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Compliance Review – Interim Report – A Review of Compliance with Election Day Registration and Voting Process Rules

Annex H – Summary of Workshop Participant Questionnaire Responses

Workshop Questionnaire - Combined Responses

At the start of each of the three stakeholders' group workshops, a questionnaire was administered to gain initial impressions from participants.

There were 20 field management personnel (Returning Officers and Field Liaison Officers) from across Canada in the first workshop; 10 political party "technical experts" on electoral process in the second workshop; and 19 front line poll workers from the recent by-elections in the third workshop. Names and related information for these participants is in the next section (Annex I) of this document.

While the Reviewer does not suggest that these results are statistically relevant, they are presented here to give the reader a sense of what stakeholders thought as they engaged as a group to address the question of compliance improvement on the part of election officers.

Responses often indicate a certain amount of majority opinion, but also show that participants from different groups came to the discussion with markedly different perspectives. At times the difference in perspective reflects a clear priority for that group. A good example of this is the responses to question 9 where political parties' technical experts had no clear, combined view of any single measure that would make the most difference, but poll workers did for more than half of them it was about reducing complexity.

Interestingly, it was observed at the end of each workshop that general positions (indicated in a review of the combined questionnaire responses of each group) did not change appreciably after detailed discussion and debate.

Compliance Review Workshop Questionnaire

  1. Recently the Supreme Court of Canada reversed a decision of the Ontario Superior Court which had declared the May 2011 election in one federal riding "null and void" due to irregularities in the form of procedural errors by poll officials. The Ontario court's reasons for overturning the election was: (circle one)*
    1. The number of serious errors exceeded the margin of victory.
    2. In a sample of only ten polls, 79 votes were found to have been cast illegally.
    3. Procedural documentation was either incomplete or entirely missing for many cases of voter registration and identity vouching.
    4. All of the above.
    5. None of the above.
    a b c d e
    ROs/FLOs 25% 5% 15% 55% 0%
    Political Parties 22% 0% 22% 56% 0%
    Poll Workers 17% 11% 22% 50% 0%

    Note: * This question was worded slightly differently for the Returning Officer/Field Liaison Officer workshop because the workshop happened prior to the Supreme Court decision being released.

  2. An audit of procedural compliance done on the returned documentation for disputed polls, which had been the subject of the Ontario court case, will show that election officers were following the training and written instructions they received: (circle one)
    1. 99% or more of the time.
    2. 95% or more of the time.
    3. 85% or more of the time.
    4. 70% or more of the time.
    5. 60% or more of the time.
    6. Less than 60% of the time.
    a b c d e f
    ROs/FLOs 30% 5% 10% 50% 0% 5%
    Political Parties 0% 56% 22% 11% 11% 0%
    Poll Workers 0% 5% 5% 21% 21% 47%
  3. Full compliance with the legal rules and required administrative procedures regarding election day registration and voting processes is a problem with: (circle one)
    1. A very small number of election officers in every electoral district.
    2. Approximately one-third of all poll officials hired at an election.
    3. About half of all election officials hired for election day.
    4. Most election officials working in Canadian federal elections.
    a b c d
    ROs/FLOs 35% 35% 20% 10%
    Political Parties 70% 20% 10% 0%
    Poll Workers 26% 47% 21% 5%
  4. A publically acceptable error rate* for poll officials working in a Canadian federal election is: (circle one)
    1. 0%
    2. 1  2%
    3. 3  5%
    4. 5  10%
    5. More than 10%
    a b c d e
    ROs/FLOs 55% 20% 20% 5% 0%
    Political Parties 56% 44% 0% 0% 0%
    Poll Workers 33% 33% 22% 11% 0%

    Note: Due to discussion at the RO/FLO workshop, the word 'publically' was added to this question for the two later workshops.

  5. The main reason that poll officials do not follow the rules, procedures and standards they are trained on, and provided written instruction and guidelines for, is: (circle one)
    1. Inadequate skills.
    2. Insufficient training.
    3. Overly complex procedures.
    4. Limited supervision and oversight.
    5. Pressure to take short-cuts when there are long line-up of waiting voters.
    6. All of the above.
    a b c d e f
    ROs/FLOs 0% 10% 0% 0% 0% 90%
    Political Parties 0% 20% 0% 0% 10% 70%
    Poll Workers 0% 17% 6% 0% 6% 72%
  6. Do you think that the working conditions for election officers who work on election day (a 14  16 hour workday, no meal or coffee breaks, minimum wage compensation) is a factor in compliance? (circle one)
    1. Yes.
    2. No.
    a b
    ROs/FLOs 90% 10%
    Political Parties 80% 20%
    Poll Workers 50% 50%
  7. Based on your knowledge, have the roles, decision-making responsibilities and work complexity of election officers (specifically Deputy Returning Officers and Poll Clerks) changed over the past two decades? (circle one)
    1. Yes an increase in complexity.
    2. No nothing of significance has changed.
    3. Yes complexity has been reduced and procedures have been simplified.
    a b c
    ROs/FLOs 90% 10% 0%
    Political Parties 67% 22% 11%
    Poll Workers 65% 18% 18%
  8. What single administrative procedure change (not involving legislative amendments) do you think would make the greatest improvement to the levels of procedural compliance by poll officials? (circle one)
    1. Improved recruitment to hire appropriately skilled personnel.
    2. Better quality training.
    3. Skill testing after training and before assignment.
    4. Improved supervision and oversight.
    5. A comprehensive quality assurance program.
    a b c d e
    ROs/FLOs 21% 37% 21% 0% 21%
    Political Parties 0% 33% 0% 33% 33%
    Poll Workers 0% 53% 32% 16% 0%
  9. If legislative change regarding election day registration and voting procedures was possible, what single measure would be most effective, in your opinion, to meet the objective of achieving a very high level of compliance with election law and supporting administrative procedures: (circle one)
    1. Streamline procedures and minimize administrative complexity.
    2. Assign civil servants legal responsibility to act as election day voting officials.
    3. Eliminate voter registration at the time of voting anyone who isn't pre-registered should not be given a ballot.
    4. Eliminate all candidate appointments of poll officials.*
    5. Provide training and pay candidate representatives (scrutineers) to attend at polling stations.**
    6. Eliminate the ability of one voter to vouch for the identity of another voter anyone without proper ID should not be given a ballot.
    7. Introduce an entirely new voting service model that is simpler, more efficient, more voter-friendly but continues to feature all the safeguards needed to prevent unqualified persons from casting a ballot.
    a b c d e f g
    ROs/FLOs 40% 0% 0% N/A 0% 5% 55%
    Political Parties 20% 20% 10% 20% 0% 10% 20%
    Poll Workers 56% 0% 6% 0% 0% 11% 28%

    Notes: * Response 'd' was included as an option only for the last two workshops
    **In the RO/FLO workshop this option included only paying scrutineers and not (also) training them.

  10. Based on your knowledge, what approach would you recommend Elections Canada seriously consider for improved procedural compliance in the 2015 General Election, and in elections that follow: (circle one)
    1. Review all administrative procedures and concentrate on streamlining, simplifying and optimizing every process.
    2. Prepare legislative change suggestions that would permit greater administrative flexibility, a more user-friendly and service-oriented voter experience, and reduced complexity for election workers.
    3. Propose legislative change to introduce an entirely new approach to voting services with a delivery model that minimizes the opportunity for election official error, works efficiently with a completely manual implementation, but offers the opportunity for improved efficiencies and better service levels through the gradual adoption of automation and computerized communications.
    a b c
    ROs/FLOs 25% 25% 50%
    Political Parties 37% 13% 50%
    Poll Workers 42% 21% 37%