Report of the Chief Electoral Officer of Canada on the 37th General Election Held on November 27, 2000
Ten days before election day, on Friday, November 17, 3 023 advance polling stations opened across Canada. The advance polls continued on Saturday and Monday, November 18 and 20. Designed for electors who planned to travel on election day, or anyone who wished to vote early, they remained open from noon to 8:00 p.m. local time each day. The revised voters lists were printed by returning officers on Thursday night for the opening of the advance polls the next morning; anyone whose name was not on the revised lists of 20 155 152 electors could register with the deputy returning officer at the advance polling station, and 63 441 electors did so.
On November 17, we ran a special blitz of radio ads. Our concentrated advertising in newspapers and on television and radio, coupled with the householder pamphlet and the advance poll notice on the voter information card (which was planned to arrive by November 13), seemed to have had a positive effect. The 775 157 people who cast a valid vote at the advance polls amounted to some nine percent more than the 704 000 who did so in the 1997 general election. The names of voters at the advance polls were struck out on the voters lists to show that they had already voted, and could not vote again on election day.
An elector whose name was on a preliminary voters list could formally object to the returning officer about the inclusion of another person on that list, so long as the affidavit of objection was made no later than November 13. The deadline was set before the advance polls to give the returning officer time to examine the objection. The returning officer had to make a decision in time for it to take effect on the revised voters list.
During the election, 519 objections were filed in the riding of Sherbrooke, Quebec. The returning officer sent a notice to the 519 electors on the preliminary lists, advising each to appear personally or by representative in the local office, or to submit proof of qualification to vote either by mail or by fax. As a result of the objections process, the returning officer removed the names of 119 people from the voters lists, all of whom had moved from the riding.
Stolen ballots recovered
In the riding of Victoria, British Columbia, after the second day of the advance polls, a deputy returning officer's car, containing a ballot box with 140 marked ballots inside, was stolen. Police issued a Vancouver Island-wide alert. In the meantime, the returning officer's staff telephoned all 140 people who had voted, to offer them the chance to vote again – this time by special ballot. The idea was that if the box was recovered with the ballots intact before election night, these special ballots could be set aside during the verification of the outer envelopes.
Some of the voters had taken the opportunity to vote a second time by special ballot, when the stolen car was spotted some 24 hours after the theft by a diligent security guard at a Victoria shopping mall. Victoria police recovered the car, with the missing ballot box. The seals on the box had not been tampered with, and the candidates agreed to allow the ballots inside to stand. Consequently, the special ballots already cast were, in fact, set aside and not counted after the polls closed on election night.
When the advance polling stations opened, the only people, other than voters and election officers, who were allowed to be present were candidates or their representatives there to observe the voting. Only two representatives for each candidate could be present at any given time, and they could not impede the voting or use a communication device of any kind. Candidates and their representatives could observe the sealing of the empty ballot box at the start of each day's voting, the voting process, the unsealing of the box at the close of polls each day (when the day's completed ballots, the rejected ballots, and the unused ballots and record of votes cast were sealed in three separate envelopes and put back in the box), and the resealing of the ballot box. The advance poll votes were counted on election night, also in the presence of candidates and their representatives.