Report of the Chief Electoral Officer of Canada Following the June 30, 2014, By-elections Held in Fort McMurray–Athabasca, Macleod, Scarborough–Agincourt and Trinity–Spadina and the November 17, 2014, By-elections Held in Whitby–Oshawa and Yellowhead
2. The 2014 By-elections
2.1 Launch of the By-elections
Issue of the writs
The by-elections held in 2014 were called to replace six members of Parliament:
- Brian Jean, Conservative Party of Canada Member of Parliament for Fort McMurray–Athabasca (Alberta) since June 28, 2004, who resigned on January 17, 2014
- the Honourable Ted Menzies, Conservative Party of Canada Member of Parliament for Macleod (Alberta) since June 28, 2004, who resigned on November 9, 2013
- the Honourable Jim Karygiannis, Liberal Party of Canada Member of Parliament for Scarborough–Agincourt (Ontario) since November 21, 1988, who resigned on April 2, 2014
- Olivia Chow, New Democratic Party Member of Parliament for Trinity–Spadina (Ontario) since January 23, 2006, who resigned on March 13, 2014
- the Honourable Jim Flaherty, Conservative Party of Canada Member of Parliament for Whitby–Oshawa (Ontario) since January 23, 2006, who passed away on April 10, 2014
- the Honourable Rob Merrifield, Conservative Party of Canada Member of Parliament for Yellowhead (Alberta) since November 27, 2000, who resigned on September 17, 2014
The writs for the by-elections in Fort McMurray–Athabasca, Macleod, Scarborough–Agincourt and Trinity–Spadina were dated May 11, 2014, and the date for the by-elections was set as June 30, 2014. The writs for the by-elections in Whitby–Oshawa and Yellowhead were dated October 12, 2014, and the date for the by-elections was set as November 17, 2014.
House of Commons seat distribution
The table below summarizes the seat distribution in the House of Commons when the writs were issued.
|Seat distribution||Fort McMurray–Athabasca, Macleod, Scarborough–Agincourt, Trinity–Spadina (May 11, 2014)||Whitby–Oshawa, Yellowhead (October 12, 2014)|
|Conservative Party of Canada||160||161|
|New Democratic Party||99||97|
|Liberal Party of Canada||35||37|
|Green Party of Canada||2||2|
*The Honourable Jim Flaherty's seat was vacated following his death in April, and the by-election for his riding of Whitby–Oshawa was called on October 12.
Local Elections Canada offices
Under the Act, returning officers must open offices without delay after the writs are issued. The Chief Electoral Officer mandated all six returning officers to prepare for the by-elections by researching suitable and accessible office space and polling sites and by identifying potential printing services as well as furniture and equipment suppliers.
For the by-elections in Fort McMurray–Athabasca, Macleod, Scarborough–Agincourt and Trinity–Spadina, the election calendar was 50 days. Returning officers opened four local offices and three satellite offices on May 16, 2014. In the electoral district of Fort McMurray–Athabasca, satellite offices were located in Athabasca and Slave Lake. In the electoral district of Macleod, the satellite office was located in Pincher Creek.
For the by-elections in Whitby–Oshawa and Yellowhead, the election calendar was 36 days. Returning officers opened two local offices on October 12, 2014. In the electoral district of Yellowhead, two satellite offices were opened in Whitecourt and Drayton Valley on October 15, 2014.
For the six by-elections, returning officers set up 91 advance polling stations as well as 1,430 stationary polling stations and 46 mobile polling stations on election day. These were located at 91 advance polling sites and 500 ordinary polling sites. The 46 mobile polling stations visited a total of 98 sites on election day. Tables 1 and 2 in the Appendix list the types of polling sites and polling stations used in these by-elections, while Table 3 compares the types of polling sites used to those used in the 41st general election. All polling sites met Elections Canada's accessibility criteria.
Election administrators and officers
Recruiting election officers
During an electoral event, many election officer positions become available to Canadians. Each position has its own set of principal tasks and qualifications, as well as a minimum set of competencies. The available election officer positions include deputy returning officers, poll clerks, information officers, registration officers and central poll supervisors.
To fill election officer positions, returning officers turned to:
- names of potential election officers provided by candidates of the registered political parties whose candidates finished first or second in the last election; however, candidates in only two of six electoral districts submitted names (10 in Fort McMurray–Athabasca and 20 in Whitby–Oshawa)
- 3,066 online applications submitted through the Elections Canada website
- names of election officers from previous elections
To improve the recruitment process, Elections Canada featured an online application form on the Employment section of its website for election officers to work on polling days. Elections Canada forwarded the names of all people who had applied for positions in those ridings since October 2013 to the returning officers. Posters were also displayed in local Elections Canada offices.
Additional recruitment measures were undertaken in the electoral districts as follows:
- Fort McMurray–Athabasca and Macleod:
- "Looking for work?" web banner ads ran on Facebook and the Google Network in both ridings
- a human resources employee from headquarters was deployed for one week to help the returning officer with recruitment efforts
- an "Apply" button was added to the by-election page on the Elections Canada website to promote election day employment opportunities
- the returning officer set up tables in a Toronto subway station to promote employment opportunities
- the Chief Electoral Officer approved a request to hire workers from outside the electoral district
- a message was sent to about 50 communities and organizations in the electoral district and the regions of Drayton Valley and Whitecourt to promote employment opportunities in the district
All returning officers recruited and trained a sufficient number of election officers. The numbers of election officer positions filled for the by-elections, including individuals on standby to act as replacements if needed, were:
- Fort McMurray–Athabasca – 415
- Macleod – 586
- Scarborough–Agincourt – 615
- Trinity–Spadina – 894
- Whitby–Oshawa – 706
- Yellowhead – 664
Resources available to election administrators
The following resources were available to election administrators during the by-elections:
- Elections Canada Support Network – Advisors at Elections Canada assisted election administrators, including returning officers, in local Elections Canada offices with day-to-day administration, acting as the first point of contact during regular business hours.
- Field liaison officers – Experienced election practitioners provided support and guidance to returning officers, kept Elections Canada informed about the by-elections at the local level and helped with media relations as required. Field liaison officers were available around the clock and had an open dialogue with returning officers.
- Subject matter experts – Experts at Elections Canada gave returning officers personalized assistance in unusual or unforeseen situations – after hours, on call or as a result of a direct escalation from an Elections Canada Support Network agent during regular business hours.
New training for election administrators
The 2014 by-elections provided an opportunity to pilot new training processes and materials in preparation for the 2015 general election. Some of the innovations that were tested included the following:
- Macleod and Trinity–Spadina – A new registration officer guidebook and a new three-hour in-class training curriculum were tested. The new guidebook format was very well received and similar guidebooks will be made available to all poll officials in the 2015 general election.
- Whitby–Oshawa and Yellowhead – Elections Canada provided a laptop, projector and presentation software to training officers to automate the delivery of training. The delivery method and content worked well and will be used for the 2015 general election for all election officers. Hands-on exercises were expanded for deputy returning officers and poll clerks. Information officers and registration officers were trained together in one classroom session. This worked well and will be adopted for the 2015 general election.
2.2 Working with Political Entities
Candidates and registered political parties
When the writs were issued for the by-elections in Fort McMurray–Athabasca, Macleod, Scarborough–Agincourt and Trinity–Spadina, 17 political parties were registered. Prospective candidates had until 2:00 p.m. on June 9, 2014, to file their nomination papers in accordance with the date published by the returning officer in the Notice of Election. None of the candidates withdrew during the period in which this was permitted.
In Fort McMurray–Athabasca, five registered parties nominated candidates: the Conservative Party of Canada, the Green Party of Canada, the Liberal Party of Canada, the Libertarian Party of Canada and the New Democratic Party. There were no independent candidates.
In Macleod, five registered parties nominated candidates: the Christian Heritage Party of Canada, the Conservative Party of Canada, the Green Party of Canada, the Liberal Party of Canada and the New Democratic Party. There were no independent candidates.
In Scarborough–Agincourt, four registered parties nominated candidates: the Conservative Party of Canada, the Green Party of Canada, the Liberal Party of Canada and the New Democratic Party. There was one independent candidate.
In Trinity–Spadina, five registered parties nominated candidates: the Christian Heritage Party of Canada, the Conservative Party of Canada, the Green Party of Canada, the Liberal Party of Canada and the New Democratic Party. There was one independent candidate.
When the writs were issued for the by-elections in Whitby–Oshawa and Yellowhead, 18 political parties were registered. The Seniors Party of Canada was eligible at the issue of the writs for the November by-elections in Whitby–Oshawa and Yellowhead but did not field any candidates. Prospective candidates had until 2:00 p.m. on October 27, 2014, to file their nomination papers. None of the candidates withdrew during the period in which this was permitted.
In Whitby–Oshawa, four registered parties nominated candidates: the Conservative Party of Canada, the Green Party of Canada, the Liberal Party of Canada and the New Democratic Party. There were two independent candidates.
In Yellowhead, four registered parties nominated candidates: the Conservative Party of Canada, the Liberal Party of Canada, the Libertarian Party of Canada and the New Democratic Party. There was one independent candidate.
Communications and information sessions
Elections Canada provided documentation to candidates, their official agents and auditors for the 2014 by-elections. Topics included general information for auditors, candidates and official agents; political financing rules; and expenses limits for candidates and registered parties. Multimedia kits, including handbooks and tutorials, were provided to all official agents.
Returning officers typically hold meetings with confirmed candidates and their representatives after the last nominations are confirmed on the 19th day before election day. Returning officers for the by-elections in Fort McMurray–Athabasca, Macleod, Scarborough–Agincourt and Trinity–Spadina held meetings with confirmed candidates on June 13, 2014. For the by-elections in Whitby–Oshawa and Yellowhead, returning officers held meetings on October 31, 2014.
The meetings covered a variety of topics, such as the role of candidates' representatives at the polls, rules for displaying or posting campaign literature, notices (e.g. notice of grant of a poll), lists of electors and the revision process, the appointment of poll officials, accessibility at the polls, services to electors, the procedure to follow on election day, election night results and the validation of results. Returning officers responded to any specific questions asked by candidates or their representatives.
Election expenses limits
The Act sets separate limits on the election expenses of candidates and registered political parties. The election expenses limit for candidates is based on several factors, including the number of names appearing on either the preliminary or the revised lists of electors for an electoral district, whichever yields the higher limit. The election expenses limit for political parties is based partly on the number of names on the lists of electors for all electoral districts in which the party has endorsed a candidate and partly on the number of candidates endorsed in an election.
For the by-elections in Fort McMurray–Athabasca, Macleod, Scarborough–Agincourt and Trinity–Spadina, the candidates' election expenses limit ranged from $91,230.05 in Scarborough–Agincourt to $120,935.27 in Fort McMurray–Athabasca, for an average of $110,242.66. The election expenses limit for political parties ranged from $78,688.78 to $336,996.67 for a party that endorsed a candidate in all four by-elections.
The candidates' election expenses limit was $114,652.17 for the Whitby–Oshawa by-election and $116,479.41 for the Yellowhead by-election. The election expenses limit for political parties ranged from $73,890.15 to $176,589.01 for a party that endorsed a candidate in both by-elections.
Third party election advertising
A third party is a person or group other than a candidate, registered party or electoral district association of a registered party. The Act requires any third party conducting election advertising during an election to identify itself in the advertisement and indicate that it has authorized the advertising.
The Act also sets limits on the amount that a third party may incur in election advertising expenses, and third parties that incur expenses of $500 or more must register with Elections Canada. They must also produce an election advertising report within four months after election day.
Three third parties were registered for the by-elections in Fort McMurray–Athabasca, Macleod, Scarborough–Agincourt and Trinity–Spadina, and one third party was registered for the by-elections in Whitby–Oshawa and Yellowhead. The third party election advertising limit for the 2014 by-elections was $4,038 per electoral district. All third parties produced election advertising reports for the June by-elections, although two parties submitted the report after the deadline. The reports for the November by-elections, which are due March 17, 2015, have not yet been submitted.
2.3 Communicating with Canadians
Each time a by-election gets underway, Elections Canada launches a multi-channel campaign to inform electors how, when and where to register and vote. For the 2014 by-elections, these campaigns included sending direct mail to electors, launching an advertising campaign and deploying community relations officers in the field. All communication channels directed electors to Elections Canada's website and toll-free phone numbers for more information.
As required by the Act, a voter information card (VIC) is mailed to all registered electors (electors whose names appear on the preliminary lists of electors). A VIC confirms an elector's registration and gives information about where and when to vote. For the 2014 by-elections, Elections Canada mailed 552,844 VICs.
Elections Canada adapted the Act to allow returning officers to delay mailing VICs in Ontario by-elections by several days, so electors would not be confused by federal VICs arriving before provincial or municipal voting days. The VICs for the Trinity–Spadina by-election were mailed on June 12 and 13, 2014, to prevent confusion with the provincial election also being held during this time. Similarly, the VICs for the November by-election in Whitby–Oshawa were mailed on October 27, 2014, to prevent confusion with the municipal elections being held in that district.
The "Are You Ready to Vote?" brochure is also mailed to all households, and approximately 292,592 bilingual brochures were sent to households in the six electoral districts in the weeks leading up to the by-elections. Along with providing important dates and deadlines, the brochure gives the full list of authorized pieces of identification that electors can use to prove their identity and address. This brochure prompts electors to contact Elections Canada if they did not receive their VIC or if the one they received contained errors in their name or address.
Elections Canada's advertising campaign for the 2014 by-elections focused on the following topics:
- the dates of the by-elections and advance polls
- eligibility and identification requirements
- voting options
- the VIC as an important source of information
- Elections Canada as the overall source of voting information
The advertising was deployed in three phases during the election period, tailored to each electoral district:
- registration – encouraged electors to check, update or complete their voter registration online
- VIC – notified electors that they should have received a VIC, which provides information on when and where to vote on election day or in advance, and underlined identification requirements
- election day – notified electors that they should have received a VIC, and gave options for voting and registration if they did not receive a VIC
The campaign included print, radio and online advertising, also targeted to each electoral district. Web banner ads were used for the first time during these by-elections.
In Fort McMurray–Athabasca and Macleod, web banner ads promoted online registration, and print and radio ads focused on the VIC and election day phases. Print ads also appeared in Aboriginal publications, and radio ads on Aboriginal radio stations.
In Scarborough–Agincourt and Trinity–Spadina, print and radio ads appeared for the VIC and election day phases. Web banner ads focused on the VIC, advance polls and election day. Print ads appeared in Chinese and Portuguese newspapers for election day, and radio ads on Chinese and Portuguese stations for election day.
In Whitby–Oshawa, print ads appeared for the registration, VIC and election day phases; radio ads for the VIC and election day phases; and web banners for online registration, the VIC, advance polls and election day. Print ads also appeared in Chinese for the registration, VIC and election day phases; and radio ads appeared in Chinese for the election day phase.
In Yellowhead, print ads appeared for the registration, VIC and election day phases; radio ads for the VIC and election day phases; and web banners for online registration, the VIC, advance polls and election day. Print ads also appeared in Aboriginal publications, and radio ads on Aboriginal radio stations.
Elections Canada spokespeople responded to 61 calls from the media, reached out to media on five occasions – primarily in support of election worker recruitment and the move of a polling location – and did three interviews. Elections Canada issued 27 news releases related to the by-elections.
Community relations officers
Elections Canada takes special measures to provide information to groups likely to experience difficulty in exercising their right to vote or those not easily reached through mainstream advertising campaigns. Target groups may include youth, ethnocultural communities, homeless electors, Aboriginal electors, and seniors living in residences and long-term care facilities.
For the 2014 by-elections, returning officers hired 21 community relations officers to communicate with electors in target groups. Table 4 in the Appendix lists the number of officers hired, by electoral district and target group.
Community relations officers provided these electors with information about how, when and where to vote, and they used a variety of channels (e.g. information kiosks, presentations, discussion groups and information materials). The key messages drew electors' attention to the voting dates and different voting options, and promoted Elections Canada as the official source of voting information.
Website and public enquiries
Elections Canada uses the VIC, brochures and advertising to inform electors about elections. Electors can also obtain information themselves about registration, voting procedures, polling sites and other common topics from local Elections Canada offices, by calling the national and local office toll-free numbers, from the Elections Canada website and by e-mail.
Bilingual staff in the Public Enquiries Unit responded to a total of 1,801 calls to the national toll-free number originating from the electoral districts during the election periods, and local offices responded to a total of 40,251 calls. Table 5 in the Appendix lists the number of calls by electoral district.
Elections Canada's online Voter Information Service, which electors can use to determine their electoral district and polling site, received 43,351 visits during the by-election periods. There were an additional 20,815 visits to individual by-election web pages during the by-election periods. On election night, results were posted on the website as they became available. The election night results web application received 18,223 visits for the June by-elections and 14,908 visits for the November by-elections.
Online complaints received by the Chief Electoral Officer
Electors are able to submit complaints through the Elections Canada website. These are reported separately from accessibility complaints (see below) and complaints about offences under the Act, which are forwarded to the Commissioner of Canada Elections.
During the June by-election period, Elections Canada received 34 online complaints from the electoral districts:
- Fort McMurray–Athabasca – 2
- Macleod – 2
- Scarborough–Agincourt – 4
- Trinity–Spadina – 25
The most common complaints related to service at advance and election day polls, and voter identification requirements.
During the November by-election period, Elections Canada received seven complaints from the Whitby–Oshawa electoral district and none from Yellowhead. The most common complaints related to service at advance polls. One complaint related to the complaint process itself and the lack of a timely response.
2.4 Conducting the By-elections
The Chief Electoral Officer may adapt the Act under subsection 17(1) to address an emergency, an unusual or unforeseen circumstance or an error. Table 6 in the Appendix describes the adaptations of the Act pursuant to subsection 17(1) that were made during the 2014 by-elections.
In addition, section 179 of the Special Voting Rules as Adapted for the Purposes of a By-election permits the Chief Electoral Officer to issue instructions for the purpose of adapting any provision of the Special Voting Rules (SVR) set out in Part 11 (sections 177 to 282) of the Act in order to execute the intent of the SVR in respect of a particular circumstance. No new adaptations were established under section 179 during the 2014 by-elections.
Registration of electors
Lists of electors
Elections Canada maintains the National Register of Electors, a database of Canadians who are eligible to vote in federal elections. The Register is updated regularly with data provided under agreements with the Canada Revenue Agency, Citizenship and Immigration Canada, provincial and territorial electoral bodies, motor vehicle registrars and vital statistics registrars; and by electors themselves. The Register is also updated following revisions made during federal elections.
During the by-elections in Fort McMurray–Athabasca, Macleod, Scarborough–Agincourt and Trinity–Spadina, electors were able to use Elections Canada's online registration service (E-Registration) to check whether they were registered to vote. Users were directed to contact their local Elections Canada office if they needed to update their registration information or register for the first time.
For the by-elections in Whitby–Oshawa and Yellowhead, Elections Canada implemented additional features of E-Registration and launched a communications campaign that promoted online registration. Eligible electors residing in those electoral districts were able to confirm their registration, update their address or register themselves using the online registration service up until eight days before election day. There were 544 registered electors who confirmed their registration at their current address, 104 registered electors who changed their address, and 57 new electors who registered after confirming their elector qualifications.
When the by-elections were called, Elections Canada extracted information from the Register to produce preliminary lists of electors in the electoral districts. Elections Canada provided the preliminary lists to those political parties that requested them, and the returning officers provided the lists to candidates for their respective electoral district. Distribution of the preliminary lists of electors to candidates and parties began on May 14, 2014, for the by-elections in Fort McMurray–Athabasca, Macleod, Scarborough–Agincourt and Trinity–Spadina, and on October 17, 2014, for the by-elections in Whitby–Oshawa and Yellowhead.
Table 7 in the Appendix provides details about voter registration during the six by-elections. Following revision activities and polling day registrations, the number of electors on the final lists increased in each electoral district, with total increases ranging from a low of 189 in Whitby–Oshawa to a high of 3,510 in Trinity–Spadina.
As expected for by-elections, overall registration activity was lower compared to the 41st general election, with two exceptions. In Fort McMurray–Athabasca, the number of revisions through moves into and within the district increased, as did removals from the list. Macleod saw a significant number of removals of non-resident electors compared to the 41st general election.
Quality of the preliminary lists of electors
Many factors affect the quality of the lists, such as demographic growth and the mobility of the population, the availability of the data sources used to update the lists, the rates of consent to share information and the length of time between the date that a demographic change occurs and the dates that the information is provided to and processed by Elections Canada.
The quality of information on the preliminary lists of electors can be measured by three main indicators: coverage, currency and accuracy. "Coverage" represents the proportion of eligible electors on the lists relative to the total number of Canadian citizens aged 18 and over; the national coverage target is 92 percent. "Currency" represents the proportion of eligible electors on the lists and at the correct residential address relative to the total number of Canadian citizens aged 18 and over; the national currency target is 80 percent. "Accuracy" measures the proportion of registered electors listed at their correct residential address; the national accuracy target is 87 percent.
Table 8 in the Appendix lists the quality indicators for the preliminary lists in the six electoral districts.
Voting under the Special Voting Rules
Electors seeking alternatives to voting at advance or ordinary polls in their electoral district have the opportunity under the SVR to vote by mail or at a local Elections Canada office. Special ballot application forms and guides are widely available in Canada and throughout the world. Electors can also download the application form from the Elections Canada website after answering some basic questions to determine their eligibility.
Elections Canada issued a total of 3,965 special ballots for all by-elections. A total of 3,363 valid ballots were returned, 24 ballots were rejected and 7 ballots were returned late. Table 9 lists statistics for the ballots issued under the SVR and ballots received, by elector group and electoral district, for the 2014 by-elections. These groups are defined in the table and described in the sections below.
Electors living in Canada
Registration to vote by special ballot was available to electors living in Canada from May 11 to June 24, 2014, in Fort McMurray–Athabasca, Macleod, Scarborough–Agincourt and Trinity–Spadina, and from October 12 to November 11, 2014, in Whitby–Oshawa and Yellowhead.
Electors voting in their electoral district (local electors) were responsible for returning their completed ballot to the local Elections Canada office in their electoral district before the close of the polls in that electoral district on election day in order for their ballot to be counted. Electors temporarily away from their electoral district (national electors) were responsible for returning their completed ballot to Elections Canada in Ottawa no later than 6:00 p.m. (Eastern Time) on election day in order for their ballot to be counted.
Elections Canada made arrangements with the administrators of acute care facilities in all six electoral districts to ensure that eligible electors who were unexpectedly hospitalized could register and vote by special ballot by the prescribed deadlines. Registration and voting in acute care facilities took place on June 22, 23 and 24, 2014, in Fort McMurray–Athabasca, Macleod, Scarborough–Agincourt and Trinity–Spadina, and on November 9, 10 and 11, 2014, in Whitby–Oshawa and Yellowhead.
Elections Canada maintains a register of international electors – that is, Canadian citizens living outside the country who have applied to register and vote by special ballot. These persons are entitled to vote under the SVR.
The 2014 by-elections were conducted under new rules governing qualifications for Canadians residing abroad to vote by special ballot. Previously, Canadian citizens were entitled to vote under the SVR if they left Canada less than five years before applying to register. On May 2, 2014, the Ontario Superior Court of Justice invalidated the provisions of the Act that prevented non-resident electors from voting by special ballot in federal elections if the electors had resided abroad for five consecutive years or more. The decision was effective immediately and, accordingly, Elections Canada stopped applying the five-year limitation for the 2014 by-elections. In June 2014, the Ontario Court of Appeal denied the Attorney General's request for a stay pending its appeal of the decision.
At the beginning of the by-elections, a special ballot voting kit was mailed to international electors previously registered in the by-election ridings. Special ballot voting kits were also sent to international electors who registered from May 11 to June 24, 2014, for the by-elections in Fort McMurray–Athabasca, Macleod, Scarborough–Agincourt and Trinity–Spadina, and from October 12 to November 11, 2014, for the by-elections in Whitby–Oshawa and Yellowhead.
Canadians living abroad could also obtain information about voting by special ballot by contacting any of the diplomatic missions or consular posts of the Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development (DFATD) or by visiting the Elections Canada website. During the 2014 by-elections, DFATD assisted in returning application forms and special ballots of Canadian electors living or travelling outside Canada by the prescribed deadlines.
Canadian Forces electors
Canadian Forces electors, whether based in Canada or abroad, were informed of their voting rights by the Department of National Defence. Commanding officers displayed notices featuring a map of electoral districts where by-elections were being held as well as important deadlines. At the beginning of the by-elections, a special ballot voting kit was mailed to every Canadian Forces elector whose Statement of Ordinary Residence recorded an address located in each riding where a by-election was held.
Electors in correctional institutions
Elections Canada made arrangements with all Canadian correctional institutions to ensure that eligible electors who had a place of ordinary residence in an electoral district where a by-election was being held had an opportunity to register and vote by special ballot. Notices were posted in each correctional institution informing electors of the by-elections as well as the deadlines, and eligible electors were given the necessary materials and instructions to register. Special ballot voting kits were sent to incarcerated electors who registered from May 11 to June 24, 2014, for the by-elections in Fort McMurray–Athabasca, Macleod, Scarborough–Agincourt and Trinity–Spadina, and from October 12 to November 11, 2014, for the by-elections in Whitby–Oshawa and Yellowhead.
Voting in advance
Returning officers are required to set up advance polling stations to collect the votes of electors who cannot or do not wish to go to their ordinary polling stations on election day.
In all, 24,173 electors voted in advance during the six by-elections, or 17.9 percent of all voters. This compares to 14 percent of electors who cast votes at the advance polls in those ridings during the 41st general election.
A total of 17,389 electors (or 19.8 percent of those who voted) voted in advance during the by-elections in Fort McMurray–Athabasca, Macleod, Scarborough–Agincourt and Trinity–Spadina. The advance polling stations were open from 12:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. (local time) on June 20, 21 and 23, 2014.
A total of 6,784 electors (or 14.3 percent of those who voted) voted in advance during the by-elections in Whitby–Oshawa and Yellowhead. The advance polling stations were open from 12:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. (local time) on November 7, 8 and 10, 2014.
The numbers of advance polling stations in the by-elections were as follows:
- Fort McMurray–Athabasca – 12
- Macleod – 15
- Scarborough–Agincourt – 11
- Trinity–Spadina – 14
- Whitby–Oshawa – 15
- Yellowhead – 24
Voting on election day
Casting a ballot at a polling station on election day remained the choice of the vast majority of electors during the six by-elections: 107,492 electors chose this option, or 79.6 percent of all voters. This compares to the 83.8 percent of all those who cast votes on election day in the 41st general election.
All of the polls opened on time, with two exceptions. In Macleod, one poll opened 15 minutes late because the poll official reported to work at the wrong polling site. As no electors were waiting to vote, this late opening did not cause any inconvenience. In Scarborough–Agincourt, one poll opened 45 minutes late because the poll clerk could not find the polling site. The returning officer replaced the poll clerk. A number of electors were waiting to vote when the poll opened.
Voter turnout for the by-elections was as follows:
- Fort McMurray–Athabasca – 15.3 percent
- Macleod – 19.8 percent
- Scarborough–Agincourt – 29.4 percent
- Trinity–Spadina – 31.5 percent
- Whitby–Oshawa – 31.8 percent
- Yellowhead – 16.1 percent
Table 10 in the Appendix shows the number of ballots cast in the by-elections and the overall voter turnout. While various situational factors may have had an impact on voter turnout, these turnout rates follow the general trend for by-elections in Canada over the last two decades.
Report on accessibility
A Polling Site Accessibility Feedback Form is available at all polling locations and local Elections Canada offices, as well as on the Elections Canada website. Electors have the option to file complaints about accessibility at the polling site when they vote, or by telephone, fax, e-mail or regular mail.
For the 2014 by-elections, all polling sites in all six electoral districts met Elections Canada's accessibility criteria.
During the 2014 by-elections, 37 accessibility feedback forms were submitted, reporting 37 accessibility complaints. Returning officers are responsible for reviewing all the forms submitted, taking appropriate remedial action where required and following up with those electors who asked to be contacted.
The table below provides a breakdown of complaints received. All accessibility issues were reviewed and addressed, and all files have been closed.
|Accessibility category||Number of complaints||Percentage of total complaints|
|Walkways and pathways||1||2.7|
|Interior accessible routes||2||5.4|
On election night, each returning officer logged into his or her local Event Results System (ERS) and then connected to Elections Canada's central computer. When ballot counting was completed at each polling station, the deputy returning officer called in the results to the local Elections Canada office, where totals were entered into the ERS, then transmitted to Elections Canada for posting on its website. Ballots cast under the SVR that were mailed to Elections Canada's headquarters were counted in Ottawa on election night.
The by-election results were as follows:
- Fort McMurray–Athabasca – David Yurdiga, Conservative Party of Canada, was elected
- Macleod – John Barlow, Conservative Party of Canada, was elected
- Scarborough–Agincourt – Arnold Chan, Liberal Party of Canada, was elected
- Trinity–Spadina – Adam Vaughan, Liberal Party of Canada, was elected
- Whitby–Oshawa – Pat Perkins, Conservative Party of Canada, was elected
- Yellowhead – Jim Eglinski, Conservative Party of Canada, was elected
Table 11 in the Appendix lists the valid votes obtained, by candidate, in the six by-elections.
Validation of results
Returning officers validate the results as soon as possible after election day. The validations were completed as follows:
- Fort McMurray–Athabasca – July 4, 2014
- Macleod – July 4, 2014
- Scarborough–Agincourt – July 3, 2014
- Trinity–Spadina – July 1, 2014
- Whitby–Oshawa – November 18, 2014
- Yellowhead – November 21, 2014
Return of the writs
A returning officer must hold the writ for six days after the validation of the results to allow time for candidates and electors to request a recount. No recounts were requested, and the writs were returned as follows:
- Fort McMurray–Athabasca – July 11, 2014
- Macleod – July 11, 2014
- Scarborough–Agincourt – July 10, 2014
- Trinity–Spadina – July 8, 2014
- Whitby–Oshawa – November 25, 2014
- Yellowhead – November 28, 2014
Elections Canada publishes official voting results about three months after an election. These publications contain the poll-by-poll results for each electoral district as well as various statistics. The official results for the by-elections in Fort McMurray–Athabasca, Macleod, Scarborough–Agincourt and Trinity–Spadina were published on the Elections Canada website in October 2014; the official results for the by-elections in Whitby–Oshawa and Yellowhead will be published on the Elections Canada website in March 2015.
Cost of the by-elections
The table below summarizes the estimated cost of the by-elections. As of January 23, 2015, the estimated cost for the by-elections in Fort McMurray–Athabasca, Macleod, Scarborough–Agincourt and Trinity–Spadina is $3.8 million, and the estimated cost for the by-elections in Whitby–Oshawa and Yellowhead is $1.5 million. The total estimated cost for all six by-elections is $5.3 million or $9.66 per registered elector.
Fees paid to returning officers and election workers as well as the cost of goods and services such as printing, leasing of local offices and polling sites, furniture and equipment in the six electoral districts totalled $3.3 million, or 62 percent of the estimated costs.
Elections Canada's office in Gatineau incurred $1.5 million, or 29 percent of the estimated cost, to prepare for and conduct the by-elections. This included producing and placing election advertising in local media, producing and printing reminder brochures, delivering election materials and supplies to the electoral districts, and supplying technical assistance to support the required information technology infrastructure between Elections Canada in Gatineau and the local offices.
Another $473,000, or 9 percent of the estimated cost, is projected to be paid for the partial reimbursement of election expenses to candidates and subsidies to candidates' auditors.
Overall, the average cost per electoral district for these six by-elections is approximately $883,000, which is 8 percent higher than the average for by-elections held since the 2011 general election. However, the average cost per elector, at $9.66, is 11 percent lower than average. There are numerous factors influencing the cost of by-elections including the duration of the election period; the level of spending by candidates, which impacts reimbursements; adjustments to election worker fees and allowances; market forces for expenses such as advertising, local office and polling site rentals, furniture and equipment; the location and size of the electoral district; and the level of staffing required.
|Activity||Estimated cost ($ thousands)|
|Fort McMurray–Athabasca, Macleod, Scarborough–Agincourt, Trinity–Spadina||Whitby–Oshawa, Yellowhead||Total|
|Conducting the by-elections in the electoral districts – Includes training election workers for positions at local Elections Canada offices and polling stations; printing the lists of electors and voter information cards; leasing and equipping local offices and polling sites||2,420||866||3,286|
|Preparing for and conducting the by-elections at Elections Canada's office in Gatineau and providing support to returning officers – Includes training returning officers and other key employees; holding advertising and awareness campaigns; making the support network available to returning officers; supplying information technology; carrying out post-election activities||961||579||1,540|
|Reimbursing election expenses to candidates and subsidies to candidates' auditors||378||95||473|
|Total estimated cost||3,759||1,540||5,299|
1 Estimated cost. Actual cost will not be known until Elections Canada has received and processed all outstanding invoices for goods and services, and received and audited all candidates' election expenses reports.