Priorities Identified by the Field Liaison Officers (FLOs) During their February 16, 17, 18 and 19 Post-Mortem
1. Enhance support to additional assistant returning officers (AAROs)
Recommendations related to extending their tenure of office to provide a more continuous presence in the electoral district (ED); always including AARO offices as primary offices in our planning for pre- and post-writ activities; reviewing their election period remuneration; providing more adequate training; providing better training for returning officers (ROs) on how to effectively use these offices; installing high-speed Internet; providing e-mail access between and during events; conducting planning assignments before events; and gaining enhanced support from the ROs and Elections Canada (EC).
2. Pre-event assignments
A number of pre-event assignments are recommended before the next election, such as AAROs establishing their supply requirements for the next election; ROs establishing longer-term action plans for outreach programs and conducting preliminary outreach activities in their EDs; reviewing polling divisions (PD), advance polling districts (APD) and mobile polls (MP) boundaries; doing a poll key review and a polling site review; and performing the usual readiness checks.
3. Review the Tariff of Fees
In an effort to assist ROs in recruiting qualified individuals, a review of the Federal Elections Fees Tariff is recommended to make it more competitive, principally with our provincial counterparts. In addition, some positions need to be reviewed as and when their tasks are modified (see 1. above), which may result in different pay scales being required.
As well, FLOs indicated that it was critical to reinstate a monthly payment to ROs to maintain a constant state of readiness and ensure effective communications with EC and FLOs as part of efforts to professionalize the position of ROs. A number of other suggestions were also made, which will be provided to the Federal Elections Fees Tariff Review Committee.
4. Enhance information technology services
FLOs were very pleased to hear that ROs could have higher-speed Internet access at the 41st general election (depending on timing). They encourage EC to pursue its Voter Information Card (VIC) direct imprint project on a faster track if possible, perhaps by conducting incremental implementation in large urban centres; and encourage EC to further modernize AARO offices by providing e-mail access between and during events, electronic forms for revision activities to eliminate data entry errors and eventual access to RO office applications such as REVISE.
5. Develop further strategies for the recruitment of poll officials
FLOs fully support efforts to develop further strategies to help ROs cope with the massive recruitment of poll officials. In addition, they fully support any efforts to amend the Canada Elections Act to change the need to wait for lists of potential poll officials from candidates before making appointments and training poll officials.
6. Make the outreach programs ongoing
By conducting outreach activities in the field between events, this worthwhile program will be even more successful. The election period is too short to effectively carry out meaningful outreach activities, unless some contacts have been established pre-writ.
It was also recommended that a community relations officer position be added for outreach to seniors. This growing population requires special attention to ensure that they can continue to exercise their franchise without barriers.
7. Review flow of electors and roles and responsibilities on voting days
An adapted version of the New Brunswick, Saskatchewan and British Columbia municipal election models is possible at the federal level, with amendments to the Canada Elections Act. A potential model, for discussion purposes, was developed, which could serve as a starting point for further development, if desired.
8. Enhance training tools and sessions for field staff
FLOs fully support efforts to improve the tools provided for training poll officials in particular, to provide standardized training for training officers and AAROs who give training sessions in their area and to provide up-to-date manuals, to ensure consistency of service delivery across Canada.