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Independent audit report on the performance of the duties and functions of election officials – 42nd General Election

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 demographically and geographically representative sample from across Canada 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 EDs and polling stations

Our sample of EDs was designed to reflect the diversity of the Canadian voting population. In selecting our sample we considered characteristics of the voting population including age, urban and rural population density, income, ethnic origin and aboriginal identity based on the most recent Statistic Canada Census Program data (2011). Our sample included EDs in each Canadian province and territory.

We conducted audit procedures, designed to test how election officials carried out specified duties, on site at random polling stations within the selected EDs on each day of advance polls and on election day. Our testing procedures included observation of the duties of the election officials throughout the day of advance polls and election day. We also reviewed a sample of documents from the polling stations that we visited that were returned to the EC warehouse following the election. We tested how election officials performed their duties with respect to over 10,000 electoral transactions (votes). There are certain inherent limitations to our audit approach, including:

  • The presence of our auditors at polling stations observing performance of election officials as they carried out their duties had the potential to affect the way in which they carried out their duties.
  • We based our sample on 2011 Census data which, while the most current and best information available, is not necessarily representative of current demographics and may not reflect the demographics of the population of election officials.

With the exception of advising EC in advance of the polling stations selected for on-site testing, all of 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. We did not attempt to draw any conclusions with respect to the performance of officials serving individual EDs or individual geographic regions or demographic subgroups within Canada.

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 stations on all days of advance polls and on October 19, 2015, as well as election documents returned to EC's storage facility following the electoral event.

We performed the following procedures at advance and general 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 polling station of the elector.
    • 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 situation.

  2. Observed the duties performed by DROs and PCs for a sample of electors served at a sample of polling stations during various intervals when the polls were open. More specifically, that the following duties were performed.
    • 2.1. Obtained acceptable ID from each elector for proof of name and addressFootnote 5.
    • 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 poll book, as required.
    • 2.7. Performed the following duties for all electors.
      • Crossed 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 on polling day (for distribution to candidate representatives) (for electors who were registered).
  3. Examined election documents at EC's warehouse to verify that relevant forms were appropriately administered by election officials given the elector's circumstances and that proceedings were accurately recorded.

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 42nd General Election.

  • Interviewed representatives within EC to understand the overall design of the training program for election officials.
  • Reviewed guides, manuals, memos, 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.
  • Conducted interviews with ROs, training officers and recruitment officers to understand the design of the training program and the delivery of the training curriculum to participants.
  • Conducted interviews with training officers 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 interviews with training participants at the conclusion of the training session.
  • Conducted enquiries with election officials during periods of voter inactivity at polls.

Footnote 5 As defined by Elections Canada using the "Have your ID ready" list.