Performance Report – For the period ending March 31, 2012
Chief Electoral Officer's Message
Elections Canada conducted the 41st general election on May 2, 2011, the fourth election in a seven-year period. The agency successfully completed several initiatives in time for the election: we improved accessibility of polling sites, piloted the use of the voter information card as identification for specific categories of electors in designated locations and carried out new outreach efforts at seniors' residences and long-term care facilities.
Substantial efforts were also dedicated to post-election activities during the reporting period. My report on the conduct of the 41st general election was presented to Parliament in August 2011. We provided training on political financing to candidates, official agents and auditors. We carried out compliance reviews of financial returns of political parties and candidates, and we reimbursed close to $55 million in election expenses as of September 13, 2012. Over the past year, we undertook five major national public opinion studies with various stakeholders to assess their experience with and the administration of the 41st general election. The results of these studies were published on the Elections Canada website and supported the development of a consolidated evaluation report, to be made available this fall.
Although our attention was focused on delivering the 41st general election and carrying out post-event activities, Elections Canada made significant progress on its plans and priorities for 2011–2012. We carried out a number of initiatives to engage young people in the democratic process and understand their attitudes toward it: we commissioned the National Youth Survey, undertook an evaluation of the Student Vote program and launched the first annual Canada's Democracy Week. We also commissioned research to deepen our understanding of the factors affecting the participation of Aboriginal electors and electors with disabilities.
In addition, the agency completed the preparatory phase of and launched the process for readjusting Canada's federal electoral boundaries. With the modernization of our information technology (IT) infrastructure, we have improved the agency's ability to deliver new services to electors and political entities. The first two services – online voter registration, or E-Registration, and the Political Entities Registration System (PERS) – were successfully launched in spring 2012.
While fiscal restraint will significantly limit our capacity to further modernize services offered to both political entities and electors in time for the next general election, we have developed a modest plan to guide our efforts over the 2012–2015 period, as a step toward our long-term vision. This three-year plan will introduce several improvements for the 2015 general election, such as expanding the use of the voter information card as proof of identity and address, establishing new locations for voting by special ballot, and conducting pilot projects to test more efficient voting processes at the polls.
While Canadians were generally satisfied with the conduct of the 41st general election, two events have attracted much attention. The first concerned alleged fraudulent telephone calls made during the election, an issue under investigation by the Commissioner of Canada Elections. In parallel, I plan to report to Parliament next year on the challenges posed by the use of new information and communications technology by participants in the electoral process and suggest improvements to the legal framework to help address these challenges.
The second event was the contested election in Etobicoke Centre, which is still before the courts. Regardless of the decision, Elections Canada is placing a high priority on strengthening measures to improve compliance with the procedures and standards applicable on voting days.
In closing, recent events and our post-election evaluations reinforce the need to take immediate steps to modernize the electoral framework and ensure that the electoral process continue to meet Canadians' high expectations.
Chief Electoral Officer of Canada