Independent audit report on the performance of the duties and functions of Election Officials – By-elections April 3, 2017
3 Our approach
In order to provide reasonable assurance as to whether Election Officials performed their duties and functions as prescribed by the CEA, we selected a representative sample from across all EDs and gathered sufficient and appropriate evidence to conclude on the audit objective. Evidence gathering techniques were comprised of direct observation, enquiries and inspection of election documents (representing the certificates, forms, reports and other paperwork required to serve an elector and document the results).
3.1 Approach to sample selection of polling sites
We selected a sample of polling sites within each ED. Our sample of polling sites was designed to reflect the population density and geography. For these by-elections, all polling sites were designated as urban according to EC's designation of polling divisions.
We conducted audit procedures, designed to test how Election Officials carried out specified duties, on site at polling stations at advance polls and on election day. The number of polling stations tested at each polling site varied to take into account electoral activity at the polling stations. Our testing procedures included observation of the duties of the Election Officials. We tested how Election Officials performed their duties with respect to approximately 400 electoral interactions. There are certain inherent limitations to our audit approach, including:
- The presence of our auditors at polling stations observing the performance of Election Officials as they carried out their duties had the potential to affect the way in which Election Officials carried out their duties.
- Eligible voter population characteristics such as age, income, ethnic origin and aboriginal identity were not available at the polling division level. Accordingly, we based our sample on EC's designation of polling divisions as urban which may not be representative of current demographics and may not reflect the demographics of the population of Election Officials.
These factors were discussed with and disclosed to EC.
Accordingly, our sampling and testing approach was designed specifically to support our overall audit mandate as specified by legislation at an aggregate level. For these electoral events, a by-election was called in 5 EDs. As requested by EC, our results are presented on an aggregate basis. We did not attempt to draw any conclusions with respect to the performance of officials serving a particular ED, polling site or polling station.
3.2 Assessment of Election Officials' compliance with legislative duties
In order to assess whether DROs, PCs and REGOs properly performed the duties imposed on them under the relevant sections of the Act, we determined that it was necessary to perform audit procedures on site at polling sites and stations at advance polls and on April 3, 2017.
We performed the following procedures at advance and election day polls.
- Observed the duties performed by the REGO at a sample of polling sites for a sample of electors served at the registration desk during our period of observation to verify that duties performed met the requirements of the CEA.
- Observed the duties performed by DROs and PCs for a sample of electors served during our period of observation at a sample of polling stations.
Our procedures were limited to observation without interacting or interfering with Election Officials as they were serving electors and administering their paperwork.
During advance polls, as well as on election day, we posed a series of questions to Election Officials to obtain their perspective on their training experience and supporting materials. We discuss our procedures in relation to our assessment of EC's approach to training and support of Election Officials in the section that follows.
3.3 Assessment of EC's approach to training and support of Election Officials
We performed the following procedures to assess EC's approach to training and supporting Election Officials to prepare them for their roles in relation to the by-election.
- Made enquiries with EC to understand significant changes to the overall design and delivery of the training program for Election Officials.
- Reviewed guides, manuals, videos and instructions ("training material") provided to Election Officials in relation to their duties on advance polling and on polling days to assess whether the information provided is complete, sufficient and appropriate for the effective discharge of their responsibilities.
- Compared the training presentation and guidance materials prepared for the 2016 by-election and the current by-elections. We restricted our review to ordinary poll training materials for DROs and PCs as it relates to the duties and functions of these Election Officials within the scope of this audit. Our review did not include an analysis of the training related to duties out of scope such as reconciling ballots, counting ballots and closing the polling station/site.
- Conducted interviews with ROs, recruitment officers and training officers in a sample of EDs to understand the design of the training program and the delivery of the training curriculum to participants.
- Reviewed the Training Officer Reference Guide issued to the training officers which provides guidance on how to prepare to train poll workers and managing and delivering the training program.
- Conducted interviews with training officers in a sample of EDs to obtain an understanding of their perspective on the effectiveness of the support, tools and guidance that is provided to Election Officials.
- Observed the delivery of training to Election Officials at selected training sessions.
- Conducted enquiries with Election Officials during periods of elector inactivity at the polls.