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.
|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|
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.
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.
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.
Voters lists – revision transactions
|Calendar||Revision transactions||Total||Cumulative totals|
|Election day||Official list||67,903|
1 Includes voters registered to vote under the Special Voting Rules (members of the Canadian Forces, incarcerated voters, voters temporarily residing outside Canada).
|Calendar||Revision transactions||Total||Cumulative totals|
|Election day||Official list||67,443|
1Includes voters registered to vote under the Special Voting Rules (members of the Canadian Forces, incarcerated voters, voters temporarily residing outside Canada).
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.
|Number of sites||Percentage||Number of sites||Percentage||Number of sites||Percentage|
|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|
|Royal Canadian Legion hall||6||5.13||2||3.03||8||4.37|
|Electoral district||Total number of polling stations||Accessible polling stations||Percentage|
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.
|Categories of voters asking to vote under the Special Voting Rules||Number of ballots requested|
|Members of the Canadian Forces||808||103|
|Voters temporarily residing outside Canada||36||21|
|Group 1 subtotal||847||125|
|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
2 The voters registered under group 2 of the Special Voting Rules are also entered on the revised voters list.
||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 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.
|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|
|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|
|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|
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.
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.