide regarding practices to ensure effective compliance with election rules and procedures?

Thank you for your participation.