Administrative Review of Procedures for the Tracking and Handling of Shipments Containing Special Ballots at Elections Canada's Distribution Centre in Ottawa
This section covers the governance mechanisms at play when incidents occur at AVM, including decision making and notification of senior management.
The SVRA has a unique position within Elections Canada. Part 11 of the Act specifically governs SVRA's duties. The SVRA is called upon to apply the Act and can request adaptationsFootnote 14 to the Act, in consultation with legal services, to adapt a provision of Part 11 of the Act in respect of a particular circumstance.Footnote 15
During electoral events, the SVRA works closely with legal services (as described above), as well as with a variety of external stakeholders, such as the CAF, Global Affairs Canada, and federal and provincial correctional bodies, who play an active role in supporting SVR voting and resolving issues that arise. It is also a practice that the SVRA formally engages Elections Canada's senior management to report incidents that may have an impact on the election process, electors or the reputation of the agency. This practice is not documented.
Other proceduresFootnote 16 also exist to report significant issues to senior management:
Incident Task Force
During the 42nd general election, an incident–response task force was created to improve cross-sector communication regarding important incidents and to coordinate situations that may require broader operational analysis and response during electoral events. The Incident Task Force (ITF) comprised 26 members from across Elections Canada. The SVRA (or a staff member of the AVM directorate) was not a member, but a representative for the Electoral Events Sector—the sector in which SVRA is located—coordinated all activities and communications for the sector. The ITF developed a scale to be applied when rating the impact of incidents. This rating was used to determine who should be involved in managing an incident and approving the response. The ITF's activities stopped after polling day.
Senior Steering Committee
There is also a practice of escalating to the Senior Steering Committee issues that could have an impact on the right to vote or the integrity of elections or that could harm the reputation of the agency. This committee is composed of the CEO; the Associate CEO; the Deputy CEO, Electoral Events; the Deputy CEO, Integrated Services, Policy and Public Affairs; and the Chief of Staff. The decision to bring a matter to the Senior Steering Committee rests in the hands of a member.
- The SVRA engages Elections Canada's senior management to report incidents or issues that may have an impact on the electoral process, electors or the reputation of the agency.
- The Incident Task Force is an incident–response team during electoral events. The team determines who should be involved in managing the incident and approving the response, based on formalized criteria.
- The Senior Steering Committee is the ultimate body responsible for handling any issue that could have an impact on the right to vote or the integrity of elections or that could cause harm to the reputation of the agency.
- The procedures for these controls, except for those of the ITF, are not documented.
- In the case at hand, the SVRA determined that, since he received the special ballots on October 29, 2015, outside of the legislated timeline, the ballots would not be counted.
- The incident was not brought to the ITF (the ITF concluded its activities after polling day).
- The incident was recorded by the MVC in his report. This report was shared with the coordinating officer at the Department of National Defence.
- The incident was not otherwise mentioned in the post-mortem prepared by the SVRA for Elections Canada's senior management.
Return to source ofFootnote 14 An instruction to adapt a provision of Part 11 of the Act (Special Voting Rules) with respect to a particular circumstance where the CEO considers that it is necessary in order to execute the intent of the provision. In general, these adaptations are aimed at allowing SVR electors to vote or allowing the SVRA to count special ballots where there have been administrative errors.
Return to source ofFootnote 15 Section 179 of the Act.
Return to source ofFootnote 16 There is also a formalized procedure for escalating issues derived from media enquiries to the Executive Committee (EXCOM). This practice is not within the scope of this review.