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An Electoral Framework for the 21st Century: Recommendations from the Chief Electoral Officer of Canada Following the 42nd General Election

Chapter 1—Modernizing Canada's Electoral Process

Overview

The essentials of the framework of the federal electoral process have been in place for well over a hundred years. Unsurprisingly, that framework mostly reflects the realities of a century ago. It is a paper-based and highly decentralized process, assuming teams of autonomous workers in remote communities functioning based on clear instructions, with little centralized oversight or guidance.

The basic framework is well known. The country is geographically divided into electoral districts. The RO for each electoral district is responsible for running the election in that district. The electoral districts are geographically divided into polling divisions. All electors living in a polling division vote at the polling station established for that polling division. The polling station is staffed by two election officers, the deputy returning officer (DRO) and the poll clerk, each of whom has clearly defined duties. The DRO is responsible for running the polling station.

The Act creates rules that are to be consistently applied. In some cases the Act is clear almost to a fault, prescribing processes and practices that are far more detailed than is commonly found in legislation. There are at least two explanations as to why this is. First, the highly contested nature of elections makes clear and consistent rules desirable. ROs were, until 2007, government appointees, and DROs and poll clerks have long been appointed on the basis of partisan recommendations. Reducing the discretion available to these officers was therefore important for ensuring public confidence in the integrity of elections.

The second explanation for a highly prescriptive approach is that the Act reflects the era in which it was first enacted. At that time, Canada was a much more rural country with vastly less communicative capacity than today. Elections were time limited and highly contested. If ROs or DROs were unsure about the application of a rule to a particular situation, they could not simply pick up the phone and ask someone at Elections Canada headquarters or in the RO office how to resolve the situation. They were on their own.

The current framework of the Act has served its purpose. The electoral process it outlines is understood and rarely contested in Canada. But its prescriptive nature is not without drawbacks. Efforts to modify the process to keep up with changing technology or expectations of electors and election workers are often stifled because of the prescriptiveness of the law.

The recent external audit by PricewaterhouseCoopers concluded that errors made by poll workers during the voting process could be minimized by streamlining existing processes, including through the use of technology. This report presents an opportunity to outline ways to reduce the prescriptiveness in the voting system and favour a results-based approach that allows for greater flexibility and responsiveness without sacrificing the integrity and certainty provided for in the Act.

The recommendations in this chapter are all related in some way to the electoral process. First, amendments are suggested to enable Elections Canada to introduce important improvements to voting operations. Second, changes are proposed to improve voter education, registration and identification, accessibility for electors with disabilities, voting other than on polling day and offences relating to voter fraud. Third, certain amendments are suggested to the length of the election period and the timing of polling day. Fourth, a series of amendments are recommended to the process for appointing election officers to permit timely hiring and training of key personnel. And finally, potential improvements to the nomination process for candidates are identified.

1.1 Voting Services Modernization

The voting process set out in the Act is highly prescriptive with respect to who performs what tasks and how those tasks are to be performed. As technology evolves, however, new ways of achieving the goals of the Act (including accessibility, integrity and secrecy) can be implemented. In some cases, the prescriptiveness of the current law acts as a barrier to solutions that could better achieve those goals. Furthermore, as expectations in the community change, it is important for Elections Canada to be able to adapt the processes and add technology to meet those evolving expectations while preserving essential controls.

To this end, Elections Canada intends to propose changes to voting operations that can be put in place at polling stations by the 43rd general election. These changes would increase the accessibility, convenience and efficiency of voting while preserving the safeguards that give Canadians confidence in the electoral process.

For example, electors currently voting in a central polling place must go to the specific table set up for their polling division. The new approach would involve a central polling place that gives electors more options and makes better use of election personnel. Electors could go to any table in a central polling place and, upon proving their name and address, present their voter information card (VIC) containing a bar code and have their name immediately marked electronically to indicate that they received a ballot. Electronic forms could be used for those electors seeking to register on polling day, and an electronic poll book could keep track of all exceptional procedures. These changes are in line with the recommendations of the recent external audit performed by PricewaterhouseCoopers as well as approaches being taken in various provinces and territories.Footnote 1

This new approach to the voting process would make record keeping easier and decrease reliance on paper documents and archaic manual processes at the polls. Polling place organization could be calibrated depending upon the polling place's size and location, with the work being distributed appropriately so election officers are better able to respond to the flow of electors throughout the day. Election officers could each specialize in only certain tasks and could be trained appropriately for those tasks without necessarily having to master the full range of polling day procedures prescribed in the Act (as is currently the case for the DRO). In addition to improving service to electors, these changes would help to reduce the errors made by election officers in executing polling day procedures, as noted in the recommendations made in the external audit report.

However, the Chief Electoral Officer cannot implement this new voting model unless certain amendments to the Act are made with respect to polling procedures. These include revisiting the link between the functions prescribed in the Act and the individuals to whom they are assigned. It is recommended that the Act instead allow ROs flexibility in assigning their personnel to complete the various tasks required, based on instructions from the Chief Electoral Officer.

An additional amendment is needed to permit electors to vote at a place other than the table assigned to their polling division, currently known as their polling station. Instead, it is recommended that the notion of polling station be expanded to encompass the entire space where voting takes place, which may or may not include several polling divisions. This would allow for different approaches to the organization of the polling place (or polling station, as redefined) to maximize efficiency while preserving integrity. If Parliament deems it necessary, the Act could continue to allow votes to be counted on the basis of polling divisions.

While straightforward in principle, these changes will require amendments to many existing provisions in the Act. These amendments are recommended not simply to replace one prescriptive voting model with another, but instead to allow flexibility while at the same time preserving essential safeguards. [Recommendations A1, A2, A3, A4]

1.2 Other Electoral Service Improvements

Voter education

In 2014, the mandate of the Chief Electoral Officer to conduct education and information programs was restricted to those aimed only at primary and secondary school students. This is an unusual restriction on an election administrator, considering the powers of other electoral management bodies, and it impedes the ability of Elections Canada to promote civic education. While civic education for youth is obviously important, it is not less important for electors who lack the basic knowledge about democracy. Research shows that knowledge built through education has a material impact on positive participation in the democratic process.

In addition to continuing to provide information to Canadians about where, when and ways to vote and become a candidate, it is recommended that the Chief Electoral Officer's previous public education and information mandate be restored. [Recommendation A5]

Registration of electors

The registration of electors prior to polling day used to be conducted via enumeration. At every election, teams of enumerators would go door-to-door to establish a list of eligible electors. In 1996, Parliament moved to establish a permanent voters list called the National Register of Electors (NROE). The NROE forms the core of the voters lists to be used during the election. It is maintained and updated from information provided through a variety of sources, including the provinces and territories; other federal departments; and electors, who provide information both on paper and, increasingly, online.

Elections Canada is constantly seeking to improve the coverage, currency and accuracy of the NROE. Better voters lists help all participants in the electoral process: electors will receive accurate information from Elections Canada; candidates will be able to contact electors; and Elections Canada and ROs will be able to invest less time and resources into manually registering electors during the election period and at the polls. Registering electors on polling day involves a complex procedure for poll workers that can result in administrative errors. Perhaps more importantly, an accurate list allows for better planning of the entire logistical operation of the election, including the size and location of polling divisions, their staffing and supplies, the location of polling places and other matters.

Registering new, young electors on the NROE promptly once they turn 18 is a continual challenge. Driver's licence information provided by the provinces and territories is helpful in this regard, but the information may not come from these sources in time for a general election and does not help with the registration of non-drivers.

Figure 1 below shows the challenge Elections Canada experiences in ensuring that youth aged 18 to 34 are registered. Data from the last general election shows that the gap between the estimated number of electors and the number of electors who were registered is highest for 18-year-olds and then gradually decreases. Beyond age 34, there is very little gap between the electoral population and coverage on the voters list. Despite Elections Canada's successful outreach during the election period to youth aged 18 to 34, this group remained under-represented on voters lists when compared to other age groups.

In this regard, Elections Canada would benefit greatly by being able to collect information about youth, for example those aged 16 and 17, so that they could be activated as electors on the NROE, with their consent, when they turn 18.

The authority to collect such information would allow Elections Canada to retain relevant information about these individuals from institutions already sharing information with Elections Canada. It would also permit the agency to conduct registration drives in schools or other institutions to encourage young people to register in advance and therefore be ready to vote as soon as they turn 18. Pre-registration of youth exists in several Canadian provinces, in a number of US states and in countries such as the United Kingdom, New Zealand, Portugal and France. It is time to implement it in Canada. [Recommendation A6]

Figure 1—Estimated Electoral Population and Registered Electors by Age

Estimated Electoral Population and Registered Electors by Age
Text version of "Estimated Electoral Population and Registered Electors by Age"

Another important recommendation to improve the accuracy of the information in the NROE is to grant authority to Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) to share citizenship data with Elections Canada.

Although there is no single repository of citizenship information in Canada, IRCC has information on non-citizens residing in the country that would help Elections Canada ensure that only citizens are included in the NROE. Internal studies have indicated that approximately 0.2 percent of individuals in the NROE are potentially not Canadian citizens. Having access to non-citizen data would allow Elections Canada to identify and remove these individuals from the NROE on an ongoing basis. Elections Canada could also compare it with data from other sources to confirm the accuracy of the entries in the NROE. [Recommendation A7]

Voter identification at the polls

Since 2007, electors have been required to prove their identity and address in order to vote. Currently, this can be done in one of three ways: by showing a piece of photo identification issued by a Canadian government that contains the elector's name and address; by showing two pieces of identification authorized by the Chief Electoral Officer, both of which show the elector's name and one of which shows the elector's address; or by showing two authorized pieces of identification with the elector's name, and having an attestor who resides in the same polling division attest to the first elector's name and address.

Most electors have no difficulty meeting the requirement to prove name and address when they go to vote; the vast majority rely on their driver's licence. However, evidence shows that for a significant minority of electors, the proof of address requirement is difficult to meet and, in some cases, presents a significant barrier to voting. This is particularly true with Aboriginal electors, youth, homeless electors and seniors living in long-term care facilities.

It was for this reason that the Chief Electoral Officer had previously authorized the use of the VIC by some of these electors as proof of address, in conjunction with another document proving identity, in several pilot projects in 2010 and 2011. Results were positive, demonstrating that use of the VIC as proof of address, together with another document proving identity, can be helpful to those electors who otherwise may have difficulty meeting the Act's requirements. It is therefore recommended that the prohibition on authorizing the VIC as a piece of identification to establish address be removed from the Act. [Recommendation A8]

The VIC can only be used by those who receive it; however, this does not include electors whose names are not in the NROE. For electors not in the NROE, if they do not have a piece of identification showing their current address (for example, if they recently moved), they must show two pieces of identification proving their identity and have another elector attest to their address.

The current attestation process seems unduly onerous. It is unclear why electors with no proof of address should be required to prove their identity with two separate documents. It is recommended that only one piece of identification be required in the case where an elector needs someone else to attest to his or her address.

In addition, the law places restrictions on the attestors. They must live in the same polling division as the attested elector and may only attest to the residence of one other person. The latter requirement means that a person cannot attest to the addresses of multiple family members who live at the same location, and the former adds an additional burden in the case of long-term care administrators who want to attest to the residence of a senior living in the building where they work, but which is not in their polling division.Footnote 2

For these reasons, amendments are proposed to allow the Chief Electoral Officer to authorize multiple attestation in certain specific and limited situations, similar to his current statutory ability to authorize types of identification. Situations where multiple attestation might be authorized include attesting for more than one person in the attestor's family, or attesting for individuals living in the same residence or by an individual providing services at that residence. To make attestation in some of these situations easier, it is also recommended that the attestors not have to reside in the same polling division as the elector for whom they are attesting. [Recommendation A9]

Electors with disabilities

Electors with disabilities are a growing percentage of the voting population and face particular hurdles when seeking to cast their vote. Elections Canada has invested significant effort in recent years to improve access for these electors, working closely with its Advisory Group for Disability Issues. Various tools and procedures are available at the polls to help electors with disabilities cast their vote in secret and as independently as possible.

But more can still be done. Currently the provisions allowing assistance at the polls are restricted to persons with physical disabilities and those who cannot read; assistance should be available to anyone who identifies as having a disability that might limit their ability to vote independently. In addition, the same assistance given to those who vote at the polls should be available to those who vote by special ballot in an RO office. [Recommendation A10] Transfer certificates, which can be used by electors with disabilities to permit them to vote at a polling station other than their own, should be more easily available. [Recommendation A11]

Voting at home is currently an option only for those who cannot leave their homes and also cannot mark a ballot as a result of a disability. It is recommended that this option be broadened to permit its use in the case of an elector with a disability who can leave home but whose polling location is not accessible. [Recommendation A12] In addition, "curbside voting" is suggested for those electors who, for reasons of disability, are unable to enter their polling place; an amendment should permit election officers to administer the voting process outside the polling place in certain defined circumstances, in the presence of candidates' representatives and with other attendant safeguards. [Recommendation A13]

As well, times have changed since the requirement of level access for polling places was included in the Act in 1992. In the 42nd general election, Elections Canada implemented a much broader set of criteria for the accessibility of polling places. This meant that a polling place that did not meet the 15 mandatory criteria for accessibility required approval from the Chief Electoral Officer before it could be used. It is recommended that the requirement for polling stations to be located where there is level access be amended to reflect this more comprehensive approach to physical accessibility of polling places, which is already in place. Polling places should be required in the Act to be accessible. This is a more modern notion than simply relying on level access, and it is time to bring the Act in line with Elections Canada's existing practices. [Recommendation A14]

Finally, many Canadians with disabilities use equipment and technology to address various barriers they face in participating in society. Whether such equipment and technology is suitable already, or could be made suitable, for voting purposes can be assessed through a pilot project conducted by Elections Canada. Certain restrictions exist in the Act on the parliamentary approvals required, however. Combined with the legislative prescriptiveness described earlier, the restrictions on conducting pilot projects send mixed signals at best about the introduction of technology in the voting process.

For many electors with disabilities, the use of technology is not a simple matter of convenience but one of respect, dignity and basic inclusiveness. This report consequently recommends increased flexibility for the Chief Electoral Officer in conducting pilot projects under the Act, and encourages Parliament to specifically require testing of technology in the voting process to benefit electors with disabilities. [Recommendation A15]

Voting other than on polling day: advance polls, special ballots

In the 42nd general election, almost one quarter of voters did not vote on polling day, but preferred to vote at advance polls (21 percent) or by special ballot (3 percent), either through the mail or at one of more than 400 local offices across the country. This is a growing trend over the last several general elections. It has also been observed in other democracies such as New Zealand, Australia and the United Kingdom, suggesting a common trend of electors seeking maximum convenience in voting.

Various legislative improvements can be brought to these alternative ways of voting to increase their efficiency and, in the case of special ballots, to make the process more coherent.

Advance polls

Opening advance polls at 9:00 a.m. rather than noon would align with electors' expectations that these polling stations operate on the same hours as the regular polls. Adopting this recommendation would, however, increase the cost of advance polls and the working hours of election officers. [Recommendation A16]

Streamlining advance poll processes would increase efficiency. Currently at least four separate controls are in place to identify electors voting at advance polls: they must provide satisfactory proof of their identity and address; their name is crossed off the voters list; their name and address is recorded; and they must sign the record of electors who have voted at the advance polls. Keeping three of these controls would be sufficient to ensure that a proper record is kept of those voting at advance polls and that integrity is maintained. In their external audit, PricewaterhouseCoopers specifically recommended streamlining procedures at advance polls for the benefit of electors.

Removing the signature requirement in particular will facilitate a faster process; this is especially true if technology is introduced in the future to maintain an electronic voters list at the polling station. A more efficient electronic process to locate the elector (for instance, by using a bar code on the VIC to find electors on the voters list and mark them as having voted) would help to reduce errors in crossing the wrong elector off the list. Even without an electronic list, eliminating the signature requirement would have a significant positive impact on the administration of advance polls, creating fewer delays and lineups. [Recommendation A17]

Another recommendation is to allow mobile polls, which currently may only be used on ordinary polling day and only at long-term care facilities, to be used for advance polls in certain low-density and isolated communities, where a full four-day advance polling period is not necessary and is difficult to staff. Rather than having one poll set up in a central location for the full four-day period, a mobile poll could travel the region, giving electors the opportunity to vote closer to home at a specific time during the advance polling period. ROs should be permitted to establish mobile advance polls of two or more locations in accordance with the instructions of the Chief Electoral Officer to better serve these communities. [Recommendation A18]

Special Voting Rules

The Special Voting Rules, which were enacted in their modern form in 1993, are found in Part 11 of the Act. These rules provide a method of voting for certain electors who may not be able to vote at the advance polls or on polling day, including electors with disabilities, electors temporarily residing outside Canada, electors away from home, members of the Canadian Forces and incarcerated electors. As well, any elector residing in Canada who is unable or does not wish to vote at the advance or ordinary polls may vote by special ballot.

The Special Voting Rules are intended to enfranchise electors, yet they do not always achieve this effectively due to their very prescriptive nature. Some of the provisions are simply unnecessary or unnecessarily complicated. The level of detail in the rules and the fact that, in many instances, they contemplate paper-based processes make it difficult for Elections Canada to take advantage of new technologies.

The recommendations in this report are intended to simplify and modernize the Special Voting Rules in order to enfranchise electors and, where possible, to move away from paper-based registration and record-keeping processes. Notably, it is recommended that electors who apply online for their special ballot be permitted to download an electronic copy of the ballot, which they could print, complete, insert in a double envelope and return to Elections Canada for counting. This would mean that these electors would not have to wait for a special ballot kit by mail, thereby increasing the likelihood that their ballots will reach Elections Canada on time to be counted.Footnote 3 Elections Canada is working on this initiative, but legislative change is required for its full implementation. [Recommendation A19]

Clarifying ballot offences

While the recommendations described above are designed to increase and simplify access to the vote, the importance of the integrity of the process can never be forgotten. As noted above, when making changes to voting procedures, it is important to retain the controls that ensure integrity in the outcome. In this respect, the current organization of the provisions relating to ballot secrecy and other voting prohibitions could be improved. It is recommended that these provisions be streamlined and grouped together, and any duplication removed. In addition, the Commissioner has suggested certain textual changes to enable more effective investigation and prosecution of offenders who vote while not qualified, and to ensure that a clear, enforceable prohibition exists on taking "ballot selfies." Preventing a person from photographing a marked ballot is an essential safeguard against bribery in the voting process. [Recommendation A20]

1.3 Election Timing

Fixed election period

In 2007, Parliament passed legislation that amended the Act to set a fixed date on which elections are to take place every four years. Review of the parliamentary debates reveals that one of the main objectives of fixing the date of the election was to improve transparency and fairness in the electoral process by eliminating the governing party's ability to use the timing of elections for partisan advantage. A fixed date was also expected to have significant administrative benefits, allowing Elections Canada and ROs to prepare effectively in anticipation of the election call.

The absence of a maximum period for the election, however, combined with the fact that spending limits for parties and candidates are prorated to the length of the campaign, can compromise the level playing field by favouring campaigns that have access to more resources.

The benefits of a fixed election date did not fully materialize with the 42nd general election because of the unusually long (78 days) election period. The mid-summer election call was a surprise to many electoral participants and may have been seen by some as giving an unfair advantage to the governing party at the outset. ROs faced additional staffing pressures and were deprived of the anticipated preparatory period.

Imposing a maximum limit on the election period (for example 45 or 50 days) in conjunction with
the fixed election date would create a greater measure of predictability for all electoral participants as the fixed date approaches and would better accomplish the goal of a fixed election date. [Recommendation A21]

Polling day

As has been the case for many years, polling day at the 42nd general election was on a Monday. Having polling day on a weekday has a number of consequences. Polls must be open before and after work to give people sufficient time to vote. This means that, for long periods of the day, the poll may be nearly empty and then there is a large rush at the end of the day, which, given the inflexibility of the present process, leads to problems for poll workers and frustration and delays for electors. Having polling day on a weekday also greatly reduces the number of qualified personnel available to operate polling stations.

Australia, New Zealand and a number of European countries have their polling day on a weekend, and Canada should consider a similar move. Weekend polling may make the vote more accessible for some Canadian electors—although it should be noted that Elections Canada's consultation with electors with disabilities underlined the importance of para-transportation services being available on a weekend polling day, were this change to be made.

Weekend voting would also increase the availability of qualified personnel to operate polling stations and of accessible buildings, such as schools and municipal offices, for use as polling places. While schools can present ideal locations for voting, concerns about student safety make it increasingly difficult for ROs to obtain access to schools for voting while students are on the premises. For all these reasons, Elections Canada believes that having polling day on a weekend would better serve Canadians. [Recommendation A22]

1.4 Hiring Election Workers

The success of the voting process is dependent in large part on the work of tens of thousands of Canadians who work on polling day and in the days and weeks leading up to polling day. These workers provide the fundamental services that allow the election to take place. Those who work on polling day must work very long hours (14 hours or more), with few or no breaks. The dedication of these hard-working Canadians allows our electoral process to function as smoothly as it does.

The conduct of the 42nd general election required a total of 285,000 election workers. Increasingly, finding sufficient, qualified staff to perform all the required duties is difficult for ROs. There are several reasons for this. Polling day is during the week (as are two of the advance poll days), so the pool of available workers does not include those who are unavailable on weekdays. Furthermore, as noted, the hours are long and the work is difficult and complex. Because of these factors, after working as an election officer at one election, people often choose not to work at a subsequent election.

ROs are also restricted by the terms of the Act as to whom they may hire. Many positions (DROs, poll clerks, registration officers and revising agents) may only be staffed once candidates or parties have recommended individuals to fill them, but candidates and parties are recommending increasingly fewer people to staff these positions. Furthermore, many positions are restricted to those who are 18 years of age and live in the electoral district, unless authorized by the Chief Electoral Officer.

The recent experience of Elections Canada is that, where exceptions have been made to hire youth aged 16 and 17, these youth have proven to be highly effective and dedicated workers. Furthermore, while elections do have a local character and it is helpful for election workers to know their community, this is not as important as it once was and is certainly not essential for some positions. It makes little sense to prevent an RO from hiring a desperately needed, qualified person just because he or she happens to live on the other side of an electoral district boundary.

Recommendations are therefore included in this report to permit the hiring of election workers
from outside the electoral district and the appointment of persons under 18 years of age. [Recommendations A23, A24] More significantly, it is recommended that provisions in the Act requiring election positions to be staffed first by partisan nominees be eliminated. [Recommendation A25] There should be nothing to prevent parties from continuing to recommend people as election officers, but the delay created for ROs in having to wait for these nominations prior to doing any other hiring is an undue restriction on their ability to staff effectively. Being able to hire earlier in the electoral calendar would also help in the planning and delivery of training for election personnel.

The recommendations in this section should be considered in conjunction with Recommendation A1, discussed in section 1.1 above. Many of the recommendations complement the proposal to make the appointment of and the assignment of duties to election officers more flexible. Increasing flexibility in the assignment of duties to election officers would also improve working conditions by allowing for regular breaks and potentially limiting the number of consecutive hours of work for any one election officer.

1.5 Candidates

Candidate nomination process

Under the Act, nominations of candidates must be confirmed by the RO. The nomination paper contains a number of elements, including the signature of a witness to the candidate's consent to candidacy and the signatures of 100 (or in some cases 50) electors. The candidate is not allowed to file his or her own nomination paper; rather, it must be filed by the witness.

Many aspects of the existing nomination process reflect a view of candidacy that is out of step with modern approaches. The requirement for a witness to file the document suggests that the candidate is only reluctantly accepting the nomination. Moreover, the obligation to obtain signatures from electors acts as a barrier to people exercising their constitutionally guaranteed right to be a candidate. The requirement to meet these formal conditions also imposes an out-of-proportion burden on ROs and their staff at a time when they should be focused on completing the myriad of other key tasks involved in organizing an election.

The benefit of requiring prospective candidates to collect 100 signatures is marginal at best. The signatures do not represent support for the candidate. All that is required to sign the nomination paper is that the person reside in the candidate's electoral district. In fact, candidates can obtain signatures by going to public locations such as malls or community centres, and the signatures obtained do not necessarily equate to votes at the polls. As well, verifying the names and addresses of 100 electors to confirm that they reside in the electoral district is a time-consuming task for ROs and delays the confirmation of the candidate's nomination.

The requirement that the person must file the nomination paper in person at the RO office is a further barrier to candidacy. Parliament has recognized in the past that this is problematic and, in 1993, put in place an electronic filing process. The idea was to deal with situations in large electoral districts where it was difficult for a witness to physically get to the RO office. However, at the time, "electronic" filing meant filing by fax, and the statutory provision is written based on this assumption; it does not reflect the idea of electronic filing as it is understood in 2016.

The current fax process also creates inconsistencies in the law. When filing in person, the witness must sign a declaration in front of the RO; however, there is no such requirement for a person who files by fax. This leads to the absurd reality that if the wrong person shows up to file the nomination paper at the RO office, he or she may solve the problem by walking next door to a place with a fax machine and sending the paper by fax.

To remove unnecessary barriers to candidacy and lighten the administrative burden both on campaigns and election workers, Elections Canada is now working on the creation of a new electronic portal on its website that would allow candidates to file their nomination papers online. The aim is to make the candidate nomination process easier, both for the candidates and the ROs, and to make electronic filing the primary method for filing nomination papers.

In order to maximize the potential of this initiative and remove the archaic and unnecessary barriers to candidacy described above, it is time to modernize and simplify the candidate nomination process more generally. [Recommendation A26]

Candidate identification

One further recommendation related to candidacy is a new requirement for candidates to show identification to establish that they are the person who they claim to be. Although electors have been required since 2007 to show identification, no similar obligation has been placed on candidates. In recent elections, candidates have been listed on the ballot under a name that is not their own. The current provisions dealing with nicknames do not offer clear guidance to prospective candidates or ROs as to what names should be allowed. It is therefore proposed that prospective candidates be required to provide proof of identity with their nomination paper, as prescribed by the Chief Electoral Officer. [Recommendation A27]


Footnote 1 Report of the external audit conducted pursuant to section 164.1 of the Act by PricewaterhouseCoopers. The report, entitled Elections Canada: Independent Audit Report on the Performance of the Duties and Functions of Election Officials – 42nd General Election (2016), is included as Appendix 2 in the Chief Electoral Officer's retrospective report published earlier this month. See also Proposal for a Technology-Enabled Staffing Model for Ontario Provincial Elections: Post-Event Report: Whitby–Oshawa By-Election (Elections Ontario, 2016) and Report of the Chief Electoral Officer on the May 5, 2015 Provincial General Election,"Section 4: Recommendations" (Elections Alberta, 2016).

Footnote 2 An example of this was seen in the contested election considered by the Supreme Court of Canada in Opitz v. Wrzesnewskyj, 2012 SCC 55. Several of the votes that were questioned were cast by residents of a long-term care facility, all of whose addresses were attested to by an employee of that facility.

Footnote 3 In the 42nd general election, 6.5 percent of special ballots (3,229) were returned after the deadline and were therefore not counted. In the 41st general election, the proportion of ballots not returned in time to be counted was 7.8 percent (1,825).