Administrative Review of Procedures for the Tracking and Handling of Shipments Containing Special Ballots at Elections Canada's Distribution Centre in Ottawa
Further to the review of the procedures for sending special ballots to the field and electors and for returning the special ballots to and receiving them at the distribution centre, we provide five recommendations to improve the effectiveness of existing control mechanisms and to develop new ones where indicated.
1. Returning Special Ballots to the Distribution Centre
Within the limits of the Act, it is recommended that the AVM directorate explore opportunities to harmonize and modernize existing procedures to create, as much as possible, uniformity across its various business lines and to fill current gaps in procedures, specifically as they relate to returning special ballots to the distribution centre:
- Establish a centralized system for tracking the return of bulk shipments.
- Identify when bulk shipments of special ballots are being returned to the distribution centre and identify the content of those shipments.
- Identify and communicate shipping information to the intended recipient and have the intended recipient confirm reception with the sender (where appropriate).
- Communicate to the mailroom staff the estimated delivery date for bulk shipments.
- Ensure that tracking information is preserved for verification and audit purposes.
2. Receiving Special Ballots at the Distribution Centre
It is recommended that the procedures for all AVM and mailroom staff involved in the reception of special ballots at the distribution centre be reviewed, documented and communicated, specifically:
- Clarify the roles and responsibilities of all staff responsible for receiving mail at the distribution centre.
- Assess the need for having two access points for shipments of special ballots: the loading dock and the front entrance.
- Facilitate the timely identification of packages containing special ballots, including conducting routine inspections to cover all relevant areas of the distribution centre during an electoral event, with particular attention to critical days (e.g. Day 6 and Day 0).
- Assess the need for an automated mail management tool to log shipments shipped from and received at the distribution centre.
- Institute an alert system to identify when expected returns of special ballots have not been received at the distribution centre.
- Monitor the movement of special ballots internally at the distribution centre.
3. Training for Returning and Receiving Special Ballots
It is recommended that training materials be reviewed and the training enhanced for all staff members and electoral workers who are responsible for the return and reception of special ballots.
4. Communication and Interaction between Elections Canada's Staff and Electoral Workers
It is recommended that regular communication between all those involved in the returning and receiving of special ballots be improved and reinforced. This includes AVM staff, mailroom staff, electoral workers and partners (including Global Affairs Canada, the CAF and correctional facilities) involved in the SVR process.
- It is recommended that the existing practices for reporting incidents internally be documented and promoted throughout Elections Canada, especially in the months leading up to an electoral event.
- It is recommended that the existence of the Incident Task Force be extended beyond the close of an electoral event (or until the polling division reports are published in accordance with section 533 of the Act) and that its membership be reviewed to ensure that all implicated divisions are appropriately represented.
Management response to recommendations:
Management agrees with the recommendations. A review of processes, procedures and training material will be conducted and changes will be implemented before the next general election. Elections Canada will also develop practical instruments to facilitate the timely identification, escalation and resolution of severe risks and incidents.