Report on the October 24, 2016, By-election in Medicine Hat–Cardston–Warner
3 Our approach
In order to provide reasonable assurance as to whether election officials performed their duties and functions as prescribed by the CEA, we selected a representative sample from across the ED and gathered sufficient and appropriate evidence to conclude on the audit objective. Evidence gathering techniques were comprised of direct observation, enquiries and inspection of election documents (representing the certificates, forms, reports and other paperwork required to serve an elector and document the results).
3.1 Approach to sample selection of polling sites
We selected a sample of polling sites within the ED. Our sample of polling sites was designed to reflect the population density of the ED and included polling sites in areas designated as urban or rural according to EC's designation of polling divisions.
We conducted audit procedures, designed to test how election officials carried out specified duties, on site at polling stations within the ED at advance polls and on election day. Our testing procedures included observation of the duties of the election officials. We tested how election officials performed their duties with respect to approximately 200 electoral interactions. There are certain inherent limitations to our audit approach, including:
- The presence of our auditors at polling stations observing the performance of election officials as they carried out their duties had the potential to affect the way in which election officials carried out their duties.
- Eligible voter population characteristics such as age, income, ethnic origin and aboriginal identity were not available at the polling division level. Accordingly, we based our sample on EC's designation of polling divisions as either rural or urban which may not be representative of current demographics and may not reflect the demographics of the population of election officials.
These factors were discussed with and disclosed to EC.
Accordingly, our sampling and testing approach was designed specifically to support our overall audit mandate as specified by legislation at an aggregate level. For this electoral event, the by-election was called for one ED. Accordingly, our results are presented at the ED level. We did not attempt to draw any conclusions with respect to the performance of officials serving individual polling sites or individual geographic regions within the ED.
3.2 Assessment of election officials' compliance with legislative duties
In order to assess whether DROs, PCs and REGOs properly performed the duties imposed on them under the relevant sections of the Act, we determined that it was necessary to perform audit procedures on site at polling sites and stations at advance polls and on October 24, 2016.
We performed the following procedures at advance and election day polls.
1. Observed the duties performed by the REGO at a sample of polling sites for a sample of electors served at the registration desk to verify that duties performed met the requirements of the CEA. More specifically, that the following duties were performed.
- 1.1. Confirmed the elector was at the correct polling site.
- 1.2. Checked whether the elector was included on the List of Electors.
- 1.3. Administered the required forms and certificates, as required by the specific circumstances.
2. Observed the duties performed by DROs and PCs for a sample of electors served at a sample of polling stations. More specifically, that the following duties were performed.
- 2.1. Obtained acceptable identification from each elector for proof of name and addressFootnote 8.
- 2.2. Validated the elector's information by comparing it to the List of Electors to determine whether the elector was registered.
- 2.3. Administered special procedures as prescribed by the CEA.
- 2.4. Completed forms and certificates, as applicable.
- 2.5. Administered correct oaths, verbal or written, and verbal warnings when applicable.
- 2.6. Recorded proceedings in the poll book, as required.
- 2.7. Performed the following duties for all electors.
- Crossed the elector off the List of Electors (for electors who were registered).
- Marked the elector as "voted" immediately after the ballot was placed in the ballot box.
- Completed the Statement of the electors who voted (Bingo Sheet) for electors who were registered (for distribution to candidate representatives)
- Recorded proceedings on Record of Votes Cast (advance polls only)
Our procedures were limited to observation without interacting or interfering with election officials as they were serving electors and administering their paperwork.
During advance polls, as well as on election day, we posed a series of questions to election officials to obtain their perspective on their training experience and supporting materials. We discuss our procedures in relation to our assessment of EC's approach to training and support of election officials in the section that follows.
3.3 Assessment of EC's approach to training and support of election officials
We performed the following procedures to assess EC's approach to training and supporting election officials to prepare them for their roles in relation to the by-election.
- Made enquiries with representatives within EC to understand significant changes to the overall design and delivery of the training program for election officials.
- Reviewed guides, manuals, videos and instructions ("training material") provided to election officials in relation to their duties on advance polling and on polling days to assess whether the information provided is complete, sufficient and appropriate for the effective discharge of their responsibilities.
- Compared the training presentation and guidance materials prepared for both the 2015 general election (October 2015) and the by-election (October 2016). We restricted our review to ordinary poll training materials for DROs and PCs as it relates to the duties and functions of these election officials within the scope of this audit. Our review did not include an analysis of the training related to duties out of scope such as reconciling ballots, counting ballots and closing the polling station/site.
- Conducted interviews with the RO, recruitment officer and one training officer to understand the design of the training program and the delivery of the training curriculum to participants.
- Reviewed poll worker training course notes issued to the training officers which provides guidance on managing and delivering the training program.
- Conducted interviews with one training officer to obtain an understanding of their perspective on the effectiveness of the support, tools and guidance that is provided to election officials.
- Observed the delivery of training to election officials at selected training sessions.
- Conducted enquiries with election officials during periods of elector inactivity at the polls.
Return to source of Footnote 8 As defined by Elections Canada using the "Have your ID ready" list.