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Independent audit report on the performance of the duties and functions of Election Officials – By-elections April 3, 2017

4 Findings – Major and Other Observations

Our audit findings and conclusions are presented on an aggregate level. Our results are not attributed to any specific ED, polling site, polling station or election official. Our key findings and other observations are described below.

4.1 Performance of the duties and functions of Election Officials

A Canadian citizen who is at least 18 years of age on election day may vote in the ED in which they reside. The CEA provides procedural safeguards designed to protect the integrity of the electoral process, one of which requires electors to prove eligibility (identity and residence) before receiving a ballot. For most electors who are already registered at their current address and therefore included on the List of Electors, election day procedures involve a simple, efficient check of one or more pieces of acceptable identification to confirm identity and address of residence. Based on the sample tested, approximately 92% of electors voted in this manner in these by-elections on an aggregate basis. The remaining 8% of electors required special administrative procedures prior to being issued a ballot and exercising their right to vote.

The following table outlines circumstances that require special procedures as well as the approximate percentage of electors (making up the 8% referred to above).

Special Circumstances Percentage of electors (Approximate)
An elector is not on the List of Electors for their polling division (Registration Certificate). 3.0%
An elector requires a minor correction to their electoral information on the List of Electors (Correction Certificate). 3.5 %
An elector is previously crossed off as voted on the List of Electors (Correction Certificate).

N/A*

An elector does not have identification with their address; requires an attestor to provide proof of the elector's residence (Oath of Residence Certificate). 1.5 %
An elector's qualification/entitlement or residence is challenged (verbal oath of qualification or residence).

N/A*

An elector is voting by transfer certificate (Transfer Certificate).

N/A*

Total 8.0 %

*Circumstance was not observed during testing.

4.2 Major findings

4.2.1 No major findings resulting from deviations in key controls and procedures for regular electors

Our testing did not identify any major findings from deviations in key controls and procedures for regular electors (i.e. approximately 92% of electors). In addition, we only noted one major finding from a deviation related to a key control for special procedures (i.e. where those electors requiring special procedures make up approximately 8% of electors). Details of this finding are outlined in the section below.

4.2.2 Mandatory procedures not consistently administered for electors who require special procedures

Depending on the circumstances, special procedures may include validating that the elector is at the correct polling site and polling station, administering a verbal oath to the elector, administering an oral warning to the elector and their attestor, and/or administering written oaths/declarations to the elector and/or their attestor. These procedures are intended to reinforce the integrity of the electoral process by ensuring that ballots are only issued once to eligible electors.

Our findings for these by-elections are consistent with our findings reported in our reports on the 2015 general election and the 2016 by-election whereby errors were noted with the administration of special procedures. Elector interactions were observed where the Election Officials did not administer special procedures required under the particular circumstances. Election officials either did not administer special procedures at all or when special procedures were administered, they were in some instances wrong based on the circumstances. For example, in some cases a correction certificate would have been required but special procedures were not administered at all. In other cases, a certificate was initiated but it was the wrong one. The latter example indicates that an election official is aware that special procedures are required but lacks clarity on which form to administer under the circumstances.

The reporting thresholds are consistent with our report on the 2015 general election and our report on the 2016 by-election. It is important to note that the sample testing for these by-elections is proportionately lower when compared to the sample observed at the 2015 general election. Accordingly, the relatively smaller sample population has a significant impact on the calculation of the error rate, even more so when determining the deviation percentage relative to the administration of special procedures (8% of the sample for this by-election). The smaller sample population effectively results in a lower tolerance threshold and decreases the number of errors required to reach the reporting threshold.

4.3 Other observations

For key controls, a deviation of 2%4.9% was considered an Other Observation. For secondary controls, a deviation of 11% or more was considered an Other Observation.

4.3.1 ID accepted by Election Officials did not always meet EC's ID requirements

Election Officials are responsible for obtaining and reviewing an elector's identification and establishing that the elector is qualified to vote by performing a series of prescribed duties prior to providing a ballot and documenting that the elector has voted. The results of our testing indicate that there was a deviation in key controls related to ID. In some cases, the type of ID accepted by Election Officials did not meet EC's requirements. For example, a health card was accepted as sole proof of ID without obtaining another form of ID that proved the elector's address.

4.3.2 Verbal oaths were not administered consistently and certificates were not always documented completely

The administration of special procedures requires the initiation of a certificate based on the nature of the situation. The sections of the individual certificates require information pertinent to the situation and typically require the name and address of the elector and any other relevant information, the information related to the oath/declaration to be administered, a signature of the elector and attestor, as applicable, and the signature and date by the DRO.

Detailed testing results identified instances when sections of the certificates were not completed and oaths were not administered to the elector.

4.3.3 Election Officials do not consistently mark an elector as voted in a timely manner

Section 162 of the CEA stipulates that the PC must indicate that the elector has voted. This allows for effective reconciliation of the ballots. This is typically evidenced by a check mark in the box next to the name of the elector on the List of Electors or the record of votes cast at advance polls. If an elector is not on the List of Electors, the PC is required to tick the elector as having voted in the poll book (or on the record of votes cast at advance polls). The CEA prescribes that this duty must be performed as soon as the elector's ballot has been deposited in the ballot box. This duty is in addition to having to cross off the elector's name when the elector appears on the List of Electors.

Our audit identified instances, above our reporting threshold for a secondary control, where the PC did not mark the elector as having voted as soon as the elector's ballot was deposited in the ballot box. In some cases, the PC marked the elector as having voted at the time they presented the required ID but prior to the elector being issued a ballot; while in other circumstances, the PC checked off the elector as voted after the elector had left the polling site. In some cases, this activity was completed in batches, specifically at advance polls.

If electors are marked off as having voted prior to ballots being issued or well after an elector has left the polling site, the lack of real time monitoring results in the inability to confirm whether the elector did in fact cast their ballot. This may also cause difficulties for Election Officials when they reconcile the number of electors who voted to the number of ballots.

4.4 Assessment of administrative controls established by EC

The assessment of the administrative controls was based on results of our review of the training program materials and guidebooks, observation of the delivery of selected training sessions and interviews, and enquiries with election officials, including DROs, PCs, REGOs, training officers and recruitment officers. We focussed our assessment on changes to the overall design and delivery of the training program since the last by-election.

For these by-elections, approximately 3,250 resources were recruited and trained to work at advance and ordinary polls. This pool of resources includes a redundancy factor to allow flexibility for those who drop out in advance or do not show on the day of voting.

In order to equip the temporary workforce hired to successfully serve electors, a formal training program was in place and delivered to each election official in advance of taking on their responsibilities. Overall, feedback from training participants is similar to prior electoral events with respect to the content of the training programs, the format of how the training was delivered, the guidebook and the role of Central Poll Supervisor to support them with the performance of their duties. Our observations related to the training program, the training curriculum and tools and guidance provided to Election Officials are presented in the sections that follow.

4.4.1 Format of the training program

PwC reported on the format of the training program in our last report in relation to the 2016 by-election. Overall, the format of the training program for these by-elections was the same which included learning techniques appropriate for adult learners such as videos and practice sessions, a tailored training curriculum geared to the intended role at the polls, and incorporating CPSs as facilitators during the training sessions.

For these by-elections, training officers within each ED provided a series of training sessions leading up to the advance and ordinary poll days. Results of interviews with training officers confirmed the challenge with delivering a significant amount of technical information in a limited timeframe. This is consistent with our observations related to 2015 general election and the 2016 by-election.

Overall, EC's training program is comprehensive and is effective for providing prescriptive guidance and support to the temporary workforce that is hired to work at each by-election.

4.4.2 Training curriculum

PwC reported on the training curriculum (agenda) in our last report in relation to the 2016 by-election. After each electoral event, EC reviews the training curriculum to assess whether any modifications are required to further enhance the training curriculum. Overall, the curriculum for these by-elections was the same as the 2016 by-election.

While the agenda was the same, we noted minor modifications to the technical content to reinforce certain tasks and procedures for serving electors. We noted some improvements to the order of the slides that included adding slides to further emphasize the principles of elector eligibility (i.e. must live in polling division, prove who they are and where they live). These slides were included prior to the practice session which provided relevant technical content prior to participants having to serve mock electors using flash cards. Based on information obtained from EC, these measures were implemented by EC to emphasize special procedures.

Based on our observation of training sessions, we noted that certain changes were made to the delivery of the training presentation. In some instances, we noted that training officers changed the order of the slides and did not always present all slides on screen. In addition, in some instances, the practice session seemed condensed. While it is our understanding there is some flexibility for training officers to tailor the program depending on the audience, given the challenges that exist with administration of procedures when serving electors, it is recommended that training officers keep to the time frame suggested by EC.

Consistent with previous training programs, the training presentation includes examples of elector identification and EC's list of eligible identification. The ID examples are presented to the class to practice as group whether the ID is appropriate to prove an elector's name and address. This material is presented after the hands-on practice session. While ID requirements are emphasized during the hands-on practice session, should EC wish to incorporate further enhancements to the training program, technical content related to ID could be introduced to participants before the practice session to provide them with a foundation for assessing whether a certain type of ID is appropriate or not when practising mock scenarios using flash cards.

4.4.3 Tools and guidance

Consistent with the 2015 General Election and the 2016 by-election, participants were provided with guidebooks to use as a reference when serving electors. In addition, the role of central poll supervisor exists to provide support and guidance to Election Officials when serving electors. Based on the results of our enquiries with Election Officials and our observation at the polling sites, the guidebook and the role of the CPS continue to provide a comprehensive source of guidance to assist the REGOs, DROs and PCs in the performance of their duties and functions.

In summary, based on the results of our audit, we are not proposing any new recommendations to the training program, curriculum and other tools and guidance to support Election Officials. PwC issued two independent audit reports on the performance of the duties and functions of Election Officials in relation to the 2015 general election and the 2016 by-election. Readers may refer to those reports for a list of the recommendations stemming from the previous audits.