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2000 General Election Post-event Overview


Executive Summary

This report presents a review of the 37th general election post-event overview undertaken by Elections Canada. The main objectives were to evaluate the levels of satisfaction among electors and stakeholders and to identify areas that could be improved. Two national surveys of electors (Ipsos-Reid and the 2000 Canadian Election Study) provided an insight into the opinions of the whole electorate. Some individual groups such as youth, Aboriginal people, representatives of special-needs associations and ethnocultural associations, were specifically surveyed. Insights into the views of stakeholders came from surveys of candidates, political parties, registered third parties, academics specialized in electoral matters, and returning officers.

Electors

Elections Canada's information program was positively perceived by electors and academics. The Elections Canada advertisement asking "Are you on the list?" had a very high recall rate among the electorate, while the voter information card was reported to be the principal source of information about voting procedures. Candidates, political parties and returning officers, however, expressed some dissatisfaction with the information provided to electors.

Eighty-three percent of electors reported having received a voter information card correctly addressed to their name. Among those who received one containing incorrect information –or who did not get one –the majority undertook to correct the situation, and most of them found it easy to do so. Meanwhile, candidates, political parties and returning officers indicated low levels of satisfaction with the revision process and the registration process on polling day. The main areas identified as needing improvement were the 1 800 INFO-VOTE service, the voter information card program and the REVISE system.

Among electors who reported having voted, a large majority indicated that they found the voting method that they chose to be easy. Most of the non-voters reported political or personal reasons for not registering or voting.

Many suggestions were made to improve voter participation. These include enhancing voter education, improving location of polling stations, implementing mandatory voting, adopting proportional representation, having fixed-date elections, extending the voting period and making polling day a national holiday.

Electors clearly supported the use of the Internet for different electoral purposes, such as verifying voter information, verifying polling site locations and offering general information on voting procedures. Electors also supported using the Internet for registering and, to a lesser extent, for voting. It was pointed out, however, that should Internet registration and voting be implemented, new measures are needed to ensure secrecy, privacy and security, and to protect the monitoring of the processes.

Candidates, Political Parties and Third Parties

Among the services and material provided by Elections Canada, satisfaction was expressed with the nomination kit, the third-party registration kit, and the information provided on financing. Suggestions were made to improve the 1 800 support network for parties and candidates, to improve communications about third-party policies, and to further develop permanent liaisons between Elections Canada on the one hand and political parties and candidates on the other.

Overall, high satisfaction rates were expressed with the candidate nomination and verification processes, and with the third-party registration process. Representatives of political parties, however, indicated some dissatisfaction with the nomination process. Suggestions were made that this process be simplified and that the nomination process begin before the election is called.

Electors strongly supported the public's right to know from whom and where political parties and candidates get their campaign funds, and supported limits on election funding and spending. Candidates, political party representatives and academics generally agreed with extending disclosure requirements to local associations, political party leadership contests and contributions received by members of Parliament between elections. However, dissatisfaction was expressed about the timeliness of the current disclosure requirement for political parties and candidates.

It was also suggested that broadcasting time be allocated more equally among all legitimate political parties, and that the concept of "advertisement" be defined further in the Canada Elections Act.