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


3.4 Assisting Political Entities

In this section, we review Elections Canada's role in helping candidates, political parties and third parties work within the rules during the 39th general election.

3.4.1 Candidates

Beginning with the nomination process, Elections Canada's support and regulation of candidate activities continued throughout the election period and beyond.

Nominations

Anyone wishing to be a candidate had to obtain nomination papers from the RO in that riding or Elections Canada and return a completed set to the RO before the close of nominations at 2:00 p.m. (local time) on January 2, 2006. At least 100 electors entitled to vote in the riding must sign in support of a nomination in most electoral districts; 50 signatures are required in the 39 largely rural electoral districts listed in Schedule 3 of the Canada Elections Act. Once he or she received the completed nomination papers, the RO had 48 hours to complete a thorough review, and accept or reject the nomination. In the case of a rejection, candidates have until the close of nominations to present new nomination papers. ROs are directed to consult the Chief Electoral Officer before rejecting a candidate's nomination.

As candidates are confirmed, their names appear on the Elections Canada Web site; this assists electors away from home wishing to vote by special ballot.

To smooth the process, Elections Canada wrote to all political parties and encouraged their prospective candidates to provide more than the minimum number of signatures in case some were not acceptable under the Act, to clearly and completely enter the name and address for each supporting elector and to file their nomination papers early in case corrections might be needed.

A candidate whose witness is unable to get to the returning office to file the nomination papers can make other arrangements with the RO. If the documents are faxed, however, the required $1,000 deposit must still be paid by the close of nominations and the original copy of the documents presented at the returning office within 48 hours after the deadline.

With the winter timing of the 2006 election, Elections Canada took into account the possibility that a candidate might be delayed, or the returning office closed, due to inclement weather. ROs were reminded that they had to be available, right up to the deadline, to provide fair treatment to any candidate arriving at the last minute. They were further urged to inform Elections Canada immediately if exceptional circumstances nonetheless forced their office to close or prevented access.

ROs kept all potential candidates' telephone numbers on hand so they could reach anyone who had expressed an intention to run but had not yet filed the nomination papers. Candidates were likewise provided numbers for the returning office and the RO's cellphone. Late filers were reminded that the returning office kept weekend business hours and were urged to get their papers in before the close of nominations.

Within 48 hours after nominations closed, ROs had completed the confirmation and rejection of candidates in their electoral districts and faxed all official candidate documents to Elections Canada. The final list of confirmed candidates by electoral district was subsequently posted on our Web site and sent to the departments of National Defence and Foreign Affairs for distribution to their members around the world.

ROs then delivered their lists of candidates to their local printers to produce ballot papers for the advance polls and election day.

Withdrawals and Rejections

In Jeanne-Le Ber (Quebec) and Ahuntsic (Quebec), Marxist-Leninist candidates withdrew after completion of the confirmation process, but before the statutory deadline of 5:00 p.m. on nomination day. In York–Simcoe (Ontario), the PC Party candidate pulled out of the contest before completion of the confirmation process. (Under section 74 of the Canada Elections Act, this does not constitute a withdrawal.) In two ridings, Edmonton–Sherwood Park (Alberta) and Markham–Unionville (Ontario), nominations were rejected by the ROs because there were insufficient valid signatures, and the prospective independent candidates were unable to deliver more before the deadline of 2:00 p.m. on January 2.

Nomination Denial Contested

Anderson Tung's confirmation as an independent candidate in Ontario's
Markham–Unionville riding was denied by the RO because, as of the 2:00 p.m., January 2, 2006, filing deadline, his nomination paper was incomplete. On January 10, Mr. Tung applied to the Ontario Superior Court to order the Chief Electoral Officer to accept his nomination paper as validly filed. His application also asked that the Governor in Council be ordered to remove the RO from office and sought damages from Elections Canada for the alleged mishandling of his file. The application was expedited and heard on January 18, but denied on grounds that the Ontario Superior Court lacked jurisdiction over the Chief Electoral Officer. On January 19, Mr. Tung applied to the Federal Court of Canada for similar relief and sought an expedited hearing of his application. However, on January 20, the Court refused to hear the case before polling day, stating that justice would not be served if the matter proceeded without all respondents having sufficient time to prepare.

Profile of the Candidates

In 2006, 15 registered political parties ran candidates, compared with 12 in 2004. As in 2004, four parties nominated candidates in every electoral district. The total number of confirmed candidates was 1,634,7 compared with 1,685 in 2004. In the 2006 election, 1,544 candidates (94.5 percent) ran under the banner of a political party, while 85 ran as independents and 5 had no affiliation. There were 380 (23.3 percent) women candidates, compared with 391 (23.2 percent) in 2004. Of the sitting members of the House of Commons, 278, including 58 women, sought re-election, while 28 did not.

See Appendix VII of this report for details of the candidates by province, party and gender.

Preparing Candidates

As required by the Canada Elections Act, ROs provided candidates and their official agents with election documentation, lists of electors and accompanying statements of quality, lists of addresses for targeted revision and a series of geographic documents and maps for the riding. They also arranged meetings to explain such matters as the various voting methods, election day rules, how candidates could contribute to the quality of the lists of electors, the election officer positions for which candidates were entitled to recommend applicants and the location of polling places.

Elections Canada also provided training videos, handbooks, forms, software and guidance materials to brief candidates and their official agents on election expenses, reporting requirements and other election-related financial matters.

We delivered this information by means of an electronic kit. All materials included in the kit were available through our Web site and also distributed on CD-ROM and DVD to all candidates and their teams. This approach gave greater accessibility at lower cost than traditional hard-copy documents.

3.4.2 Registration of Political Parties

Since Bill C-3 came into force on May 15, 2004, any political party that endorses at least one confirmed candidate in a general election, and complies with the other legal requirements of the Canada Elections Act, attains or maintains its registration. When the 39th general election was called, 12 political parties were registered and another 3 eligible to become so. All 15 maintained or acquired registered status during the election.

Table 3.11 Status of Political Parties on Election Day

Registered Party Status Party
Status newly acquired for the 39th general election, 2006 Animal Alliance Environment Voters Party of Canada

First Peoples National Party of Canada

Western Block Party
Status retained from the 38th general election, 2004 Bloc Québécois

Canadian Action Party

Christian Heritage Party of Canada

Communist Party of Canada

Conservative Party of Canada

Green Party of Canada

Liberal Party of Canada

Libertarian Party of Canada

Marijuana Party

Marxist-Leninist Party of Canada

New Democratic Party

Progressive Canadian Party

 

Table 3.12 Number of Confirmed Candidates by Affiliation

Political Affiliation No. of Confirmed Candidates
Conservative Party of Canada
308
Green Party of Canada
308
Liberal Party of Canada
308
New Democratic Party
308
Independent
85
Bloc Québécois
75
Marxist-Leninist Party of Canada
69
Christian Heritage Party of Canada
45
Canadian Action Party
34
Progressive Canadian Party
25
Marijuana Party
23
Communist Party of Canada
21
Libertarian Party of Canada
10
First Peoples National Party of Canada
5
No affiliation
5
Western Block Party
4
Animal Alliance Environment Voters Party of Canada
1
Total
1,634
Help Desk for Candidates and Parties

As in 2004, Elections Canada set up a dedicated toll-free telephone support network to respond to questions from candidates and parties, providing assistance on various aspects of the process throughout the election.

Call statistics over the course of the election period are as follows:

3.4.3 Financing Matters – Parties and Candidates

The Canada Elections Act sets limits on the election expenses of candidates and registered political parties. Such expenses include money paid, liabilities incurred and the commercial value of goods and services donated or acquired at less than commercial value. These expenses must be for goods and services used during an election, regardless of when they were acquired or paid for, and must be incurred directly to promote or oppose a registered political party or to elect a particular candidate.

Election Expenses Limits

The election expenses limit of a registered party is based on the number of names on the preliminary or revised lists of electors (whichever is greater) for all ridings in which the party has endorsed a candidate. The limit for candidates is based on the number of names on that riding's list of electors. All candidates in a riding share the same limit, but among ridings the amount varies; it is adjusted for those with a lower-than-average number of electors or those of large geographical size.

On December 2, 2005, the Chief Electoral Officer announced the preliminary election expenses limits for both registered parties and candidates; the announcement of final election expenses limits came on January 16, 2006.

Registered parties fielding a confirmed candidate in each of the 308 electoral districts were limited to a maximum of $18,278,278.64 in election expenses. The limit for candidates varied among ridings, with the average candidate election expenses limit being $81,159.30. Details of the limits for each electoral district have been published at www.elections.ca, under Election Financing.

A vast array of information related to financing was communicated to parties and candidates throughout the election on matters that were sometimes specific to the timing of the 39th general election. Examples include the effect of political financing laws on greeting cards and expenses related to Christmas parties.

3.5 Regulation of Election Advertising

The Canada Elections Act establishes rules for advertising during an election period. Three significant areas of concern include regulating the political advertising activities of third parties, defining how broadcasting time for political parties is to be allocated and setting timelines for the publication of election results.

3.5.1 Third-party Election Advertising

A third party is defined as a person or group other than a candidate, a registered party or an electoral district association of a registered party. Under section 352 of the Act, all third parties conducting election advertising during an election must provide basic identifying information on that advertising.

Third parties must register with Elections Canada once they have incurred election advertising expenses of $500. Furthermore, they must produce a financial report, within four months after polling day, itemizing their election advertising expenses and the sources from which these advertising funds came. Section 350 of the Act sets limits on the amount a third party may incur in election advertising expenses. In the 39th general election, these limits amounted to $172,050 for a national campaign and $3,441 for an electoral district.

During the election, 80 third parties registered with Elections Canada, compared with 63 in 2004. Their financial reports are due no later than midnight on May 23, 2006.

Table 3.13 Number of Third Parties by Type
38th and 39th General Elections, 2004 and 2006

Type of Entity 2004 2006
Corporations; unions; other groups With governing bodies
28
48
Without governing bodies
27
19
Individuals
8
13
Total
63
80

3.5.2 Broadcasting Time for Political Parties

The Canada Elections Act provides for the appointment of a Broadcasting Arbitrator, who allocates air time to parties, issues guidelines on the obligations of broadcasters during a general election and arbitrates disputes between political parties and broadcasters concerning the application of the Act. Since 1992, the Broadcasting Arbitrator has been Peter S. Grant, a lawyer specializing in broadcasting matters.

Allocation of Time Available for Purchase

During a general election, the Canada Elections Act requires every broadcaster in Canada to make at least 390 minutes of paid broadcasting time available to registered and eligible parties. On April 8, 2005, the Broadcasting Arbitrator made an initial allocation of this time for the next election based on the 12 parties then registered. Adjustments were made later as two more parties became eligible before the November 29 election call.

On December 7, the First Peoples National Party of Canada became the final party to achieve registered status for the 2006 election and consequently asked the Arbitrator to allocate it broadcasting time. The Arbitrator did so, revising the allocation of paid time to all other parties accordingly and issuing a notice to this effect to all registered and eligible parties, as well as the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC).

The total time ultimately allocated to all parties for the 39th general election was 408 minutes, apportioned as shown in Table 3.14.

Table 3.14 Allocation of Paid Time (as Revised on December 8, 2005)

Political Party Minimum Number of Minutes:Seconds
Liberal Party of Canada
105:00
Conservative Party of Canada
85:00
Bloc Québécois
44:30
New Democratic Party
43:30
Green Party of Canada
25:00
Marijuana Party
13:30
Marxist-Leninist Party of Canada
13:30
Christian Heritage Party of Canada
13:00
Canadian Action Party
12:30
Communist Party of Canada
12:00
Progressive Canadian Party
11:30
Libertarian Party of Canada
11:00
Animal Alliance Environment Voters Party of Canada
6:00
First Peoples National Party of Canada
6:00
Western Block Party
6:00
Total
408:00

Decisions of the Broadcasting Arbitrator on allocating paid time under the Canada Elections Act are posted at www.elections.ca.

Allocation of Free Broadcasting Time

Under the Canada Elections Act, all "network operators" that provided free broadcasting time in the previous general election must, at a minimum, provide the same amount of free time in the subsequent election. Furthermore, this time must be allocated to parties in the same proportion as set out for each party by the Broadcasting Arbitrator.

The free time that network operators were required to allocate to the parties in the 39th general election is shown in Table 3.15.

Table 3.15 Allocation of Free Time

Political Party Network
CBC-TV
SRC-TV
CBC Radio One
SRC Première chaîne
TVA
TQS
Réseau Corus Québec
Liberal Party of Canada
55
31
16
Conservative Party of Canada
44.5
25
13
Bloc Québécois
23.5
13
7
New Democratic Party
23
13
6.5
Green Party of Canada
13
7
3.5
Canadian Action Party
7
4
2
Christian Heritage Party of Canada
7
4
2
Marijuana Party
7
4
2
Marxist-Leninist Party of Canada
7
4
2
Communist Party of Canada
6
3
2
Libertarian Party of Canada
6
3
1.5
Progressive Canadian Party
6
3
1.5
Animal Alliance Environment Voters Party of Canada
3
2
1
First Peoples National Party of Canada
3
2
1
Western Block Party
3
2
1
Total Number of Minutes
214
120
62
The Broadcasting Arbitrator's Guidelines

On November 30, 2005, the Broadcasting Arbitrator issued his guidelines to all registered and eligible political parties and to the CRTC.

The guidelines addressed such matters as procedures for booking advertisements, the requirement to identify the sponsor of election advertising, laws affecting the content of political messages, the period within which election advertisements could be aired, the requirement for broadcasters to apply their lowest applicable rates to political parties, the law relating to the publication of opinion polls and third-party advertising and the status of the rule prohibiting the release of election results before the closing of local polls.

Throughout the election, the Broadcasting Arbitrator responded to numerous inquiries from broadcasters and parties seeking guidance on the interpretation of the Canada Elections Act and the application of the guidelines. All complaints and disputes were resolved without the need to issue a binding arbitration order.

The Broadcasting Arbitrator's guidelines are available at www.elections.ca.

3.5.3 Blackouts

Polling Day Election Advertising Ban

During the election, Elections Canada considered the extent to which section 323 of the Canada Elections Act prohibits election advertising on election day. Among the other exceptions to the prohibition in subsection 323(1) that are set out in subsection 323(2) and section 324 of the Act, this prohibition does not extend to messages, whether live or automated, that are sent to a specific telephone or e-mail address. This interpretation was posted on the Elections Canada Web site.

Premature Publication of Election Results

As recounted in the report on the 38th general election, a decision of the British Columbia Supreme Court in the Bryan case declared section 329 of the Canada Elections Act to be unconstitutional. Consequently, there was no enforceable provision prohibiting the premature transmission of election results for that election.

The decision was appealed to the British Columbia Court of Appeal, which overturned it on May 20, 2005.8 Leave for appeal to the Supreme Court of Canada was granted on December 15, 2005,9 with the case scheduled to be heard on October 18, 2006.

In the interim, a media consortium applied to the Supreme Court of Canada in early January 2006, seeking the suspension of section 329, together with paragraph 495(4)(d), which makes it an offence to violate the prohibition. An alternative application was also made to have the Bryan appeal hearing expedited. On January 13, 2006, both motions were dismissed, effectively clearing the way for the prohibition established by section 329 to be applied on polling day at the 39th general election.

3.6 Voting

As the culmination of an election, the act of voting essentially defines the democratic process. It falls to the administrators of an election to ensure that every elector has the opportunity to partake in that act.

During the 39th general election, Elections Canada's efforts to keep all electors informed were complemented by the strides taken since 1993 to accommodate all who wished to vote, regardless of their personal circumstances.

The methods by which electors could vote were threefold: at a polling station on election day, at a polling station during the three days of advance voting and by special ballot, throughout the election, under the Special Voting Rules.

3.6.1 Special Ballots and the Special Voting Rules

The Special Voting Rules (Part 11 of the Canada Elections Act) afford the opportunity to vote by mail or at the office of a returning officer to electors who cannot or do not wish to go to the polls. Use of the special ballot is particularly important to Canadians away from home: Canadian Forces personnel, inmates in correctional institutions, international electors (those temporarily residing outside Canada) and national electors (those living in Canada but away from their electoral districts during the election period). The Special Voting Rules (SVR) have been extended considerably since 1990, yet further changes must be considered to better accommodate the continually evolving needs of the Canadian electorate. The Chief Electoral Officer suggested a review of all SVR legislation in his September 2005 recommendations report, Completing the Cycle of Electoral Reforms.

For the 2006 election, knowing that most college and university students would be back in class by election day and that some 200,000 other Canadians would be away for the holidays, we anticipated a high volume of special ballot use. Communication plans and resources were ramped up accordingly. The SVR administrative office hired and trained 254 individuals to conduct SVR registration and voting, compared with 169 in 2004.

Special ballot application forms and guides were available in 30 Passport Canada offices across the country, through Canadian high commissions, embassies and consular offices around the world and on the Elections Canada Web site. Electors could request the forms from an RO in person or by telephone, fax, e-mail, courier or regular mail. A total of 119,506 special ballot application forms were downloaded from the Web site, compared with 29,971 in 2004.

During the 2006 election, 127 special ballot officers were appointed to count some 112,000 special ballots received by Elections Canada, compared with 60,566 ballots counted in 2004. An additional three teams of special ballot officers were required to accommodate the increased number of ballots.

Local and National Voting

Table 3.16 shows the number of special ballots requested by local and national electors (those who live in Canada but vote by special ballot).

Table 3.16 Local and National Elector Ballots
38th and 39th General Elections, 2004 and 2006

Special Ballots 2004 2006
Local electors (vote within own riding) Issued
191,469
336,377
Returned by deadline
189,654
332,975
National electors (vote outside own riding) Issued
31,005
83,133
Returned by deadline
21,236
70,796

All applications were processed immediately, and a voting kit was mailed within 24 hours of receiving a completed application form. Of the more than 83,000 applications received from national electors, nearly 10,000 (12 percent) required further geographic research to determine the elector's correct electoral district. The SVR administrative office made some 6,500 calls to electors who had not provided proof of identity or other required information with their applications. A total of 769 electors did not provide the required information in time to register to vote by special ballot. Electors who sent incomplete applications for registration on January 16 and 17 were contacted by telephone and encouraged to vote in person on election day.

Some 12,868 electors requested a special ballot voting kit from Ottawa three or fewer days before the close of registration (January 17, 2006). Although Elections Canada promptly mailed the voting kit, as prescribed by the Canada Elections Act, the elector had the responsibility to ensure that his or her ballot was received in Ottawa by the legal deadline of 6:00 p.m., Eastern Time, on January 23, 2006. A total of 3,173 ballots were received after the deadline, compared with 495 in 2004.

International Voting

Elections Canada maintains a register of Canadian non-military electors who are temporarily living outside the country. Voting rights for most Canadians abroad are subject to a five-year limit since the elector's last visit home.

As a partner of Elections Canada, Foreign Affairs Canada has, since 1993, been providing information about the electoral process through its diplomatic missions and consular offices. These offices distribute registration forms and guides, respond to inquiries about registration and voting procedures, make the names of confirmed candidates available to electors and receive completed registration forms and special ballots to be forwarded to Ottawa. On January 5, 2006, Foreign Affairs Canada sent the list of confirmed candidates for all electoral districts to each mission; electors could call or visit that office to find out who their candidates were.

During the election, more than 2,100 voting kits were sent from Elections Canada to electors abroad via diplomatic classified bag. Out-of-country electors were entitled to return their completed ballots to any Canadian high commission, embassy, consular office or Canadian Forces base in time for the ballots to reach Elections Canada in Ottawa no later than 6:00 p.m. Eastern Time on election day. Diplomatic missions and consular offices sent the ballots to Elections Canada in Ottawa, as they received them, by the next diplomatic classified bag or commercial courier, respectively.

Table 3.17 International Elector Ballots
38th and 39th General Elections, 2004 and 2006

Special Ballots 2004 2006
Issued to electors in the international register
11,719
15,083
Returned before the deadline
7,736
9,208
Returned after the deadline
391
933

 

Courier Initiative

Records from the June 2004 election show that some 75 percent of all ballots mailed to electors outside Canada were sent to either the United States or Western Europe, where postal service is reasonably efficient and reliable. This was reflected in their return rates of 72.1 percent and 73.5 percent, respectively, with an average return time of about 20 days. For other regions, however, results were dramatically different, with an overall return rate of only 49.4 percent and an average return time of nearly 25 days.

After reviewing these statistics, Elections Canada prepared a pilot project for the 39th general election whereby special ballot voting kits would be sent by courier to those regions outside Canada, the U.S. and Western Europe with an average return time of more than 21 days.

The 5,706 ballots sent during the 2006 election were more than double the 2,742 sent in 2004. The number of ballots returned on time from the targeted regions increased by 6.2 percent to 55.6 percent. As well, the number of ballots not returned at all decreased by 4.2 percent to 36.8 percent.

Canadian Forces Voting

Members of the Canadian Forces (CF) can vote in a general election by special ballot wherever they are stationed. Upon enlisting, a CF member completes a form (which can be amended when needed) indicating his or her address of ordinary residence, and the member's vote is counted in the electoral district where that address is located. For a minimum period of three days between January 9 and 14, 2006, polling stations were set up on CF bases around the world to give all members the opportunity to vote.

The Minister of National Defence designates a coordinating officer and liaison officers to work with Elections Canada in administering the military vote. A total of 12 liaison officers coordinated efforts for Canada, the United States, Europe and special operations around the world. The excellent collaboration and support from members of the CF contributed to successful vote-taking once again during this election.

Election material was shipped to CF bases in two phases. The first shipment, sent in early December 2005, consisted of information pamphlets and posters delivered to 92 different destinations throughout Canada, the U.S. and Europe. The second shipment, through December and early January, contained 1,165 parcels of material required to conduct the vote; these were delivered to 551 destinations in Canada and around the world.

Table 3.18 Canadian Forces Electors
38th and 39th General Elections, 2004 and 2006

Canadian Forces 2004 2006
Units
1,046
1,059
Registered electors
62,436
60,878
Ballots cast on base
22,344
20,772

The CF turnout rate has remained fairly constant over past general elections. However, Elections Canada cannot capture data on all the ballots cast by CF members. The Canada Elections Act permits CF electors to vote at a polling station in their electoral districts if they happen to be on leave or posted at home during an election. Given the holiday season, more CF members may have been on leave in their home ridings.

Student Voting

On certain campuses during the election, booths were established at which students could apply to vote by special ballot. Generally, such SVR initiatives were set up to complement other Elections Canada services, such as targeted revision and public advertising campaigns. Five electoral districts had special ballot coordinator booths where voting actually took place. In many more, election officers distributed special ballot applications and information during targeted revision or at information booths.

A common challenge faced by students wanting to register on election day was that they did not always have the necessary proof of residence for their university address. Registration officers, deputy returning officers (DROs) and poll clerks were reminded which types of identification were acceptable and that a DRO needed to be satisfied that those documents were authentic and proved an elector's identity and residence. Under the Canada Elections Act, the DRO's decision is final.

On-campus Initiative at the University of Toronto

In the electoral district of Trinity–Spadina (Ontario), Elections Canada was made aware, on short notice, of an initiative of the local returning officer, who was encouraging students to vote by special ballot over a three-day period at special ballot desks on the campus of the University of Toronto. Similar, but more limited, initiatives had been carried out in other locations to give students better access to voting.

Although the booths had not been designed to serve large voting communities, they would have nonetheless been accessible to some 50,000 students. The magnitude of this undertaking raised concerns about the ability to deliver quality service and the lack of legal authority that election officers would have to maintain order and protect the privacy of voters. It was also determined that not all candidates had been given sufficient notice of the initiative, and it would thus interfere with their ability to campaign in the same locations.

Given these concerns, the initiative was cancelled. The special ballot desks were replaced with information booths and targeted revision on campus and 10 new polling stations were opened in three student residence buildings to better serve students on election day. Student electors could also register and vote at the nearby advance polls on January 13, 14 and 16. Those who wanted to register and vote by special ballot could do so at the local returning office.

Voting in Acute Care Hospitals

Patients in acute care hospitals, whether inside or outside their electoral districts, were able to vote by special ballot. Elections Canada contacted all such facilities in early December 2005, explained the procedures for voting and asked for co-operation in helping patients to vote. ROs arranged for special ballot voting with local hospital administrators. They also appointed one hospital special ballot coordinator for every 200 acute care beds to register all eligible patients who wished to vote.

Due to circumstances typical of a hospital environment, some hospital officials expressed concerns about patient safety and privacy and were reluctant to allow election officers to visit patients in their rooms. In these cases, special arrangements were made to allow visits with the consent of the patient.

Special ballot registration and voting in hospitals took place on January 15, 16 and 17, 2006. By law, this service could not be provided after the end of registration on January 17, 2006. A total of 7,221 electors hospitalized outside their electoral districts registered to vote by special ballot, compared with 5,808 in 2004. According to reports filed by returning officers, some 11,060 electors hospitalized within their own electoral districts registered to vote by special ballot as well, bringing the total number of hospitalized voters to some 18,280.

Voting in Correctional Institutions

The Supreme Court of Canada's decision in Sauvé v. Canada (Chief Electoral Officer) on October 31, 2002, made all incarcerated electors, regardless of the length of their sentences, eligible to vote by special ballot. At present, however, the Canada Elections Act provides a voting process only for individuals incarcerated in provincial institutions. The Chief Electoral Officer therefore adapted sections 246 and 247 of the Act to extend this process to federal institutions.

For the 2006 election, a polling station was set up for each group of 100 electors in every institution; inmates voted on January 13, 2006. Of the estimated 35,314 incarcerated persons in Canada eligible to vote, 12,373 registered and 11,594 cast ballots.

Table 3.19 Voter Registration in Correctional Institutions

Jurisdiction Electors Electors Who Registered
Federal
12,557
5,640
Provincial
22,757
6,733
Total
35,314
12,373

 

Voting in Isolated Places

The flexibility of the special ballot allows Elections Canada to accommodate electors in some of the most remote and isolated places in Canada.

  • In British Columbia, a special ballot coordinator flew to 27 lighthouses to help electors working there to register and vote.
  • Special arrangements were made to ensure that electors working in isolated mines were able to vote in Newfoundland and Labrador, Yukon, the Northwest Territories and Nunavut.
  • Companies that operate offshore drilling rigs were provided with information on how employees could exercise their right to vote.
  • Special arrangements, coordinated with National Defence and Environment Canada, were made to ensure the timely delivery and return of special ballots to Northern weather stations in Eureka and Alert.
Overall SVR Numbers

More electors voted under the SVR in the 39th general election than in the 38th or 37th. Table 3.20 compares the number of special ballots cast in each of these three elections.

Table 3.20 Special Voting Rules – Comparison Among the
37th, 38th and 39th General Elections (2000, 2004 and 2006)

Categories of Electors Eligible Under the Special Voting Rules Number of Ballots Cast
2000 2004 2006
Group 1
Members of the Canadian Forces
19,030
22,344
20,722
Incarcerated electors
5,188*
9,250
11,594
Electors temporarily residing outside Canada
7,700
7,736
9,208
Group 1 Subtotal
31,918
39,330
41,524
Group 2**
Electors voting in their electoral districts (Local)
138,065
189,654
332,975
Electors temporarily outside their electoral districts (National)
25,963
21,236
70,796***
Group 2 Subtotal
164,028
210,890
403,771
Total Number of Special Ballots Cast
195,946
250,220
445,295

*Electors incarcerated in federal institutions did not have the right to vote in 2000.
**Includes electors in acute care hospitals.
***Includes snowbirds.

3.6.2 Voting in Advance

Another option provided by the Canada Elections Act for Canadians who cannot or do not wish to go to the polling station on election day is advance voting.

On January 13, 14 and 16, 2006, in 2,767 locations, 3,371 polling stations were open across Canada. In preparation for advance voting, returning officers printed revised lists of electors, which reflected the updates made since revision had started. Across Canada, the revised lists contained the names and addresses of 22,765,324 electors. Any elector whose name was not on the revised lists could register and vote at an advance polling station. A total of 1,561,039 electors cast advance votes in the 2006 election, representing 6.8 percent of registered electors.

Table 3.21 Advance Voting 1997–2006

General Election Valid Ballots Cast Voter Turnout
1997
704,336
3.6%
2000
775,157
3.5%
2004
1,248,469
5.5%
2006
1,561,039
6.8%
Field Staff Contingency Planning

ROs developed a field staff contingency plan for advance voting, in conjunction with field liaison officers, to ensure adequate service for the expected increase in advance voters. The contingency plan rested not only on the deployment of standby resources, but also on greater flexibility in hiring. ROs could hire additional and standby registration officers, information officers, poll clerks, DROs and central poll supervisors. If necessary, ROs could also have poll officials on standby. These resources are not usually authorized for advance polls. The electoral district profile and expected number of advance poll voters governed the final resourcing decisions, and prior approval from the Chief Electoral Officer was mandatory for any additional resources. Overall, ROs were prepared to handle up to 100 percent more advance poll voters in 2006 than they had prepared for in 2004.

Table 3.22 shows the number of additional and standby resources for all 308 electoral districts at advance voting.

Table 3.22 Advance Voting Contingency Plan

Additional Resources
Registration officers
2,159
Information officers
1,258
Poll clerks
751
Central poll supervisors
696
Subtotal
4,864
Standby Resources
Registration officers
384
Information officers
209
Deputy returning officers
840
Poll clerks
463
Central poll supervisors
294
Subtotal
2,190
Total Additional and Standby Resources
7,054

In anticipation of a heavier turnout, the Chief Electoral Officer authorized ROs to hire additional teams of DROs and poll clerks to count the ballots cast at advance polls. This count takes place at the close of polls on election day – one week after the end of the advance polls. Hiring additional teams would ensure a timely release of results. ROs were authorized to hire up to two additional teams of poll officials (one DRO and one poll clerk) if more than 750 advance poll ballots needed to be counted. Elections Canada recommended one team per advance poll day. ROs were urged to advise the candidates in their electoral district of these procedures and invite them to deploy additional candidates' representatives to witness the count.

3.6.3 Voting on Election Day

The third and final means by which Canadians are able to vote is to cast a ballot at a polling station on election day. As the traditional method of voting, it remained the first choice for the vast majority of Canadian electors during the 39th general election. In preparation for election day, ROs printed official lists of electors, which reflected the updates made since revision had started. The names of the electors who had already applied to vote by special ballot or who had voted at an advance poll were crossed off to prevent any attempt at voting twice. Across Canada, the official lists contained the names and addresses of 22,812,683 electors. This section recounts what occurred on election day, January 23, 2006.

Ballots

It is through the ballot that electors exercise their right to vote. Printing the ballots for an electoral district is one of the most demanding tasks for an RO – especially in view of the strict deadlines imposed by the Canada Elections Act. While ballots are printed locally in each riding, the special paper used is provided under strictly controlled conditions by Elections Canada.

Before the election, each RO had lined up a local printer for the ballots and other riding-specific items. Because it was likely that many companies would not be working during the holidays unless alerted in advance, ROs contacted their printers in mid-December to ensure that key items could be produced when needed. The ROs had a series of printing deadlines during the election: the voter information cards (at the printer no later than December 16), the revised lists of electors (printed by January 10), the ballots (printed by January 8) and the official lists of electors (printed by January 20).

Elections Canada shipped the blank sheets of controlled ballot paper directly to each printer between December 14 and 22 (Canada Post's National Coordinator and Regional Team Leaders managed these deliveries in conjunction with the printers for Elections Canada).

In mid-December as well, other materials necessary for the printing of ballots were shipped to the returning offices – the artwork for the back of the ballot paper, as well as the artwork for the front, where the names of political parties are listed. New artwork was prepared for the three new political parties.

As soon as each riding's candidates were confirmed, the RO sent the printer the candidate information for the ballot. After the RO signed off on the proof copy of the ballot, the candidates' names and affiliations were printed and the ballots were bound in books, ready for voting in the returning office, at the advance polls and on election day.

Field Staff Contingency Planning

As for advance voting, field liaison officers (FLOs) helped ROs develop contingency plans to ensure that all election day polling stations would open at the time prescribed by the Canada Elections Act. For election day, ROs could hire additional and standby registration officers, information officers and central poll supervisors. They could also hire standby DROs and poll clerks. If sufficient additional staff were warranted, additional time would be assigned to the training officer, as well. ROs responded extremely well to the directive to develop contingency plans.

The contingency plan for field staff on election day took into consideration the distances that standby resources would have to travel. In principle, standby poll officials had to arrive at the assigned polling station within 30 minutes.

Logically, the election day contingency plan required more standby resources than the contingency plan for advance voting. Table 3.23 shows the number of additional and standby resources for all 308 electoral districts on election day.

Table 3.23 Election Day Contingency Plan

Additional Resources
Registration officers
2,551
Information officers
2,065
Central poll supervisors
920
Subtotal
5,536
Standby Resources
Registration officers
1,100
Information officers
713
Deputy returning officers
4,244
Poll clerks
1,563
Central poll supervisors
1,229
Subtotal
8,849
Total Additional and Standby Resources
14,385

Elections Canada has established a comprehensive tracking and reporting system to ensure that advance and regular polls open on time. The DRO in every poll must arrive 45 minutes early; the central poll supervisor must arrive 60 minutes early and phone the RO to confirm that the poll is ready to open. Standby resources are deployed immediately to any poll not calling in. ROs are directed by the Chief Electoral Officer to report any poll in danger of not opening on time and to advise the FLO. All of these warnings are monitored at Elections Canada in Ottawa to ensure that remedial action is taken to open polls on time. ROs were also instructed to report any events during voting hours that resulted in polls having to close due to severe weather, power outages or other unforeseen events.

Delays and Disruptions at the Polls

Of the 62,106 polling stations on election day (60,795 stationary and 1,311 mobile), Elections Canada was informed that 36 – located at 16 polling sites in 11 electoral districts – did not open at the time prescribed by the Act, thereby potentially affecting service to some 13,393 electors. Many of these polling stations established service within one hour of the appointed time. Reasons for delays included nine poll officials who did not arrive (one of whom was in a car accident) and had to be replaced; documents were missing – in one case, ballots were delivered by helicopter to a remote reserve isolated by bad weather; and one poll had to be relocated because the furnace was not working at the original site. At another remote location, poll officials could not get access to the site because of a power outage. One DRO put up signs and opened a temporary polling station at her own home, while another operated a polling station from a truck.

Power Failure in Northern Saskatchewan

Early in the evening of election day, the RO for Desnethé–Missinippi–Churchill River called Elections Canada to report a power failure. As details continued to come in from the field, the Major Incident Task Force Control Centre activated the plans it had developed for such a contingency. Communication with the RO, the power company and the Government Operations Centre established the magnitude of the power failure. Some 31 polls were affected at 24 sites. In a matter of minutes, the Control Centre had mapped the area and provided the Chief Electoral Officer with the estimated number of electors affected (some 9,000) and the latest local weather forecast.

The RO and local staff worked relentlessly to keep polls open and ensure uninterrupted service to electors. Some voting took place by candlelight. Meanwhile, the Chief Electoral Officer instructed the Control Centre to enter full contingency mode for the transmission of polling night results, as it was difficult to estimate how long the failure would last. The RO secured a power generator, and communication was quickly established between local electricians and information technology specialists in Ottawa to ensure that the returning office server could be powered up safely. The server was back on-line some 50 minutes before results would be made public.

After discussing the matter directly with the RO and considering that at no time were any polls closed in that riding, the Chief Electoral Officer concluded that the situation did not call for him to invoke section 59 of the Act. Throughout their ordeal, the local staff were helped by relatively mild temperatures for the season and the tenacity of the RO. Power came back on at 8:22 p.m. local time.

Service to electors was interrupted for various reasons in 31 other polling stations, at six polling sites in six electoral districts. This potentially affected 11,639 electors. Four sites (29 polling stations) experienced brief evacuations due to fire alarms; at one polling station, the DRO was replaced within 15 minutes after a death in the family, and another polling station was closed for 50 minutes in the evening due to a power outage.

Despite the difficult weather conditions and power outages that affected four electoral districts, some 60 polls at the 32 related polling sites were able to provide service, without delay or interruption, to some 18,600 electors. Some poll officials went on duty with flashlights so the voting could continue uninterrupted, and one poll was moved to the kitchen of the facility, where ovens provided some heat. Another poll was held in the foyer of a building, despite cold weather, because daylight from the front window offered sufficient lighting while the power was out.

The many poll officials who endured freezing conditions, and who devised creative solutions to provide service to their electors during power outages and various disruptions, deserve high commendation, as do the ROs who provided excellent leadership and support.

Destruction of a Ballot Box

In one electoral district, a man entered a polling station, snatched a ballot box, took it outside and ran over it with his truck. Approximately 50 people had already voted, and their ballots were in the box.

Police took the man into custody until the polls closed, and the RO delivered a new ballot box to the polling station.

The crushed box, with its ballots, was brought in and placed on the floor of the polling station. The RO ensured that all candidates had a representative at the polling station and, in the presence of the representatives and election officers, removed all ballots from the damaged box and placed them in the new ballot box. The new box was duly sealed, and all representatives and election officers signed the seal. Voting proceeded without further incident.

Media Filming in Polling Stations

Section 135 of the Canada Elections Act prohibits the presence of the media at a polling station on polling day, even if an elector consents to being filmed. This is meant to allow voters to consider and cast their votes in private, without distraction, disruption or delay.

On January 18, 2006, the Chief Electoral Officer issued a reminder to the media that their representatives were not permitted at polling stations or in the returning office to film or broadcast voting by electors – including party leaders. They were permitted, however, to film proceedings from the doorway of these locations, provided this could be done without obstructing easy access to the polling location or disturbing electors within it or nearby. Most media respected the request. An e-mail sent on January 19, 2006, to the Advisory Committee of Political Parties distribution list reminded the parties of the same restriction.

3.6.4 International Delegates

Elections Canada hosted numerous delegates from other nations to observe our operations during the 39th general election.

Visitors Program

Our Visitors Program ran from January 19 to 23, 2006. A total of 15 people participated, including election administration officials from Australia, Mexico and Iraq, representatives of the International Centre for Human Rights and Democratic Development (Rights & Democracy) and students from the University of Moncton and the University of Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, who were involved in an international exchange program to refine their knowledge of democracy and elections.

The program consisted primarily of information sessions on the role of Elections Canada during an election period, demonstrations of our Event Management System, visits to returning offices and observations of polling stations on election day.

3.7 Adaptations During the 39th General Election

The Chief Electoral Officer may adapt the Canada Elections Act under subsection 17(1) to address an emergency, an error, or an unusual or unforeseen circumstance.

The Chief Electoral Officer's adaptations to the Act made during the 39th general election are listed in full in Appendix VIII of this report.


7 Although 1,636 candidates were confirmed, 2 of them withdrew after confirmation, leaving 1,634 active candidates. Under the election financing rules, candidates who withdraw after the deadline are subject to all reporting requirements. In 2004, 1,686 candidates were confirmed, but 1 withdrew after confirmation, leaving 1,685 active candidates.

8 R. v. Bryan, 2005 BCCA 285.

9 R. v. Bryan, 2005 CanLII 46902 (S.C.C.).