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

Structure and Approach to the Review

The project plan for the Compliance Review identifies six major steps:

  1. Information gathering via interviews, audits and research;
  2. Identifying causes for non-compliance and developing solution options with key stakeholders;
  3. Consulting stakeholders on interim findings to obtain their feedback;
  4. Finalizing recommendations for addressing compliance for the 2015 election, and beyond;
  5. Preparing and submitting a final report of recommendations to the Chief Electoral Officer;
  6. Making Elections Canada's management response and action plan public with the final report.

Each of these steps depend heavily on the support and cooperation of Elections Canada staff to undertake detailed analysis and research; perform audit activity; provide logistical coordination and administrative support associated with establishing and running interviews, meetings and workshops; and in distributing documents and collecting and organizing feedback.

However, senior level staff from Elections Canada agreed, from the project's outset, that it was not appropriate for them to participate in any of the sessions with the key stakeholder groups. Their absence was used to encourage the personal conclusions and informed opinions of participants to be communicated in a completely unfiltered and frank manner.

To further solicit honest and candid assessments and to allow review participants to speak freely about their own experience and observations with regard to poll worker compliance, the approach communicated throughout the review has been that specific information is never attributed to individuals in the written documentation produced as a result of the project.

At the same time, the review has placed significant value on accountability. It has provided follow-up notes for verification and feedback to participants of each workshop session, provided documents for review and reference to all meeting participants, and has committed to deliver completed research reports back to those who participated in surveys and questionnaires.

A major objective of the Compliance Review has been to collect information and insights rooted in experience, observation, research and investigative queries from as broad a spectrum as possible to achieve a thorough baseline of understanding regarding election worker compliance issues before a recommendation is developed.

Following the Supreme Court decision on the Etobicoke Centre case, it was determined that a structural distinction needed to be made between all errors and the more serious errors made by election officers on Election Day.

In the audit summary (Annex B), and throughout this report, "non-compliance" refers to all instances of derogations from prescribed rules and requirements, as required either by the Canada Elections Act or instructions issued by the Chief Electoral Officer.

"Irregularities" is a reference to the term as defined by the Supreme Court and covers a narrower but more significant set of derogations that could form the basis of a contested election. These are serious errors where specific rules used to establish an elector's entitlement to vote have not been followed.

Throughout the review, the approach taken in discussions has emphasized determining the primary causes of non-compliance, and identifying solutions that would be most effective in preventing serious errors from recurring in the 2015 election, and in elections that follow.

The approach to recommendations will focus on actions that should be taken to minimize the extent of non-compliance on the part of election officers generally and eliminating irregularities specifically.