Secondary menu

Report on the October 24, 2016, By-election in Medicine Hat–Cardston–Warner

2 Focus of the audit

2.1 Objective and scope

The objective of the audit, as set out in our contract with EC, was to report on:

whether DROs, PCs and REGOs have, for the by-election, on all days of advance polling and on polling day, properly exercised the powers conferred on them, and properly performed the duties and functions imposed on them, under the relevant sections of the Act; and

the degree to which the administrative controls established by EC, including manuals and training material, support election officials in the exercise of their powers and performance of their duties and functions in accordance with section 164.1 of the Act.

Collectively, these objectives represent the subject matter for our audit. The CEO is the official who is responsible for the subject matter.

We performed our audit in accordance with the Canadian Standard on Assurance Engagements 3001: Direct Engagements (CSAE 3001).

2.1.1 Limitations

We did not:

Assess election results;

Assess whether election officials other than DROs, PCs and REGOs performed their specific legislative duties;

Assess performance of legislative duties that are not specifically referred to in S.164.1 of the CEA; and

Assess the administrative controls of EC beyond those implemented for purposes of supporting election officials in the conduct of their duties under S.164.1 of the CEA.

Our audit approach is discussed in some detail below; however, it is important to recognize that there are certain inherent limitations of the auditing process. For example, audits are generally based on the concept of selective testing of the data being examined and are, therefore, subject to the limitation that material errors, material or significant weaknesses in internal controls, or fraud or other illegal acts having a direct and material impact on the subject matter, if they exist, may not be detected, simply because they did not occur in the transactions we observed or at the polling stations that we attended. In addition, because of the characteristics of fraud, particularly those involving concealment through collusion and falsified documentation (including forgery), an audit may not detect a material fraud.

2.2 Auditor's responsibility

Our responsibility is to provide reasonable assuranceFootnote 7 that there were no significant deviations in the exercise of powers and performance of the duties and functions of election officials from the requirements set out in the subject matter described above.

2.3 Management's responsibility

EC is responsible for establishing and maintaining administrative controls (key and secondary) to ensure election officials have the training, tools and guidance necessary to allow them to carry out their duties and functions in accordance with the Act.

2.4 Criteria

CSAE 3001 also requires us to describe in our report the criteria that we used to come to our conclusion. The criteria are the benchmarks we use to measure or evaluate the underlying subject matter. We identify the criteria before we start our work. These requirements are reflected in our audit criteria as outlined in Appendix B to this report.

For this audit, the principal criteria and therefore our audit mandate are specifically prescribed in the relevant sections of the Act described above. For the purpose of this audit, a significant deviation in the exercise of powers and the performance of the duties and functions of election officials was based on two levels of controls and procedures as well as acceptable tolerance levels. Key controls and procedures are those performed by election officials which establish a person's qualification and entitlement to vote. Secondary controls are those which support/reinforce the elector's established qualification/entitlement to vote and are typically more record-keeping in nature. Our audit criteria for this audit is consistent with our audit criteria reported on in our independent audit report on the performance of the duties and functions of election officials dated February 16, 2016 in relation to the 2015 general election.

The establishment of thresholds for reporting purposes was critical during the planning of the audit. The reporting thresholds were agreed with management and reflected the relative importance of the control. For key controls, a deviation of 5% or more was considered a major finding. For those same key controls, a deviation of 2%–4.9% was considered as other observations. For secondary controls, a deviation of 11% or more was considered as other observations. The reporting thresholds are consistent with our report on the 2015 general election. It is important to note that the sample testing for the by-election (with only one ED) is proportionately lower when compared to the sample observed at the 2015 general election. Accordingly, the relatively smaller sample population has a significant impact on the calculation of the error rate, even more so when determining the deviation percentage relative to the administration of special procedures (15% of the sample for this by-election). The smaller sample population effectively results in a lower tolerance threshold and decreases the number of errors required to reach the reporting threshold.

CSAE 3001 requires us to describe the quality control standards for our audit and whether we complied with relevant independence and ethical standards of our profession.


Footnote 7 CSAE 3001 defines reasonable assurance as follows: Reasonable Assurance Engagement – An assurance engagement in which the practitioner reduces engagement risk to an acceptably low level in the circumstances of the engagement as the basis for the practitioner's conclusion. The practitioner's conclusion is expressed in a form that conveys the practitioner's opinion on the outcome of the measurement or evaluation of the underlying subject matter against criteria. A reasonable assurance engagement may be referred to as an audit engagement.