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Report of the Chief Electoral Officer of Canada Following the September 11, 2000 By-elections held in Kings–Hants and Okanagan–Coquihalla


The by-elections in Kings–Hants and Okanagan–Coquihalla

On July 19, 2000, Jim Hart, Canadian Reform Conservative Alliance Member of Parliament for Okanagan–Coquihalla, resigned his seat in the House of Commons.

On July 24, Scott A. Brison, Progressive Conservative Party of Canada Member of Parliament for Kings–Hants, resigned his seat in the House of Commons.

On August 5, the Governor in Council announced that by-elections to fill the vacancies in the two electoral districts would be held on September 11. Following this announcement, the Chief Electoral Officer issued writs to the returning officers of the two electoral districts, directing them to conduct the by-elections. Table 1 is an overview of the important milestones during the period from the issue of the writs to their return.

Table 1

Key dates for the September 11, 2000, by-elections in Kings–Hants and Okanagan–Coquihalla
Date Election calendar day Event
August 5 Day 37 Issue of the writs; preparations made to open the offices of the returning officers
August 5 to 12 Days 37 to 30 (midnight) Advertising blackout period for political parties
August 8 Day 34 Proclamation published in Okanagan–Coquihalla; candidates may file nominations
August 9 Day 33 Revision of voters lists begins
August 9 Day 33 Proclamation published in Kings–Hants; candidates may file nominations
August 14 Day 28 Targeted revision begins
August 16, 17 and 18 Days 26, 25 and 24 Notices of Confirmation of Registration mailed to all registered voters
August 21 Day 21 (2:00 p.m.) Nominations of candidates close
August 31 Day 11 Revised voters lists distributed
September 1, 2 and 4 Days 10, 9 and 7 Advance polls
September 5 Day 6 (6:00 p.m.) Revision and special ballot registration end
September 8 Day 3 Official voters lists distributed
September 10 and 11 Days 1 and 0 Advertising blackout period for political parties
September 11 Day 0 Election day
September 12 Day -1 Official additions
September 19 Day -8 Writs returned

Communicating with voters

In May, the agency published a brochure for Canadian Forces voters, explaining how to amend the Statement of Ordinary Residence that determines the electoral district for each voter in the Forces. The brochure was mailed to all members of the Forces, and the Canadian Forces newsletter Maple Leaf published an article on the subject on June 28, 2000. The article also appears on the Internet sites of Elections Canada and of the Judge Advocate General of the Department of National Defence.

After the writs were issued for the by-elections, Elections Canada mailed a general information booklet to each household in the electoral districts. It provided details on voting options, dates and locations. To make voters aware of important information and dates, such as advance polls and voting day, the agency purchased advertising in local and regional newspapers and radio stations.

As a pilot project for both by-elections, Elections Canada introduced a new reminder card to tell voters that they should already have received their notices of Confirmation of Registration. The follow-up reminder card advised them to call their local Elections Canada office if they did not receive a notice of Confirmation of Registration, if they received someone else's notice, or if the notice had errors in the name or address or the information was incomplete. An evaluation of the card's effect is still underway; if it proves positive, the reminder card could be used for future elections.

Two weeks before polling day, a special news release pointed out that election results from Kings–Hants could not be published in Okanagan–Coquihalla before the polls closed there at 7:00 p.m. The ban included publishing results on the Internet, a prohibition that attracted considerable media attention.

Communicating with candidates, official agents and auditors

To help candidates, official agents and auditors understand and comply with the financing provisions of the Canada Elections Act, Elections Canada presented seminars in Kings–Hants and Okanagan–Coquihalla on August 18, 2000. Agency officials gave instructions on how to complete the Candidate's Return Respecting Election Expenses, and demonstrated the Electronic Candidate's Return.

Revising the voters lists

For the ninth time since its creation in 1997, data from the National Register of Electors were used to produce the preliminary voters lists for the by-elections. The returning officers for both electoral districts reported a total of 7 012 additions, 3 458 moves within the electoral districts, 3 339 removals and 3 392 corrections recorded during the event on the preliminary voters lists, including persons voting under the Special Voting Rules who were added to the lists. This represents 12.4 percent of the 138 293 voters on the preliminary lists.

Of the 17 201 revisions performed during the event, including voters using the Special Voting Rules, 10 621 took place during the actual revision period from August 9 to September 5. An additional 6 580 revisions were performed as a result of registrations at the polls on election day. Table 2 shows the details of the revision transactions.

Table 2
Voters lists – revision transactions

Kings–Hants
Calendar Revision transactions Total Cumulative totals
Day 33
to
Day 11
Preliminary list   66,243  
Additions 1,633    
Corrections 563    
Removals 347    
Moves 1,245    
Total 3,788    
Day 10
to
Day 6
Revised list   67,529  
Additions 429   2,062
Corrections 148   711
Removals 55   402
Moves 192   1,437
Total 824   4,612
Election day Official list   67,903  
Additions 1,505   3,567
Corrections 571   1,282
Removals 45   447
Moves 415   1,852
Total 2,536   7,148
Final list   69,363  

1 Includes voters registered to vote under the Special Voting Rules (members of the Canadian Forces, incarcerated voters, voters temporarily residing outside Canada).

Okanagan–Coquihalla
Calendar Revision transactions Total Cumulative totals
Day 33
to
Day 11
Preliminary list   68,377  
Additions 1,140    
Corrections 639    
Removals 1,706    
Moves 840    
Total 4,325    
Day 10
to
Day 6
Revised list   67,811  
Additions 541   1,681
Corrections 116   755
Removals 909   2,615
Moves 118   958
Total 1,684   6,009
Election day Official list   67,443  
Additions 1,764   3,445
Corrections 1,355   2,110
Removals 277   2,892
Moves 648   1,606
Total 4,044   10,053
Final list   68,930  

1Includes voters registered to vote under the Special Voting Rules (members of the Canadian Forces, incarcerated voters, voters temporarily residing outside Canada).

Voting in the by-elections

Voter turnout

In total, 55 151 of the 138 221 eligible voters cast their ballots in the two by-elections. For those unable to vote on election day, advance polls were held on September 1, 2 and 4. Most people voted on election day, September 11, at one of the 426 polling stations located throughout the electoral districts. All polling stations in Kings–Hants were open for 12 hours from 8:30 a.m. to 8:30 p.m., local time. The polling stations in Okanagan–Coquihalla were also open for 12 hours, from 7:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m., local time.

Each of the 183 polling stations provided level access. Table 3 shows the details of polling station locations and accessibility.

Voter turnout was 39.5 percent in Kings–Hants and 40.3 percent in Okanagan–Coquihalla. At the 1997 general election, the voter turnout was 65.7 percent in Kings–Hants and 65.1 percent in Okanagan–Coquihalla.

Table 3
Polling sites

Location of polling sites
Building types Kings–Hants
Okanagan–Coquihalla Total
Number of sites Percentage Number of sites Percentage Number of sites Percentage
Band office 1 0.85 2 3.03 3 1.64
Church hall 9 7.69 4 6.06 13 7.10
Commercial site 4 3.42 2 3.03 6 3.28
Community centre 61 52.14 20 30.30 81 44.26
Educational 4 3.42 18 27.27 22 12.02
Federal building 1 0.85 0 0.00 1 0.55
Fire hall 16 13.68 1 1.52 17 9.29
Hospital 0 0.00 2 3.03 2 1.09
Hostel for the elderly 7 5.98 10 15.15 17 9.29
Municipal or township hall 1 0.85 0 0.00 1 0.55
Other 7 5.98 3 4.55 10 5.46
Recreation centre 0 0.00 2 3.03 2 1.09
Royal Canadian Legion hall 6 5.13 2 3.03 8 4.37
Total 117 100% 66 100% 183 100%


Types of polling stations
Electoral district Ordinary Mobile Advance Total
Kings–Hants
214 2 13 229
Okanagan–Coquihalla 209 5 13 227


Polling station accessibility
Electoral district Total number of polling stations Accessible polling stations Percentage
Kings–Hants 229 229 100%
Okanagan–Coquihalla 227 227 100%

As is always the case during elections or by-elections, residents of the electoral districts who did not wish to vote at the advance or ordinary polls, and residents travelling or temporarily residing outside Canada, could vote by mail-in ballot under the Special Voting Rules. Canadians abroad could obtain information about how to cast their ballots from the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade, through its diplomatic missions and consular posts. Members of the Canadian Forces, whether based in Canada or elsewhere, were informed of their right to vote by the Department of National Defence.

Table 4 shows the number of registrations for voting by special ballot in each electoral district. The three lists of voters registered under group 1 of the Special Voting Rules are separate from the lists that are revised during an event. The voters registered under group 2 of the Special Voting Rules are also entered on the revised voters lists.

Table 4

Registrations under the Special Voting Rules
Categories of voters asking to vote under the Special Voting Rules Number of ballots requested
Kings–Hants Okanagan–Coquihalla
Group 11
Members of the Canadian Forces 808 103
Incarcerated electors 3 1
Voters temporarily residing outside Canada 36 21
Group 1 subtotal 847 125
Group 22
Voters temporarily outside their electoral district 7 5
Voters voting in their electoral district 277 319
Group 2 subtotal 284 324
Total number of registrations for voting by special ballot 1,131 449

1 The three lists of voters registered under group 1 of the Special Voting Rules are separate from the list that is revised during an event.
2 The voters registered under group 2 of the Special Voting Rules are also entered on the revised voters list.

Table 5

Preliminary statistics on the number of ballots cast and voter turnout
Electoral
district
Number of
electors on
final lists
Ordinary
polls
Advance
polls
Special
Voting
Rules
Total
votes
cast
Rejected
ballots
Total
valid
votes
Voter
turnout
%
Kings–Hants
69 319 25 683 1 352 373 27 408 232 27 176 39.5
Okanagan–Coquihalla 68 902 24 680 2 710 353 27 743 124 27 619 40.3

The candidates and by-election results

The deadline for nominating candidates was 2:00 p.m. on August 21, 2000. The deadline for withdrawal or for making corrections to information on candidates' nomination papers was 5:00 p.m. that same day.

Of the 10 registered federal political parties, three chose to nominate candidates in the Kings–Hants by-election: the Canadian Reform Conservative Alliance, the New Democratic Party and the Progressive Conservative Party of Canada. There was one independent candidate, and one with no political affiliation.

In the Okanagan–Coquihalla by-election, four registered parties nominated candidates: the Canadian Action Party, the Canadian Reform Conservative Alliance, the New Democratic Party, and The Green Party of Canada. There were four independent candidates.

Once nominations closed, the lists of official candidates were transmitted to Canadian diplomatic missions and consular posts by the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade, and to Canadian Forces bases by the Department of National Defence. The lists were also posted on the Elections Canada Web site.

On election night, the Event Results System used in both electoral districts was linked to Elections Canada's central computer. As votes were counted, the numbers were transmitted to the server in Ottawa for posting on the Web site.

The Rt. Hon. Joe Clark (leader of the Progressive Conservative Party of Canada) was elected in Kings–Hants, and Stockwell Day (leader of the Canadian Reform Conservative Alliance) was elected in Okanagan–Coquihalla.

Table 6

Preliminary statistics on valid votes obtained, by candidate: Kings–Hants
Candidate Political Affiliation Valid votes obtained Percentage
Joe Clark Progressive Conservative Party of Canada 14,525 53.44
Gerry Fulton Canadian Reform Conservative Alliance 4,385 16.13
Kaye Johnson New Democratic Party 7,375 27.13
Alex Neron No Affiliation 670 2.46
John C. Turmel Independent 221 0.81
Total   27,176 99.97


Preliminary statistics on valid votes obtained, by candidate: Okanagan–Coquihalla
Candidate Political Affiliation Valid votes obtained Percentage
Dennis Earl Baker Independent 223 0.80
Stockwell Day Canadian Reform Conservative Alliance 19,417 70.30
Ken Ellis New Democratic Party 3,470 12.56
Rad Gajic Independent 108 0.39
Jack William Peach Canadian Action Party 1,159 4.19
Joan Russow The Green Party of Canada 2,115 7.65
M. Boris St-Maurice Independent 438 1.58
Jim Strauss Independent 689 2.49
Total   27,619 99.96

Special permission

The week before election day, the Chief Electoral Officer made a ruling under subsection 9(1) of the Canada Elections Act, which allows him to adapt provisions of the Act in keeping with the intent of the legislation. In both electoral districts, the issue concerned subsection 126(4), which permits transfer certificates for deputy returning officers and poll clerks working at polling stations other than the one at which they may vote, if they are appointed after the advance polls. The Chief Electoral Officer extended this provision to central poll supervisors, information officers, registration officers and persons responsible for maintaining order. These officials would otherwise have been deprived of their right to vote, because they may not leave the polling stations where they work.

Commissioner's report

The Commissioner of Canada Elections, Raymond A. Landry, C.M., ensures that the Canada Elections Act is complied with and enforced. Since the last report, the Commissioner has received one further complaint alleging that an infraction of the Canada Elections Act had been committed during the by-elections of November 15, 1999, and has closed the file.

One complaint alleging that an infraction of the Canada Elections Act had been committed was brought to the Commissioner's attention after the May 15 by-election in St. John's West. The Commissioner has closed the file on the complaint, which concerned election advertising.

Three complaints alleging infractions of the Canada Elections Act were brought to the Commissioner's attention during the September 11 by-elections in Kings–Hants and Okanagan–Coquihalla. The complaints concerned advertising and the obligations of election officers, and are under review.

The Commissioner may open an investigation or institute a prosecution on his own initiative, or if he receives a written complaint alleging that an infraction has been committed within six months of the infraction. Prosecutions must be instituted within 18 months of the infraction. These deadlines have not yet expired for the by-elections held in Kings–Hants and Okanagan–Coquihalla.