open Secondary menu

Statements and Speeches

Proposed Amendments to Bill C-50 Presented by the Chief Electoral Officer to the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs on May 7, 2015

Amendments to Bill C-50 Recommended by the Chief Electoral Officer
C-50 Clause CEA1 Provision C-50
Analysis Proposed Amendments
3 95(1)(c) This provision attempts to ensure that returning officers (ROs) do not send voter information cards (VICs) to non-resident electors. The way the provision is worded requires ROs to know whether non-resident electors "may vote" before exempting them from receiving a VIC. Pursuant to (proposed) s. 222, an elector "may vote" if he or she has applied for a special ballot and meets the prescribed conditions. Given the time that it may take to verify applications, it may not be clear prior to the distribution of the VICs on Day 24 which non-resident electors in the Register have applied to vote and should therefore be struck off the VIC distribution list. If the provision is applied literally, some non-resident voters may consequently be issued a VIC. It would be preferable if the amendment proposed to s. 95(1)(c) simply referred to "electors" as defined under s. 220. This would ensure that anyone residing outside Canada would not be issued a VIC.
4 143 The CEO's discretion to authorize documents issued by "entities" to be used as voter identification in person or by mail will be restricted to documents from entities incorporated in or "otherwise formed in Canada". There will be no way for deputy returning officers or those receiving applications for special ballots to readily ascertain whether an entity is incorporated in or otherwise formed in Canada. The restriction is likely to cause confusion at the polls on the part of election officers, candidates' representatives and voters. This provision should be deleted from the bill. 
5 164.1 Bill C-50 expands the audit of election workers to include special balloting processes.

In addition, the bill provides a clause stating that "for greater certainty" the CEO shall give the auditor access to any documents necessary for the audit of special balloting processes.
By confirming that the CEO can provide documents to the auditors in the case of special ballot provisions, but not in the cases of ordinary and advance poll provisions, Bill C-50 raises the question of the authority of the CEO to share documents with auditors in the case of the audit of ordinary and advance poll procedures. This is significant because many of the documents at issue will be "election documents" under s. 540 of the Act, and would not normally be shared with third parties. Proposed s. 164.1(2) should be made more general to clarify that the CEO has the authority and obligation to share any documents that the auditors believe to be necessary for the purposes of their audit. This could be done simply by deleting the reference to (b) from the provision and having the "for greater certainty" clause apply to subsection (1) in its entirety.
9, 14 223, 233 Electors voting by special ballot other than in the RO office (whether resident in Canada or abroad) may prove their residence by a written attestation process similar to the new oral attestation process at the polls. As the applications for special ballot will be in writing, the voter and the attestor must take an oath or make a statutory declaration in writing. Oaths and statutory declarations may only be taken in front of certain specified officials. These officials may not be readily available to electors who are applying to vote by special ballot. To the extent that the desire is to allow voters and attestors simply to fill out a paper declaration and sign it without the presence of a third party, the reference to "statutory declaration" should be eliminated. The reference to a statutory declaration in these provisions should be changed to refer simply to a declaration, in order to provide voters with a simpler alternative to taking an oath. 
13 231 The attestor for an elector residing in Canada and wishing to vote by special ballot (other than those who vote at the RO office via s. 237.1) will have to be qualified to vote in the polling division in which the elector's place of ordinary residence is situated. This is to be contrasted with the attestor for a non-resident elector who, according to s. 220, must be qualified to vote in the electoral district in which the elector's last place of ordinary residence is situated, but not necessarily in the same polling division. Electors cannot easily determine their polling division prior to Day 24, when the polling divisions are confirmed
and the information is available on Elections Canada's website as well as distributed to electors by means of
the VIC.
The reference to polling division in s. 231 should be amended to refer to electoral district.
14 233(1)(a.1) An application for a special ballot will require proof of citizenship "if the elector makes the application from outside Canada". In practice it will be difficult if not impossible to determine which electors "make an application" for a special ballot from outside Canada, especially in cases where applications arrive by fax or Internet. This provision should be amended to require proof of citizenship where an elector requests that a special ballot be sent to them at an address outside Canada.
14 233 Electors who are resident in Canada and apply to vote by special ballot, other than those who vote at the RO office (via s. 237.1), will now be required to provide "copies" of proof of identity and residence with their application. 

Similar changes have been made requiring such copies from electors residing outside Canada.
The provision does not entail a significant change of practice with respect to electors who apply by mail or fax to vote by special ballot. Such electors already provide copies. However, the bill will also apply the obligation to provide copies on other electors applying to vote by special ballot, including "hospital electors," electors at remote locations where ROs collect special ballots, and electors who vote at home under s. 243.1. Those electors will have originals of their identification documents, not copies. It would be preferable if this provision were amended to clarify that the requirement to provide copies, rather than originals, does not apply when an elector votes in person.

1 Canada Elections Act, S.C. 2000, c. 9.