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


4. Wrap-up of the 39thGeneral Election and a Look Forward

Introduction

Once the polls close, for most people the election is over. For Elections Canada, an intensive stretch of work is just beginning.

Our post-election activities can be divided into three general, overlapping phases. First, we must confirm the election results and the winning candidates for each of the 308ridings across the country. At the same time, we must conduct election close-out activities, such as shutting down 308returning offices and 111satellite offices, making payments to over 180,925election workers and office staff (who filled 205,932positions), processing financial and advertising reports from political entities and reimbursing their eligible expenses, dealing with electoral law enforcement matters and reporting to Parliament. Finally, we must evaluate our performance during the election in an ongoing effort to improve our administration of each successive electoral event.

This chapter recounts Elections Canada's activities for each of the three post-election phases. We then examine some of our more critical preparations for the next election, which are already underway.

4.1 The Electors Speak

This first section looks at the specific outcomes of the vote, including how many electors voted, the preliminary results reported on election night and the final election results. These were determined after the validation process was performed in each returning office and by Elections Canada or, in some cases, by judicial recounts following the validation of results.

4.1.1 Final Lists of Electors

On election day, some 795,000 electors registered at the polls; either they were added to the lists of electors, or they had their addresses changed before they voted. Shortly after election day, returning office staff entered these registrations into their local databases. As was the case during the revision period, however, before adding an elector, staff first eliminated duplicate entries. They searched the national lists and deleted electors who had moved to a new riding from the database for their former riding. Once updated in the field, all elector databases were sent back to Elections Canada. This completed a cycle of 55 days, during which more than 2million changes were made to the preliminary lists of electors.

Elections Canada then verified the entries to detect and remove any remaining duplicate records. Although most returning officers (ROs) had used all the quality assurance tools at their disposal to ensure that no elector appeared twice on the lists, we were able to find and remove some 217,000 duplicate records – a reduction from the 288,000 duplicate records on the lists of electors returned after the June28,2004, election.

At the conclusion of this effort, the number of names on the final lists of electors for the 39th general election was 23,054,615. This was an increase of 1.6 percent over the preliminary lists and up 2.6 percent from the 2004 election. The final lists of electors were delivered to members of Parliament and registered political parties on April13,2006.

4.1.2 Voter Turnout

There are various ways of calculating voter turnout. One method is to compare the number of votes cast with an estimate of the total population of electors. Another method, used by Elections Canada, is to express voter participation as the ratio between the number of votes cast and the number of registered electors. Hence, if the number of registered electors increases and if the number of votes cast is stable, then the rate of voter participation will decrease over time relative to the number of registered electors.

The total number of votes cast in the 2006 election, including advance polls, special ballots and ordinary polling day, was 14,908,703 – an increase of about 9.0 percent over the 13,683,570 cast in 2004. Relative to the 23,054,615 electors on the lists, this translates into a turnout rate – using the method employed by Elections Canada – of 64.7 percent. This marks the first turnout rate increase since the 34th general election (1988).

Figure 4.1 Trend in Voter Turnout

Figure 4.1 Trend in Voter Turnout

Note: The turnout in 2000 was adjusted from 61.2 percent to 64.1 percent following the normal maintenance of the National Register of Electors to remove the names of deceased electors and duplicates.

Table 4.1 Voter Turnout – 38th and 39th General Elections, 2004 and 2006

Province or Territory 38th General Election, 2004 39th General Election, 2006
Electors on Final Lists Ballots Cast Voter Turnout% Electors on Final Lists Ballots Cast Voter Turnout%
Newfoundland and Labrador
405,032
199,536
49.3
403,982
228,961
56.7
Prince Edward Island
109,031
77,143
70.8
107,677
78,829
73.2
Nova Scotia
706,932
440,450
62.3
750,829
479,580
63.9
New Brunswick
597,440
374,952
62.8
594,104
410,918
69.2
Quebec
5,800,109
3,507,100
60.5
5,852,528
3,737,849
63.9
Ontario
8,294,928
5,127,387
61.8
8,536,359
5,682,366
66.6
Manitoba
841,061
476,512
56.7
831,278
517,557
62.3
Saskatchewan
723,922
427,960
59.1
712,427
463,788
65.1
Alberta
2,171,584
1,278,932
58.9
2,322,108
1,436,655
61.9
British Columbia
2,750,577
1,739,999
63.3
2,875,950
1,832,557
63.7
Yukon
20,345
12,578
61.8
21,493
14,206
66.1
Northwest Territories
28,619
13,546
47.3
28,792
16,186
56.2
Nunavut
17,041
7,475
43.9
17,088
9,251
54.1
Canada
22,466,621
13,683,570
60.9
23,054,615
14,908,703
64.7

Both the number of votes cast and the turnout rate increased in all provinces and territories over 2004, but the percentage improvement was greater in some regions than others. This was due partly to the fact that turnout was influenced by changes in the number of registered electors.

Figure 4.2 Voter Turnout – 38th and 39th General Elections, 2004 and 2006

Figure 4.2 Voter Turnout – 38th and 39th General Elections, 2004 and 2006

4.1.3 Preliminary Results on Election Day

Shortly after the last polls closed for the 39th general election on Monday, January23,2006, Elections Canada began to count the ballots, and at 10:00 p.m., Eastern Time, we began to report the preliminary results on our Web site.

Each deputy returning officer (DRO) counted the votes for his or her polling station in the presence of witnesses. The DRO then filled out a statement of the vote and telephoned the unofficial results to the returning office, where they were entered into the Event Results System (ERS) – a software application that captures poll-by-poll results. The ballots and other election documents were then sealed in the ballot box and delivered to the RO for validation.

Special ballots counted in Ottawa from national, international, Canadian Forces and incarcerated electors were also tabulated and faxed to each RO on election night. They were then added to the results of voting by local electors in the ERS as two separate groups. Group 1 included the votes of international, Canadian Forces and incarcerated electors, while Group 2 included the votes of national and local electors.

As results were entered into the ERS, they automatically appeared on our Web site. They were also simultaneously relayed to the computers of the Media Consortium – a national media group representing major news providers that centralizes media access to preliminary voting results on election night. The Consortium, in turn, distributed the results, continuously and unfiltered, to all of its national, regional and local media members and to the Web sites of Canada's main news outlets. Local and regional media representatives were often present in returning offices and were able to obtain progressive local results upon request.

Members of the Media Consortium
  • CBC and its French-language sister SRC
  • CTV
  • Global TV
  • TVA
  • CHUM Television
  • The Canadian Press and Broadcast News/La Presse Canadienne et Nouvelles Télé-Radio

The election night results for the 39th general election were based on 66,151 of the total 66,171 polls reporting. The riding of Mount Royal (Quebec) closed with all but 16 polls reporting, while in Kenora (Ontario) and Nunavut (Nunavut), the evening closed with all but 2 polls reporting in each riding, after the DROs failed to phone in the results. This total of 20 polls that did not report is a significant reduction from the 241 that did not report in the 2004 election; however, additional improvements will be sought in an effort to reduce this number further.

Poll-by-Poll Results

To protect the secrecy of the vote, Elections Canada does not release any preliminary poll-by-poll results on election night. Instead, we summarize the results for five polls at a time in each electoral district. Candidates' representatives receive a copy of the Statement of the Vote on election night at each poll they attend.

A few ROs have traditionally provided preliminary poll-by-poll results to local media, but the Chief Electoral Officer directed all ROs not to provide such information.

On February2,2006, the Chief Electoral Officer issued a news release committing Elections Canada to a review of the system. For elections held after October1,2006, poll-by-poll results will be available to local media after validation of the results in a new hard-copy report developed for this purpose.

4.1.4 After Election Day

Validation of the Results

The results compiled and reported on election night are considered preliminary. These results are then verified and completed (in the case of polls not reporting on election night) during the validation process within seven days of election day.

To validate the results, the RO – in the presence of witnesses – adds the totals given on each Statement of the Vote. Upon completing the validation, the RO delivers a certificate announcing the validated results to the candidates. Seven days later, or immediately following any judicial recount, the RO writes the name of the winning candidate on the back of the writ and returns it to the Chief Electoral Officer. As each RO reports to Ottawa, results and validation dates are posted on the Web, showing the number of valid ballots by candidate as well as the rejected ballots and total ballots cast.

In the 39th general election, 178 electoral districts conducted validation on January24,2006, and another 94 on January 25. By February 2, all 308 districts had been validated and the results posted at www.elections.ca.

Adjournments of Validation of the Results

If the RO does not receive all ballot boxes and results of voting by special ballot by the date published in the Notice of Election for the validation of results (this can happen in large ridings with remote polls), validation must be postponed and every effort made to retrieve any missing boxes. The delay, however, cannot exceed two weeks beyond the original seven days permitted by law. In the event that a ballot box has been destroyed or continues to be missing, specific procedures are outlined in section 296 of the Canada Elections Act.

Following the 39th general election, there were eight postponements (also referred to as "adjournments"). As entitled witnesses of the validation proceedings, all candidates in these cases were duly advised.

Table 4.2 Adjournments of Validation of the Results
39th General Election,2006

Province or Territory Electoral District Delay
Quebec Ahuntsic
1 day
Ontario Algoma–Manitoulin–Kapuskasing
2 days
Kenora
1 day
Thunder Bay–Superior North
1 day
British Columbia Okanagan–Coquihalla
1 day
Skeena–Bulkley Valley
1 day
Northwest Territories Western Arctic
3 days
Nunavut Nunavut
1 day
Recounts

There were two judicial recounts following the 39th general election, both of which confirmed the original winning candidate.

Final Results (Return of the Writs)

The candidate with the most votes in a riding is officially declared elected when the RO completes the form on the back of the writ. The RO sends a copy of the return of the writ to each candidate, then returns the writ itself, along with all other election documents, to the Chief Electoral Officer. The Chief Electoral Officer records the receipt of the writs and, without delay, publishes the names of the elected candidates in the Canada Gazette.

For the 39th general election, the date set for the return of the writs was February13,2006. Writs must be held at least six days after the validation of the results to allow time for candidates and electors to request a recount. Should such a request occur before a winner is declared, the RO must await the recount judge's decision before returning the writ. As a result of the statutory recount process, the final writ for the 39thgeneral election was actually returned on February15,2006.

A total of 308 candidates were elected to the House of Commons in this election. Of these, 240 were members in the 38th Parliament. Additionally, 64 of the elected candidates were women, the remaining 244 were men. (The 38th general election holds the record for most women elected, at 65.)

Table 4.3 compares the number of seats won by each party in the election with standings in the House of Commons at Parliament's dissolution on November29,2005.

Table 4.3 Number of Seats in the House of Commons, by Political Affiliation
39thGeneral Election,2006

Political Affiliation At the Dissolution of Parliament (Nov.29,2005) After 39th General Election (Jan.23,2006)
Conservative Party of Canada
98
124
Liberal Party of Canada
133
103
Bloc Québécois
53
51
New Democratic Party
18
29
Independent/No affiliation
4
1
Canadian Action Party
Christian Heritage Party of Canada
Communist Party of Canada
Green Party of Canada
Libertarian Party of Canada
Marijuana Party
Marxist-Leninist Party of Canada
Progressive Canadian Party
Animal Alliance Environment Voters Party of Canada
*
First Peoples National Party of Canada
*
Western Block Party
*
Total
306**
308

*Party registered during the 2006 general election.
**At the dissolution of Parliament, two seats in the House of Commons were vacant.

Official Results

After each general election, the Chief Electoral Officer, in accordance with paragraph533(a) of the Canada Elections Act, must publish a report that sets out the official voting results, by polling division, together with any other information he considers relevant.

Given the demand for poll-by-poll results during and shortly after the election, the Chief Electoral Officer published interim poll-by-poll results on the Elections Canada Web site on March13,2006. The interim results reflected the validation conducted by ROs and the judicial recounts that occurred in two ridings; they did not include the number of electors on the lists because these had not yet been finalized.

For the 39th general election, the official voting results were posted on our Web site on May12,2006.10 They were also published on a CD-ROM – together with a results map, statistical tables, poll-by-poll results grouped by candidate and riding, and a user guide – and distributed to each member of the House of Commons and Senate, and to the leaders of each registered political party, within one week of being posted on our Web site. Two copies of a printed map entitled Canada: The 39th Parliament, showing results by riding and listing members of the House of Commons and senators, were sent under separate cover at the same time. Like all Elections Canada reports, this report is distributed to provide precise and complete information to the public about the administration of the 39thgeneral election, thereby ensuring the transparency of the Canadian electoral process.

4.1.5 Lists of Electors

Reports of Non-citizens on the Lists of Electors

Before being registered in the National Register of Electors or on a list of electors, a person must first provide adequate proof of identity and attest to Canadian citizenship. The only exceptions occur when names are added to the Register through updates from a provincial or territorial list of electors. In these cases, it is expected that the source agency has verified the elector's status before adding the name to its own lists.

During the election, reports appeared in some newspapers about non-citizens who had incorrectly been registered to vote. These reports included sufficient detail for Elections Canada to follow up on four cases. We generally found the electors in question to have been originally registered to vote through a door-to-door enumeration. They were included in the Register either through provincial electoral lists used for updates or from the last federal enumeration in 1997. Whenever non-citizens were discovered, they were removed from the lists. Further investigation of the Register revealed that 511non-citizens had been included on preliminary voters lists through an administrative error, despite the fact that they had confirmed with Elections Canada that they were not Canadian citizens. Their records were removed from the revised lists of electors, and Elections Canada sent a notification to each of these individuals.

New electors are added to the Register from Citizenship and Immigration Canada files only after citizenship is granted and consent is provided. They may also be identified from driver's licence files or income tax files, but we write to those potential electors asking them to attest to Canadian citizenship before adding them to the Register. During the election, and when registering on polling day, electors must show identification and sign an oath confirming they are Canadian citizens. In addition, the prescribed form clearly states that it is an offence to provide false information. There are large signs posted in all voting locations that clearly state that only Canadian citizens at least 18years of age are eligible to vote.

Electors Listed at Non-residential Addresses

An elector's residential address determines his or her polling division and consequently the advance and ordinary polling station where the elector may vote. However, a small number of electors appear in the Register at non-residential addresses. For the most part, these business addresses are derived from tax file information for electors who prefer to have their Canada Revenue Agency correspondence sent to their place of work. A non-residential address may also be assigned to an elector who is under the guardianship of a public trustee.

Elections Canada's voter registration system has improved its ability to detect these addresses. In some cases, Canada Post has identified the target address with a commercial postal code; in other cases, Register staff have flagged the building as commercial, based on past experience, to prevent electors from being assigned to that address. However, at the time preliminary lists were distributed, we had reason to believe, from new postal code information, that some 6,500 electors were still assigned to non-residential addresses. ROs were informed, and after revising agents had confirmed that these were non-residential addresses, the electors in question were struck off the revised lists for the polling division where they were incorrectly registered.

Nevertheless, some electors remained assigned to non-residential addresses that had not yet been identified as such. Shortly before polling day, representatives of a candidate in Edmonton Centre informed Elections Canada and the media that some electors appearing on the revised lists were still registered at non-residential addresses. To ensure that only eligible voters appeared on the lists used on polling day, all elector records in this electoral district were checked against available sources to determine whether these assertions were true. Suspect buildings were visited, and in the end, some 350 records appeared to be at primarily non-residential addresses. These records were flagged so that deputy returning officers and candidates' representatives at the polls could verify the electors' correct residential addresses when they came to vote.

Elections Canada will continue exploring new and more thorough methods of identifying and recording non-residential addresses across Canada. One promising method consists of matching lists of Register addresses with a file of addresses to which only a commercial telephone line is assigned.

4.2 Closing Out the Election

The process of closing out a federal election begins immediately after polling day with the preparation and distribution of payment to tens of thousands of election workers and the shutting down of 308 returning offices and 111 satellite offices. It can take years to complete because some matters of electoral law enforcement may ultimately need to be remedied through the judicial system. Between these two extremes of the close-out time frame, Elections Canada must also administer the process of election expenses reimbursement and campaign reporting for political entities.

4.2.1 Payments to Election Workers

Approximately 170,000 payments were made to advance poll and election day workers following the election. Delivery was efficient, with 93percent of the payments processed within 9 days after election day, compared with the 88 percent of payments processed within 10 days of the 2004 election. Payments were issued every two weeks to returning office staff across the country. Some 81percent of workers opted for direct deposit to their bank accounts (compared with 72 percent in 2004), helping to speed up the payment process.

Elections Canada has a payment inquiry line to respond to questions from election workers. From February 2006 through the end of March2006, we received 20,500calls, with a daily average answer rate of 93percent (compared with 83percent after the 2004election). When callers indicate a potential payment problem, a request is recorded in our call-tracking system. A total of 160 requests were still active two months after election day (compared with 817 in 2004). The following payment chart shows the cumulative daily number of workers who received payment within four weeks of election day.

Figure 4.3 Cumulative Payments After Polling Day

Figure 4.3 Cumulative Payments After Polling Day

4.2.2 Shutting Down Offices

Before shutting down their offices, ROs must capture all payment data in a customized application called the Returning Office Payment System (ROPS) and all polling day registrant data in the REVISE application. They must also validate the results, participate in judicial recounts (if any), pack up all their materials and computer equipment, return furniture and equipment to suppliers, arrange for the phones to be disconnected and arrange for their mail to be redirected to their home address. Additional assistant returning officers, who manage satellite offices, carry out similar tasks.

Elections Canada contracts with the Canada Post Corporation to pick up the tonnes of election materials and deliver them to our central distribution centre in Ottawa, where they will be sorted and archived as required. IBM Canada also contracts with Canada Post to pick up computer equipment from each returning office across Canada and deliver it to its Markham distribution centre for storage.

4.2.3 Returning Officer Evaluations

As in the previous two elections, Elections Canada conducted performance evaluations of ROs during the 39th general election. Shortly after election day, field liaison officers (FLOs) met with their ROs to complete the evaluation grid. ROs were asked to sign this to acknowledge their participation in the process. The evaluation grids were then sent to Elections Canada for completion, after which FLOs reviewed them once more to comment on any discrepancies between their evaluations and those of the agency.

Elections Canada is currently consolidating the data gathered for the 36 indicators tracked in the evaluation grid. Senior management will review the results in early May 2006, and then they will be mailed to the ROs. An appeal process provides an opportunity for ROs to explain any disagreement they may have with their evaluations.

4.2.4 Electoral Law Enforcement

As of April5,2006, a total of 329 complaints had been received by the Commissioner of Canada Elections related to the 39th general election. Of these, 231 cases have been resolved to date, while the other 98 remain open.

One charge has been laid against an individual for contravening paragraph 5(a) of the Canada Elections Act, thereby committing an offence under paragraph 483(a). Paragraph5(a) states that no person may vote or attempt to vote at an election knowing that he or she is not a qualified elector. To be qualified, an elector must be a Canadian citizen 18years of age or older on polling day.

On December5,2005, the Commissioner of Canada Elections dealt summarily with the appearance of an ad on eBay that offered a Canadian vote for sale during the election. At the request of the Commissioner, the ad was removed by eBay on December6,2005. No sale had taken place. Since then, eBay has put in place a permanent filter that will search all eBay.ca listings, no matter the origin, to prevent any attempt at such a transaction from occurring again.

Additional complaints may be filed following the deadline for submitting candidates' and third parties' financial returns, four months after election day. As cases progress, updated statistics on complaints, compliance agreements and prosecutions appear in the Chief Electoral Officer's periodic reports and publications.

4.2.5 Reimbursements and Election Expenses

All candidates are entitled to a refund of the $1,000 nomination deposit if they comply with the Canada Elections Act's reporting requirements. They must return all unused official income tax receipts within one month after election day and submit a campaign financial return within four months of the election. Candidates who are elected or receive at least 10percent of the valid votes cast in their electoral districts are entitled to a 60percent reimbursement of their combined paid election and personal expenses, to a maximum of 60percent of the election expenses limit in that riding. Additionally, candidates receive a subsidy to cover audit fees, equal to the greater of $250 or 3percent of their election expenses to a maximum of $1,500. Registered political parties that obtain at least 2percent of the total valid votes cast in the election, or 5percent of the valid votes cast in the ridings where they endorse candidates, are entitled to a 50percent reimbursement of their paid election expenses.

Within three weeks of election day, Elections Canada issued the initial reimbursement payments for election expenses to the 884 candidates who were elected or who received 10 percent or more of the valid votes cast in their ridings; these constituted about 54percent of all candidates. The average reimbursement was $12,158.22, and the total amount reimbursed was $10,747,869.59.

Final reimbursements and audit subsidy payments are made after receipt of the candidates' electoral campaign returns (due no later than May23,2006, unless an extension is granted) and after the Chief Electoral Officer is satisfied (as required by section 465 of the Canada Elections Act) that the candidate and his or her official agent have complied with specific sections of the Act.

Table 4.4 Number of Candidates Eligible for Reimbursement
39th General Election, 2006

Province or Territory Candidates Eligible for Reimbursement
Newfoundland and Labrador
18
Prince Edward Island
10
Nova Scotia
33
New Brunswick
30
Quebec
213
Ontario
308
Manitoba
43
Saskatchewan
43
Alberta
68
British Columbia
109
Yukon
3
Northwest Territories
3
Nunavut
3
Total Candidates Eligible
884
Total Candidates at 39th GE
1,636*
Portion Eligible
54.03%

* Two candidates withdrew after confirmation, leaving 1,634 active candidates. However, under the election financing rules, candidates who withdraw after the deadline are subject to all reporting requirements and are included in candidate statistics.

4.2.6 Reporting

The election financing reforms to the Canada Elections Act that came into force on January1,2004, introduced new reporting requirements for registered electoral district associations (EDAs) and nomination contestants. They add to the existing reporting requirements for registered political parties, candidates and third parties.

In February, March and April of 2006, Elections Canada held training sessions for financial agents of registered EDAs and official agents of candidates, aimed primarily at demonstrating how to prepare their returns using our Electronic Financial Return (EFR) software. A total of 40 sessions were held in major centres across the country.

Attendance at these sessions is summarized in Table 4.5.

Table 4.5 Electoral District Association Financial Training Sessions (2006)

Political Affiliation Attendees
Animal Alliance Environment Voters Party of Canada
8
Bloc Québécois
34
Canadian Action Party
5
Christian Heritage Party of Canada
4
Conservative Party of Canada
173
Green Party of Canada
65
Liberal Party of Canada
131
Marxist-Leninist Party of Canada
2
New Democratic Party
72
Progressive Canadian Party
3
Independent/No affiliation
56
Total
553

The objectives of the sessions were to help participants understand the obligations of an official agent of a candidate or a financial agent of a registered EDA. Presenters demonstrated how to complete the reporting requirements using the EFR. Based on evaluation forms from attendees, the sessions were very well received. Highlights of the evaluations included the following: 96 percent of survey respondents indicated that the sessions met the objectives; 97 percent were satisfied with support given by Elections Canada, with 87 percent stipulating that service was very good to excellent; and 94percent indicated that they now plan to use the EFR software.

Financial Returns
Candidates

Candidates, through their official agents, must submit audited returns to the Chief Electoral Officer within four months after election day – May23,2006. Candidates' returns must show all electoral campaign expenses incurred, the amounts and sources of all contributions, loans and transfers, and the names and addresses of those who contributed more than $200.

Following the deadline for submitting these returns, the Chief Electoral Officer will publish a summary of the returns at www.elections.ca. Each RO must also make a copy of the returns for that riding available locally, for sixmonths, to allow any member of the public to consult them or obtain extracts. After this period, the returns can be examined through Elections Canada in Ottawa. A database available through our Web site contains all contribution and expense information reported by candidates for each election since 1997.

Registered Parties and Nomination Contestants

Within six months of election day, every registered political party must submit to the Chief Electoral Officer an audited return of its election expenses. Returns for the 39thgeneral election are due no later than midnight, July23,2006.

Within 30 days of a contest being held to select a candidate for a registered party, the party or its registered EDA must submit a report to the Chief Electoral Officer. Elections Canada has received 651 reports related to the 39thgeneral election, naming 959nomination contestants.

A nomination contestant whose campaign contributions or expenses are $1,000 or more must submit a return to the Chief Electoral Officer, along with an auditor's report if either of these amounts is $10,000 or more. The deadline for this return is four months from the selection date, except when this date falls during or within 30 days preceding a local election period. In that case, the nomination return may be submitted together with the candidate's election campaign return.

Third-party Election Advertising Returns

As described in section 3.5.1, Third-party Election Advertising, 80 third parties registered with Elections Canada for the 39th general election. Each is required to submit a financial report disclosing election advertising expenses, and the related funding sources, no later than midnight, May23,2006.

4.3 What We Learned

Elections Canada is committed to continuous assessment and improvement of our operations. At no time is this more evident than following a general election, when the agency's primary reason for being has been put to a crucial test. While the full evaluation of our performance in the 39th general election will take more time to complete, some lessons learned have been included in this report. The results of further post-election analyses will be provided in subsequent reports as they become available.

4.3.1 Post-election Evaluation Studies

Estimate of Voter Turnout by Age Group

Following the 38th general election, Elections Canada carried out a study of voting behaviours by age group (see section 1.1.1, Post-election Evaluation Studies). Information was gathered on all who voted at advance polls and by special ballot, and on those who registered to vote on election day. In addition, the names of electors who voted on polling day at a selected sample of polling stations were collected. This information was combined with the electors' dates of birth from the National Register of Electors for an accurate estimate of turnout by age group. We will repeat this study for the 39thgeneral election.

Elections Canada Survey of Electors at the 39th General Election

Between January 26 and February16,2006, Elections Canada conducted a survey of public opinions, attitudes and knowledge of our services and various aspects of the electoral process, including individuals' experience of the election.

The survey consisted of 20-minute telephone interviews with 3,013 Canadian residents 18years of age or older, including an over-sample of 502 Aboriginal respondents and 500young people aged 18 to 24. The questionnaire for the 2006 election built on the one used in 2004, but it was refined to achieve greater insight into several aspects of the electoral process.11

The resulting survey included questions on registration and the voter information card, the reminder card and the Voter Information Service, the experience of and satisfaction with the electoral process, reasons why non-voters did not vote, Elections Canada's advertising campaign and attitudes toward elections and politics. There was also a new section focusing on Aboriginal and young electors.

The full analysis of Elections Canada's survey of electors, anticipated later this year, will be published at www.elections.ca.

Preliminary Findings from the 2006 General Survey of Electors
  • 89 percent of respondents said they received their voter information cards.
  • Of the respondents who received a voter information card, 96 percent did not report any error in their personal information, such as registration status, name or address.
  • 52 percent of respondents recalled seeing or hearing a non-partisan ad encouraging people to vote. In addition, 81percent remembered having seen or heard information on advance voting, 47percent on how to register and vote, and 31percent on voting by mail.
  • 70 percent of the respondents remembered having seen or heard the slogan "Why not speak up when everyone is listening?" (79 percent on TV and 15 percent on the radio).
  • 55percent said that they liked the Elections Canada advertisements a lot or somewhat, 36percent had no opinion and 8 percent had a negative reaction.
  • 9 out of 10 respondents thought that the voting procedures were very easy.
  • 97 percent of voters said that the distance they had to travel to reach the polling station was convenient; 98 percent did not have any difficulty finding the polling station.
  • 97 percent were satisfied with the information provided on how to cast a ballot.
  • More than 99 percent were satisfied with the language spoken at the polling station (slightly less than 98 percent among Aboriginal respondents).
  • Among non-voters, 59percent said they did not vote partly because they had lost interest in politics; 51percent did not vote partly because they did not like any of the candidates; 43 percent indicated they lacked time to vote; and 48 percent said that something happened to prevent them from going to the polls (mostly related to work, school or family).
  • The least frequent reasons for non-voting were the fact that the vote did not matter (26percent), the lack of information on where and when to vote (25 percent) and not being registered on the list of electors (24 percent).
2006 Canadian Election Study

The Canadian Election Study (CES) is an academic study that has been conducted on every federal general election since 1965 (except for 1972). The four studies since 1997 have all been carried out in partnership with Elections Canada. The CES consists of two successive surveys with the same respondents – one during the campaign period, the other after the election. Of the over 4,000 respondents in the 2006 study, half were taken from the sample used at the 2004 general election.

The 2006 survey asked 31 questions on the following themes:

The results of the CES are expected later in 2006.

Evaluation of Outreach Activities

Elections Canada has undertaken a number of initiatives to assess the effectiveness of its activities aimed at better serving youth, Aboriginal peoples, ethnocultural communities and persons with special needs.

Based on the results of these investigations, Elections Canada plans to commission further research and consultations to refine our outreach programs.

Returning Officers' Reports of Proceedings

Under section 314 of the Canada Elections Act, every RO must report to the Chief Electoral Officer soon after the return of the writ on the conduct of the election in his or her riding. These reports are analyzed by Elections Canada, and the conclusions are used as a starting point in preparing for the next election.

Community Relations Officer Evaluations
Aboriginal Elder and Youth Questionnaire

Elections Canada prepared a questionnaire for participants in the Aboriginal Elder and Youth Program (AEYP). (Please see section 3.3.1, Informing Electors, for details of the program.) ROs reported that the program had a positive effect. However, less than 50percent of AEYP participants responded to the questionnaire; therefore, the highlights below may not be representative of all AEYP experiences.

Field Liaison Officer Program Evaluation

After the election, all 2712 field liaison officers (FLOs) received a questionnaire to evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of the Field Liaison Officer Program. FLOs were also invited to an evaluation session in Ottawa from March 20 to24,2006. Following are the highlights of their responses, as well as the results of internal evaluations by the program team:

Media Relations

A total of 4,017 calls were handled by the media relations team during the 39th general election. These included inquiries from print, broadcast and Web media, as well as journalists representing Aboriginal, ethnocultural and student media. Overall, the team was able to meet the majority of journalists' requests effectively. To create a more efficient media relations system for the 40th general election, improvements will be undertaken in the following areas:

The experience of the 39th general election underscores the importance of having a team of knowledgeable and well-trained media officers in place and with the resources and tools necessary to communicate electoral information to the public.

4.3.2 Official Languages

All election officers were trained in their responsibility to provide service in both official languages during the election. As usual, ROs were instructed to recruit bilingual workers or, in areas where this was difficult, to provide unilingual election workers with descriptive cards explaining to electors how to obtain service in either official language. Elections Canada made all of its election-related information available in both English and French, and it provided fully bilingual services through a toll-free 1-800 number and our Web site.

Early in the election period, staff of Elections Canada and the Office of the Commissioner of Official Languages (OCOL) established procedures for responding to language complaints within 24 hours. During the election, the Commissioner received 19formal complaints, compared with 45 during the 2004 election. Given that over 180,000election officers across Canada were interacting with up to 23 million electors over a 55-day period, we were encouraged by the small number of complaints, and we are confident that our hiring, training and awareness measures were largely successful. Nevertheless, we will continue our efforts to significantly reduce such complaints in the future.

The OCOL is currently completing its analysis of all the complaints before sending a final report to Elections Canada.

4.4 Preparations for the 40th General Election

The general election of January23,2006, returned another minority federal government in Canada (the first back-to-back minority governments in more than 40 years). This rare event determines Elections Canada's priorities for the coming months and will significantly affect how we deploy our resources. Once again, we must quickly prepare to deliver another general election – possibly as early as 2006 or 2007 – while still finalizing the tasks of the last election.

Immediately after the 39th general election, we reviewed each of our business lines and established critical paths for election preparations. The Chief Electoral Officer has approved restarting the replenishment of supplies and the necessary staffing plans. Briefly noted below are some of the more critical preparations in the areas of operations, election financing and information technology.

4.4.1 Operational Matters

Materials Inventory and Replenishment

We have undertaken the procurement and stockpiling of election materials to maintain the quantities needed for delivering an election. As well, the sorting of returned election materials and reusable supplies from the 308 electoral districts following the 39th general election is expected to continue into the first few months of the 2006–2007 fiscal year.

Telephony Services

We will review the agreements with our telephony and technical infrastructure service providers to improve the deployment of the necessary equipment and services in each electoral district.

4.4.2 Political Financing

Preparation for the 40th general election will require extensive planning and resource management because most resources will be committed to receiving, processing, reviewing and publishing the 2006 election candidate returns and the 2005electoral district association annual returns. Both of these are due within one week of each other – May 23 and May 31, respectively.

In preparing for the 40th general election, we have applied annual adjustments to the various contribution and spending limits, and we have made this information available at www.elections.ca to ensure that all political entities are duly informed before the next general election.

Contribution Limit Updates

The limits on political contributions are adjusted before April 1 each year to factor in inflation figures published by Statistics Canada. Elections Canada published the following contribution limits in the Canada Gazette on March18,2006:

Updates to Political Entity Electronic Kits

Elections Canada maintains a number of tools and guidance materials to assist political entities in complying with the finance provisions of the Canada Elections Act. Based on comments and experience from the 39th general election, the Political Entity Electronic Kit was redesigned and includes a new version of the Electronic Financial Return software application.

All tools and guidance materials will be inventoried for election readiness in electronic format (CD-ROM or DVD). These materials are also available at www.elections.ca.

4.4.3 Systems and Information Technology

During the 39th general election, Elections Canada identified several minor improvements necessary to our field systems – REVISE (the computer application used to revise the lists of electors), the Event Results System (which tabulates and transmits voting results) and the Returning Office Payments System. The changes will be made and the systems will undergo testing before the fall of 2006. Key contracts with our field hardware and Internet service providers will be amended as necessary to facilitate the next election.

We are also determining the near- and long-term upgrade needs for ROs' home computers and our returning office computers. We began seeking competitive bids for replacing this aging hardware before the 39th general election; however, the November 2005 election call placed this initiative on hold. In restarting the process, we must consider whether to retain our current information technology architecture or move to a completely new one. It is our objective, where possible, to accommodate the agency's vision of a fully centralized computer system within this hardware upgrade initiative.

One option that Elections Canada will explore is the use of wireless telecommunication technologies to meet the demanding infrastructure requirements for conducting an election. This could alleviate the recurrence of delays and other problems encountered in both the 38th and 39th general elections, when some ROs had trouble locating, on short notice, temporary offices that met our telecommunications requirements.

4.4.4 Voter Registration Review

Elections Canada is continuing the strategic review of voter registration processes in the wake of the 39th general election. The review has two main objectives:

  1. To further improve the quality of the lists of electors and voter registration services to meet elector and stakeholder needs.
  2. To increase the participation and support of stakeholders, such as political parties, members of Parliament, senators, and provincial and territorial chief electoral officers, by actively involving them in the review and in our ongoing efforts.

Following a parallel track with preparations for the 40th general election, the registration review will be conducted in collaboration with all stakeholders. The review will help to refine our vision of how voter registration should take place for federal elections in Canada and to devise an implementation strategy.

4.5 Conclusion

The coming year presents Elections Canada with a rare challenge. On one hand, we have to intensify our readiness for a potential general election; yet at the same time, we cannot delay implementing changes that could make the electoral process more accessible and efficient for Canadian electors.

The agency will focus mainly on achieving and maintaining full readiness in the context of a minority government. Although this context does not permit us to launch a full review of our strategic plan, we will, nonetheless, identify the main elements of a new corporate tactical plan for the next planning cycle. These elements are expected to flow from the evaluations carried out after the 39th general election.


10 This is the date on which the Chief Electoral Officer submitted this statutory report on the administration of the election and activities of his Office since the previous election. Section 536 of the Canada Elections Act requires the Speaker to forward this report to the House of Commons without delay.

11 The margin of error for the general population sample of 2,011 is 2.2 percent, 19 times out of 20. The margin of error for Aboriginal respondents (national sample and over-sample combined) is 3.8 percent, and 3.7 percent for the youth component (national sample and over-sample combined).

12 One of the 28 FLOs resigned during the election and was replaced by a backup.