Report of the Chief Electoral Officer of Canada
on the 38th General Election Held on June 28, 2004
III. Analysis and Planning
"I run the only poll that matters."
Chief Electoral Officer of Canada
In response to a question dealing with public opinion polls
at his press conference on June 25, 2004
Elections Canada is committed to the continuing process of electoral reform that has helped earn Canada its reputation around the world as a model of electoral democracy.
A large amount of preparatory work is done before – sometimes years before – an election call. In addition to maintaining a constant state of readiness for all kinds of electoral events, we respond to legislative change and initiate new means to make the electoral process more accessible and transparent.
Some of the initiatives we are undertaking are required by statute. Others are in response to emerging issues and trends related to the electoral process.
Follow-up – and preparation
Unseen by the general public, the amount of follow-up work after election day is impressive. The end of one election cycle must overlap the readiness planning and implementation for the next event. The tasks that follow a general election include restocking material; paying suppliers; auditing candidate, political party and third party reports; investigating and possibly prosecuting offences under the Canada Elections Act; dealing with staff turnover, both in the field and in Ottawa; training new returning officers; and embarking on post-mortem analyses with a view to improving existing programs and developing new ones.
Elections Canada has taken part in research and evaluation surveys to measure public opinion on various election-related issues, to assist in evaluating and refining its programs and services to the electorate, and to develop the Chief Electoral Officer's recommendations to Parliament.
The results of these reports will provide valuable information on the successes and achievements of these new programs, as well as identifying areas for improvements, and may be useful in helping interested non-governmental organizations refine their educational tools for the next general election.
General survey of electors
Following a competitive tendering process, EKOS Research Associates was selected to conduct a survey to evaluate public opinions, attitudes and knowledge of Elections Canada's services and various aspects of the electoral process, including individuals' experience of the election.
The survey was carried out between June 29 and July 12, 2004, with a representative sample of 2,822 electors across Canada. In keeping with our research objectives, a representative over-sample of 660 Aboriginal respondents was surveyed. This was made up of both on- and off-reserve residents, with an emphasis on urban dwellers.
Analyses of the survey results to be conducted later in the fall of 2004 will focus on voter participation, and particularly on youth and Aboriginal participation.
2004 Canadian Election Study
Elections Canada contributed to the 2004 Canadian Election Study (CES), an essential academic study of Canadian elections. We have partnered with the CES since the 1997 general election. The CES conducts three successive surveys of a single group of respondents:
- campaign period survey: 30-minute telephone interviews with an initial sample of 4,325 Canadian electors, conducted throughout the campaign period (May 23 to June 28, 2004)
- post-election survey: 30-minute telephone interviews conducted in the weeks following election day with as many of the original respondents as possible
- mail-back questionnaire: a printed questionnaire sent to all those who responded to the post-election survey
Final results are expected during the fall of 2004 and will be added to the analyses of the general survey of electors.
Answer to question 6
All Canadians who are at least 18 years of age on election day have the right to vote in a general election, with one exception: the Chief Electoral Officer of Canada.
But this was not always the case. Throughout our history, Canadians have been denied the franchise for a variety of reasons, whether racial, religious or administrative.
In 1982, the adoption of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms provided new grounds for challenging the last restrictions to universal franchise. The right to vote became a constitutional right for all Canadian citizens, subject only to "such reasonable limits prescribed by law as can be demonstrably justified in a free and democratic society."
In 1988, citing the Charter's guarantee of the right to vote, a court ruling struck down sections of the Canada Elections Act that prevented judges from voting. The decision overturned a ban that had been in place since 1874. It allowed about 500 federally appointed judges to cast ballots in the 1988 election, and the Act was amended in 1993.
Legislative and administrative changes since the 1980s have led to greater access to voting for persons with disabilities, but it was not until 1993 that Parliament allowed persons with a mental disability to vote.
Prisoners had not been allowed to vote since 1898, but a decision of the Federal Court of Appeal allowed prisoners to vote in the 1992 federal referendum. In 1993, Parliament upheld disenfranchisement only for prisoners serving sentences of two years or more (those in federal institutions). In 2002, the Supreme Court of Canada decided that this last restriction was a breach of the Charter. All prisoners who otherwise met the criteria were eligible to vote for the first time in a general election in June 2004.
The official voting results
for the 38th general election
held on June 28, 2004, are available
on the Elections Canada Web site.