Report of the Chief Electoral Officer of Canada on the 37th General Election Held on November 27, 2000
The Canadian electoral system has evolved over the years into one that is accessible, transparent, up-to-date and efficient. Elections Canada is committed to the continuing process of electoral reform that has earned Canada its reputation around the world as a model of electoral democracy. Our aim is to be the most modern and innovative electoral agency in the world.
This report began with an affirmation of Elections Canada's commitment to helping Canadians exercise their democratic right to vote. Conducting fair and efficient elections is our main raison d'être, but for us, and all Canadians, it is also something more. It is a public demonstration of the current state of our ability to make voting as accessible as possible, by reaching out to all electors and by putting technology at the service of democracy.
Now that immediate post-election tasks are largely finished, and while we continue to make sure that we are ready for any kind of electoral event, we are engaged in a thorough and wide-ranging examination of all our systems and services, our approaches and procedures, our policies and guiding principles. We want to identify what we did right during the election, and analyze everything that did not meet the high expectations of electors. This brief conclusion to our report presents an overview of some of the steps we are taking now, and will take in the near future, to measure and improve our performance.
We are collecting qualitative and quantitative information from a comprehensive array of stakeholders. This includes feedback from the Advisory Committee of Political Parties, which meets three or four times a year (most recently on February 9, 2001), and information from the academic community and other participants in the electoral process.
An essential source of performance information is a set of in-house evaluations by the staff of each of Elections Canada's directorates. They are examining every service that they provided during the election, looking for weaknesses, as well as demonstrated strengths. These evaluations will be completed by the end of April 2001.
A further vital source of data for evaluating our performance is the experience of returning officers, assistant returning officers and their office staff. After each election or referendum, we conduct a post-mortem to identify any difficulties that they may have faced during the event, and to develop possible solutions to those problems, including recommendations for amendments to the Canada Elections Act. From March 8 to 16, 2001, we held three-day workshops and focus group sessions with a representative sample of 32 returning officers and eight assistant returning officers; two-day meetings with 15 automation coordinators; and one-day sessions with 10 special ballot coordinators, 12 liaison officers and 10 revision supervisors. Their suggestions and recommendations will help Elections Canada's managers to develop programs and projects focused on both the needs of electors and operational requirements in the field.
Until we analyze performance information, it is too soon to describe in detail what we will do to improve our performance as the national electoral agency. We are, however, considering the following for the National Register of Electors:
- improving the Register's coverage, especially of youth, by adding electors from administrative data sources, such as the Canada Customs and Revenue Agency
- improving the currency of the preliminary lists produced from the Register by refining the update cycle
- further improving the quality of voters lists and addresses by using other sources, including Canada Post
- introducing regular reviews of the Register by returning officers, particularly of geographic information and addresses
- enhancing the REVISE system used in the field during elections to incorporate the ability to record elector moves between ridings
- simplifying and improving revision and targeted revision
- studying the feasibility of secure on-line registration and verification
- continuing to work with provincial electoral agencies to share Register data
We will discuss these and other issues with our major stakeholders and partners over the next few months, prior to making the improvements.
Section 535 of the Act calls for the Chief Electoral Officer to make a report to the Speaker of the House of Commons, setting out any amendments that, in his opinion, are desirable for the better administration of the Act.
This general election of November 27, 2000 – the first to be held under the new Canada Elections Act – has raised enough matters of substance to warrant a separate report itemizing the Chief Electoral Officer's recommendations, including legislative changes.
So that the recommendations can fully reflect all elements of our comprehensive evaluation currently underway, this report will be published later this year. Recommendations already made by the Chief Electoral Officer in 1996 and 1997 and not yet implemented will be put forward again in this document, building on the experience of the 2000 general election.