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Report of the Chief Electoral Officer of Canada on the 39th General Election of January 23, 2006


Appendix VIII – Adaptations to the Canada Elections Act, 39th General Election, 2006

Statutory Provision Adapted Explanatory Notes

Section 95

Purpose: Allowed voter information cards to be sent to the most recent addresses of electors, based on updates to the preliminary lists of electors up to the time the cards were sent for printing.

Explanation: Improvements in technology resulting in faster data processing made it possible to update the preliminary lists of electors before the voter information cards were issued. The adaptation ensured that those updates were taken into account in addressing the cards.

Section 64

Purpose: Removed the statutory requirement that the notice of grant of poll set out the addresses of the candidates and their official agents.

Explanation: Section 64 requires a returning officer to include the address of each candidate and that candidate's official agent in the notice of grant of poll, which is a public document. The public disclosure of this information was considered inappropriate in a time of heightened concern for the security of public individuals.

Section 168

Purpose: Allowed returning officers, with the permission of the Chief Electoral Officer, to regroup polling divisions that made up an advance polling district.

Explanation: Section 168 provides for the establishment of advance polling districts containing a number of polling divisions, but does not provide for alteration to those districts once created (other than for combining two advance polling districts). It was determined in seven electoral districts that access to the advance polling stations in the established advance polling districts was difficult or impracticable due to long distances to travel over damaged or closed roads in winter.

Section 122

Purpose: Allowed returning officers who could not locate suitable premises for a polling station within a polling division to establish a polling station for that division in an adjacent electoral district. The prior approval of the Chief Electoral Officer was required.

Explanation: Section 122 permits a returning officer who is unable to locate suitable premises for a polling station within a polling division to locate the polling station in an adjacent polling division within the same electoral district. However, in two electoral districts, Lanark–Frontenac–Lennox and Addington (Ont.) and Fundy Royal (N.B.), suitable premises could not be found within an adjacent polling division in the same district, but could be found within an adjacent electoral district.

Section 93

Purpose: Allowed registered parties to receive, on request, electronic copies of the preliminary lists of electors at the beginning of the election for electoral districts in which the party endorsed a candidate.

Explanation: The Act only provides for the provision of preliminary lists of electors to candidates at the beginning of the election. There had been over 800,000 significant changes made to the lists since the parties last received the annual lists in October 2005. The adaptation ensured uniformity between the lists of electors in the possession of candidates and registered parties at the beginning of the election.

Sections 32, 39, 168, 169

Purpose: Allowed returning officers to appoint additional poll officials at advance polls where high turnouts were anticipated.

Explanation: The Act does not provide for the appointment of additional deputy returning officers, poll clerks, registration officers, and central poll supervisors for advance polls. The uncertainty of weather conditions in winter made it likely that increased numbers of electors would avail themselves of the right to vote at advance polls, thereby creating a need for additional officials at those polls.

Sections 159, 160, 288

Purpose: Allowed deputy returning officers to issue transfer certificates to enable electors arriving at the wrong polling station as a result of misinformation printed on their voter information cards to vote at that polling station.

Explanation: Electors in certain polling divisions in the electoral district of Palliser (Sask.) were sent voter information cards that advised them to vote at a polling station for the wrong polling division. The adaptation permitted any of those electors who went to that incorrect station to vote to do so by transfer certificate.

Sections 32, 283, 284, 285, 287

Purpose: Allowed returning officers to appoint additional deputy returning officers and poll clerks, working in pairs, to assist in counting the votes from an advance poll if more than 750 electors voted at that poll.

Explanation: The Act provides for the appointment of one deputy returning officer and one poll clerk for each advance poll, but does not provide for the appointment of additional deputy returning officers and poll clerks to count the vote at that poll. The adaptation was made because the uncertainty of winter weather conditions made it likely that increased numbers of electors would vote at advance polls.

Section 151

Purpose: Allowed the use of photocopied ballot papers in polling stations where it was evident that there were insufficient ballot papers and the supply could not be replenished before the close of polls.

Explanation: The Act requires that an elector vote using a ballot prepared according to the Act's specifications. There was concern that one or more remote polling stations might run out of ballots on election day and be unable to replenish their supply before the close of polls.

Sections 32, 135

Purpose: Allowed the appointment of an additional poll clerk with the permission of the Chief Electoral Officer at a polling station in Pierrefonds–Dollard (Que.).

Explanation: A poll clerk at a polling station in the electoral district of Pierrefonds–Dollard had to absent himself from his duties for five minutes every hour. As there was a strong turnout in that district, it was necessary to enable the returning officer to appoint an additional poll clerk, if necessary, to ensure that proceedings at the poll were not delayed as a result of these absences.

Sections 159, 160

Purpose: Authorized the returning officer or the central poll supervisor at a specific polling station in the electoral district of Ottawa Centre (Ont.) to issue transfer certificates on election day.

Explanation: A broken elevator prevented some electors from reaching their polling station on the second floor of the building. They received transfer certificates to vote at another polling station located on the ground floor.

Sections 246, 247

Purpose: Extended the statutory process for voting by the Special Voting Rules in provincial institutions to federal institutions.

Explanation: As the Act formerly prohibited voting by prisoners in federal institutions, it does not describe a process for such prisoners to vote. Since the 2002 decision of the Supreme Court of Canada in Sauvé struck down the prohibition, the Act has had to be adapted in every federal election to extend the statutory process for voting in provincial institutions to federal institutions.

Section 252

Purpose: Permitted special ballot officers to set aside special ballots cast by incarcerated electors, and omit their names from the list of electors, if the incarcerated elector specified the correctional institution as the place of ordinary residence.

Explanation: Incarcerated electors who vote using the Special Voting Rules are required to vote in the electoral district of their ordinary residence. The Act directs how that ordinary residence is to be determined. It cannot be the correctional institution in which the elector is imprisoned. Nevertheless, on the application for registration and special ballot, some incarcerated electors indicated the correctional institution as their ordinary residence, and the error was not discovered by the liaison officers who validated the application. The special ballot envelopes had to be set aside to avoid having the ballots counted in the wrong electoral district. The Act contained no provision by which this could be done.

Section 242

Purpose: Allowed electors who, by reason of erroneous instructions from an election officer, completed their special ballot by naming a political party rather than a candidate, to ask for another special ballot, up to the close of polls on election day. Where such a request was made, the elector's first special ballot was not to be opened or counted but was to be marked as spoiled and set aside.

Explanation: In Prince Edward–Hastings (Ont.), Thunder Bay–Superior North (Ont.) and South Surrey–White Rock–Cloverdale (B.C.), some electors were erroneously advised by officials in the returning office that, in voting by special ballot, they could vote by naming a political party rather than by naming a specific candidate. Paragraph 279(1)(c) of the Act requires that a special ballot be rejected if it is marked with a name other than the name of a candidate. There was no provision in the Act whereby such ballots could be set aside as spoiled ballots and the electors given another ballot.

Section 242

Purpose: Two similar adaptations were made for the electoral districts of Elgin–Middlesex–London (Ont.) and Papineau (Que.) to allow electors in each district to re-vote by special ballot if their original vote did not reflect their intention as a result of receiving an incorrect list of candidates from officials of the returning office.

Explanation: In both districts, a returning office official had given an elector who was voting by special ballot an incorrect list of candidates. The adaptation permitted the electors to request another special ballot, at which time their original special ballot envelope would be set aside.

Section 277

Purpose: Two similar adaptations were made to allow electors who had been led by returning office officials to vote by special ballot in the wrong electoral district to have their original special ballots set aside and to allow them to vote again.

Explanation: A number of electors were registered by returning office officials to vote by special ballot in the wrong electoral district. The adaptations permitted those special ballot envelopes to be set aside unopened and permitted those electors to vote again. Without the adaptation, the special ballot envelopes of these electors would have been set aside unopened, but the elector would not have been permitted to vote again. The adaptation applied to the following districts: Palliser (Sask.), Saanich–Gulf Islands (B.C.), Nepean–Carleton (Ont.), Calgary West (Alta.), Essex (Ont.), Edmonton East (Alta.), Dartmouth–Cole Harbour (N.S.), Ajax–Pickering (Ont.), North Vancouver (B.C.), Saskatoon–Humboldt (Sask.), Richmond Hill (Ont.), Oakville (Ont.), Wild Rose (Alta.), Gatineau (Que.), Mississauga–Streetsville (Ont.), Edmonton–Mill Woods–Beaumont (Alta.), Cariboo–Prince George (B.C.), Newmarket–Aurora (Ont.), LaSalle–Émard (Que.), Ottawa Centre (Ont.), Cambridge (Ont.), Guelph (Ont.), Ahuntsic (Que.), Pierrefonds–Dollard (Que.).

Section 190

Purpose: Three adaptations were made to extend the period during which specific Canadian Forces electors could vote by special ballot.

Explanation: The Act provides that Canadian Forces electors may vote by special ballot during the period beginning 14 days before election day and ending 9 days before election day. Circumstances did not permit certain groups of Canadian Forces electors to vote during this period. The adaptations extended the voting period for each group according to the circumstances. The adaptations applied to Canadian Forces electors serving in Afghanistan; Canadian Forces electors participating in an exercise with the French Navy; Canadian Forces electors participating in an exercise with the armed forces of the United States and the Netherlands; Canadian Forces electors serving in Amman, Jordan; Canadian Forces electors stationed at the United States Air Force Base in Elgin, Florida; Canadian Forces electors belonging to the Recruit School of the Canadian Forces Base in Saint-Jean, Quebec; and the Canadian Forces elector who was part of the Medical Air Evac Team that was unexpectedly scheduled to fly from Trenton, Ontario, to Ramstein, Germany, to evacuate Canadian Forces members who were seriously injured in Afghanistan.