Adaptations made to the CEA pursuant to s. 17 in the 40th, 41st, 42nd, and 43rd General Elections – CEO Appearance on Bill C-19, An Act to amend the Canada Elections Act (COVID-19 response)
- The adaptation power is essential and is used in all general elections (GEs) to adjust to exceptional circumstances.
- Adaptations are made transparently. Each is immediately published on Elections Canada's website, along with a detailed justification and explanation. This information is also included in the Chief Electoral Officer's (CEO) reports to Parliament following a general election or by-election.
- We are not aware of any controversy having arisen from the use of the adaptation power by the CEO. In some cases, adaptations have led to subsequent amendments to the Canada Elections Act (CEA) in order to make them permanent.
- Over the last four general elections, the CEO has exercised his authority under subs. 17(1) of the CEA a total of 33 times.
- A total of 7 adaptations (out of 33 adaptations, or 21%) were made to safeguard the voting rights of electors impacted by severe weather events.
- In the 43rd GE: two adaptations related to severe weather in Manitoba footnote 1
- In the 42nd GE: two adaptations related to severe flooding footnote 2
- In the 41st GE: three adaptations related to severe flooding footnote 3
- A total of 7 adaptations (out of 33 adaptations, or 21%) were made to respond to higher-than-expected voter turnout or long waits at polling stations. Amendments since brought to the CEA provide returning officers (ROs) with more flexibility in managing election workers.
- In the 42nd GE: two adaptations safeguarded electoral rights, footnote 4 and one ensured the counting of advance ballots was not delayed by higher turnout footnote 5
- In the 41st GE: one adaptation permitted ROs to appoint central poll supervisors at polling sites consisting of one or more polling stations, footnote 6 one adaptation permitted additional poll workers at advance polls, footnote 7 and one adaptation permitted the establishment of a second polling station in a seniors' residence where some electors were facing long waits to vote footnote 8
- In the 40th GE: one adaptation allowed ROs to appoint additional poll officials, including additional deputy returning officers (DROs) and poll clerks footnote 9
- A total of 5 adaptations (out of 33 adaptations, or 15%) were made to mitigate errors made by ROs and election workers footnote 10 .
- A total of 4 adaptations (out of 33 adaptations, or 12%) were made to enable ROs to secure premises suitable for voting.
- Three adaptations allowed ROs to establish polling sites in an adjacent electoral district (ED)footnote 11 or an adjacent polling district of another ED. footnote 12
- One adaptation allowed ROs to establish their office outside of their ED if they were unable to establish their office within it. footnote 13
- Parliament amended the CEA to address some issues that the CEO had previously addressed using his subs. 17(1) authority, namely:
- to allow for the establishment of mobile advanced polls in isolated communities; footnote 14
- to mitigate complications stemming from federal by-elections being superseded by a federal GE; footnote 15
- to safeguard the statutory right of a candidate who was a Member of Parliament immediately before an election (and electors living with them) to vote in an ED other than the one in which their place of ordinary residence is located; footnote 16
- to safeguard the electoral rights of incarcerated electors, including in response to the Supreme Court's decision in Sauvé; footnote 17 and
- to authorize the recovery of ballot boxes believed to be interfered with while in the custody of a DRO. footnote 18
Return to source 1 Adaptation 17-G-2019-04 of October 18, 2019 (FR) (enhanced registration and voting services) and 17-G-2019-05 of October 19, 2019 (FR) (special ballot registration and voting services on polling day to workers assigned to restoring power supply in Manitoba)
Return to source 2 Adaptations of September 29, 2015 (FR) (to establish a second polling station for polling division in Timmins–James Bay) and September 29, 2015 (FR) (to establish polling stations for polling divisions in Churchill–Keewatinook Aski)
Return to source 3 Adaptations of April 30, 2011 (FR) (to establish second polling station in Provencher), April 30, 2011 (FR) (to establish two mobile polling stations in Selkirk–Interlake), and May 2, 2011 (FR) (to permit issuance of transfer certificates in electoral districts affected by flooding)
Return to source 4 Adaptations of October 10, 2015 (FR) (permitting a second polling station in advance polling districts) and October 12, 2015 (FR) (permitting the use of photocopied ballot forms)
Return to source 5 Adaptation of October 16, 2015 (FR) (permitting the counting of advance poll ballots before the close of polls on polling day)
Return to source 6 Adaptation of April 3, 2011 (FR) (permitting additional poll workers on polling day)
Return to source 7 Adaptation of April 3, 2011 (FR) (permitting additional poll workers at advance polls)
Return to source 8 Adaptation of May 2, 2011 (FR) (permitting second polling station in a seniors' residence in Drummond)
Return to source 9 Adaptation of September 8, 2008 (FR)
Return to source 10 In GE 40, adaptations of October 6, 2008 (FR) (ballot whose counterfoil was not removed by deputy returning officer allowed to be marked as a spoiled ballot) and October 24, 2008 (FR) (validation of results for merged polling divisions and advanced polling district); in GE 41, adaptation of May 9, 2011 (FR) (deeming the merger of polling division and advance polling district in Wascana); in GE 42: adaptation of October 9, 2015 (FR) (to establish a second polling station in advance polling district in Toronto–St. Paul's); in GE 43: adaptation 17-G-2019-02 of October 4, 2019 (FR) (permitting ROs to establish external service points outside of their electoral district)
Return to source 11 Adaptation of October 7, 2008 (FR) (allowing polling sites to be established in an adjacent electoral district)
Return to source 12 Adaptations of April 7, 2011 (FR) (allowing polling sites to be established in adjacent polling division of another electoral district) and September 18, 2015 (FR) (allowing polling sites to be established in adjacent polling division of another electoral district)
Return to source 13 Adaptation 17-G-2019-01 of September 11, 2019 (FR) (permitting returning officers to establish an office outside of their electoral district because of difficulty securing suitable premises within it)
Return to source 14 Adaptation of April 21, 2011 (FR) (allowing for mobile advance polls in isolated communities of Abitibi–Baie James–Nunavik–Eeyou)
Return to source 15 Adaptation of September 27, 2008 (FR) (capturing revisions to the National Register of Electors made during superseded by-elections)
Return to source 16 Adaptations of October 10, 2008 (FR) and April 20, 2011 (FR)
Return to source 17 Adaptations of September 8, 2008 (FR), October 5, 2008 (FR) (lock-up of prisoners) and October 9, 2008 (FR) (misplaced registration forms)
Return to source 18 Adaptation of October 10, 2008 (FR)