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Returning Officers' Report of Proceedings – 42nd General Election, 2015

Section 1: Conduct of the Electoral Event

Note that not all results add up to 338 – the total number of returning officers (ROs) – due to the optional nature of the questions in this section. Comments have been summarized based on recurring themes and relevance.

Training

  1. Did the training for returning officers (online, regional meetings) contribute to your confidence in conducting an electoral event?
    Did the training for returning officers (online, regional meetings) contribute to your confidence in conducting an electoral event?
    Text version

    What went well
    • Networking with other ROs and Elections Canada employees
    • Online training
    What could be improved
    • Training for new ROs (cover basic processes, terms, goals, etc.)
    • Approach (more best practices, simulation, case studies, do's and don'ts)
    • Definition of the role, duties and responsibilities of ROs
    • Overview and hands-on use of Elections Canada applications and systems (REVISE, Returning Office Payment System [ROPS/SITES], Event Results System, etc.)
    • Precise updates and explanations of the changes to processes, laws, etc. (Canada Elections Act, Fair Elections Act, advance polls process, Special Voting Rules [SVR])
  2. Do you believe that the in-class training program and tools (guidebooks, videos and teaching aids) provided for poll workers training contributed to enabling procedural compliance at the polls?
    Do you believe that the in-class training program and tools (guidebooks, videos and teaching aids) provided for poll workers training contributed to enabling procedural compliance at the polls?
    Text version

    What went well
    • Videos and practice exercises are the most valuable
    • Great improvement from last election
    • In-class training works best with workers who have a higher education level
    What could be improved
    • Format
      • More hands-on activities and less contextual information
      • Training should be more specific to each position (e.g. separate information officer and registration officer training)
      • Duration and amount of information covered in the three hours
      • Adaption to the level of education
    • Training officer's training
    • Material (content and number of kits, explanation, consistency between guidebooks, manuals, guidelines)

Recruitment of Poll Workers

  1. Were the recruitment tools (Recruitment Management System [RMS], posters, recruitment plan, online application, media plan) effective for hiring poll workers?
    Were the recruitment tools (Recruitment Management System [RMS], posters, recruitment plan, online application, media plan) effective for hiring poll workers?
    Text version

    What went well
    • Elections Canada's advertising campaigns
    • Online applications
    • Idea behind the RMS and the potential it has to be a very good tool
    What could be improved
    • Functionalities and integration of the RMS and ROPS
    • Setup for the recruitment officer (equipment, resources, coverage of the additional assistant returning officer area)
    • Have specific training for recruitment officers
    • Personalization of support and advertising based on demography and geography of the electoral district
  2. Did you have problems recruiting enough competent poll workers?
    Did you have problems recruiting enough competent poll workers?
    Text version

    Did you have to hire poll workers outside your electoral district (with an authorization of the Chief Electoral Officer)?
    Did you have to hire poll workers outside your electoral district (with an authorization of the Chief Electoral Officer)?
    Text version

    What went well
    • Recruiting 16- and 17-year-olds was a great help and they were usually the best workers
    What could be improved
    • Process for and timeliness of approvals for recruiting outside the electoral district
    • Customized support according to the electoral district's needs (demography, geography, etc.)
    • Lists obtained from political parties (quantity and quality of workers, accuracy of lists)
    Reasons for difficulties hiring
    • Dropouts
    • Low pay rates
    • Demography
      • Older population in the electoral district
      • High income
      • Low education level
    • Geography
      • Harder filling positions in small rural communities
      • Geography of the electoral district can make assigning workers difficult in remote areas (mountains, rivers, etc.)
    • Redistribution
      • Some areas with high participation had been removed from some electoral districts, making it harder to find workers in those districts

Products, Tools and Resources

  1. Did you receive all the required materials (original shipments and subsequent orders) from Elections Canada within reasonable timeframes?
    Did you receive all the required materials (original shipments and subsequent orders) from Elections Canada within reasonable timeframes?
    Text version

    What went well
    • ROs are pleased with the quick delivery of all initial and additional materials
    What could be improved
    • Quality control on the content of shipments (some items were missing)
    • Receipt of a few items that should have been received earlier (training materials, IT equipment, USB packages and kits)
    • Customization of the amount of materials sent according to the electoral district
  2. Did you find everything you needed in the ECDocs section of the Field Personnel Intranet (manuals, forms, checklists, etc.)?
    Did you find everything you needed in the ECDocs section of the Field Personnel Intranet (manuals, forms, checklists, etc.)
    Text version

    What went well
    • Reference materials were great
    What could be improved
    • Search engine – better tagging to make finding information easier
    • Timeliness and quantity of updates during the election period
    • Accuracy and consistency of information throughout the documentation
  3. Did you seek approval for additional funds for any section of your budget during the election calendar?
    Did you seek approval for additional funds for any section of your budget during the election calendar?
    Text version

    What went well

    No comments

    What could be improved
    • Allocation of funds and proposed budget
      • ROs should be more involved in making decisions
      • A better analysis of the needs for each position, activity and electoral district should have been done to account for the district's changes following redistribution, the needs in the previous election, the new processes and positions, etc.
      • Additional funds were needed for most positions, especially for recruitment and training purposes
    • Process for and timeliness of approvals
  4. Did you experience any problems with functionality or processes related to any Elections Canada products or tools?
    Did you experience any problems with functionality or processes related to any Elections Canada products or tools?
    Text version

    Number of identified problems for the listed EC tools
    Text version

    Acronyms

    ERT
    Elector Registration Tool (for SVR electors)

    ROPS/SITES
    Returning Officer Payment System

    VIC
    Voter Information Card

    TRMT
    Targeted Revision Management Tool

    ICBMS
    Incidents, Complaints and Breaches Monitoring System

    SMSi
    Supply Management System by intranet

    ERS
    Event Results System

    Breakdown of the number of problems reported
    by estimated level of severity
      Minor
    1
    2 3 Serious
    4
    Total
    Office IT equipment 49 64 45 51 209
    ERT (SVR) 41 47 32 44 164
    REVISE 51 58 33 17 159
    E-mail system 58 46 30 22 156
    ROPS/SITES 64 52 24 14 154
    VIC 53 35 23 36 147
    Geography products 40 34 33 37 144
    GeoExplore 41 33 32 32 138
    Training Officer Kit 49 43 12 13 117
    Postal services 42 26 24 25 117
    Field Personnel Intranet 44 38 20 12 114
    EC Public Website 44 28 24 14 110
    TRMT 48 22 10 5 85
    Printing of the ballots 45 11 13 9 78
    ICBMS 36 21 13 2 72
    SMSi 43 13 3 8 67
    ERS 42 9 5 2 58


Services to Political Parties and Candidates

  1. Did the meetings with political entities go well?
    Did the meetings with political entities go well?
    Text version

    What went well
    • Good collaboration, good participation and positive feedback from the parties
    What could be improved
    • Timing of the meetings – they should have been held sooner in the event or even pre-event
    • Last-minute changes to the agenda provided to ROs
  2. Did the guidelines provided by Elections Canada assist you in conducting successful meetings with political parties and candidates?
    Did the guidelines provided by Elections Canada assist you in conducting successful meetings with political parties and candidates?
    Text version

    What went well
    • Guidelines were complete and useful. Saved time and helped with the planning
    What could be improved
    • Timeliness of updates for instructions and tools (e.g. the revised agenda that was sent after meetings had been scheduled and invitations sent)
    • Not changing the agenda at the last minute

Revision

  1. Were there any issues or challenges with revision procedures (general guidelines, targeted revision, revision at your office or at an additional assistant returning officer's office)?
    Did the guidelines provided by Elections Canada assist you in conducting successful meetings with political parties and candidates?
    Text version

    What went well
    • E-registration application
    What could be improved
    • Technical issues with REVISE (connectivity, bugs)
    • Training
      • Insufficient
      • Inconsistencies in the materials and guidelines
    • Targeted revision (access to)
      • High-mobility areas
      • Long-term care facilities
      • Apartment buildings

Outreach and Accessibility

  1. Were there accessibility issues that you could not resolve?
    Were there accessibility issues that you could not resolve?
    Text version

    What went well
    • Pre-event assignments on accessibility
    • Pre-event visits to polling sites
    What could be improved
    • Quality of sites
      • Particularly the lack of proper parking spaces (distance; size; quantity, including parking spaces for persons with disabilities)
      • Location (distance for electors)
      • Difficulty having access to schools
    • Accessibility requirements (too strict)
      • Other government buildings are not meeting Elections Canada's standards
      • Elections Canada's standards exceed rural standards
  2. Were resources (finances, material, time allocated) adequate for community relations officers to do the work needed?
    Were resources (finances, material, time allocated) adequate for community relations officers to do the work needed?
    Text version

    What went well
    • Promotional items (backpack, pamphlet, pens, clips)
    • Transferable hours and quick approval of extra hours
    What could be improved
    • Initial number of hours allotted
    • Availability of the progression report (unavailable for the first week of the outreach program)
    • Increase the autonomy of community relations officers in terms of reporting duties (they could have templates and complete the reports themselves)

Official Languages

  1. Did you have one or more site(s) designated as bilingual sites?
    Did you have one or more site(s) designated as bilingual sites?
    Text version

    What could be improved
    • Communication – quite a few ROs did not know there should be designated bilingual sites
  2. Did you assign a bilingual poll worker to each of those sites?
    Did you assign a bilingual poll worker to each of those sites?
    Text version

    Comments
    • Even though the law is about official languages, efforts should also be put towards services to different ethnic communities according to the electoral district's demography
    • Efforts should be put towards services in Aboriginal languages on reserves
    • Support for rural areas with fewer potential bilingual workers

Special Voting Rules

  1. Overall, did the Special Voting Rules (SVR) process go well?
    Overall, did the Special Voting Rules (SVR) process go well?
    Text version

    What went well

    No comments

    What could be improved
    • Budget for special ballot coordinator (SBC) due to the popularity of this process during this election (more SBCs, more hours, create an SBC supervisor position)
    • SBC training
    • ERT was not user-friendly and should be linked to REVISE
    • Collaboration with hospital and acute care facilities
  2. Were there any difficulties in administering SVR identification rules?
    Were there any difficulties in administering SVR identification rules?
    Text version

    What went well
    • Most electors seemed to know about ID rules
    What could be improved
    • Advertising about ID for:
      • electors residing in rural areas
      • Aboriginal communities
      • voters in hospitals and acute care centres
  3. Were there any issues with the presence of candidates' representatives observing SVR registration and voting?
    Were there any issues with the presence of candidates' representatives observing SVR registration and voting?
    Text version

    What went well
    • In most electoral districts, there were no visits from candidates' representatives
    What could be improved
    • There should be a special area from which candidates' representatives can observe

Opening and Closing of the Polls

  1. Did anything prevent the timely and proper opening or closing of the polls?
    Did anything prevent the timely and proper opening or closing of the polls?
    Text version

    What prevented the proper opening or closing of the polls?
    • High number of dropouts at the last minute was a challenge for opening of the polls
    • High voter turnout was a challenge for closing of the polls
    • Long hours resulted in some workers leaving earlier and made closing more difficult

Returning Officer's Office Closing Activities

  1. Was the validation of results completed as directed in the Returning Officer Manual (Section 14.1)?
    Was the validation of results completed as directed in the Returning Officer Manual (Section 14.1)?
    Text version

    What went well
    • Directives were very clear and the process very easy to follow
    What could be improved
    • Support (collaboration and timeliness of replies) from the Elections Canada Support Network (ECSN)
    • Better collaboration with candidates and parties to have them act as witnesses
    • Duration of the process (more than one day)
  2. What other procedures, if any, or modifications to current procedures would be useful to you in supporting the closing activities for your office or an additional assistant returning officer office, if applicable?


    Closing the office, return of material
    • Closing procedures need to be provided at the beginning of the event
    • Centralize and clarify instructions
    • Send a lot less material, documents and forms
    • Every EC number on election materials should include the return lot number
    • Allow the RO to shred documents locally
    • Make Elections Canada tools available for a longer period after the event (ROPS, financial systems)
    • Allow for more staff for closing the office
    • Allow more time to pay election workers after the event
    • Extend the office closing period after the election
    Bingo sheets
    • Requirement to provide all bingo sheets by Day -1 to candidates is an enormous task; Modify the deadline, the process or the format of the form

Overall

  1. Using the rating system below, please assess Elections Canada's level of service for this electoral event:
    Elections Canada's communication with you
    Text version

    What went well
    • Intranet is an improvement from previous elections
    • Communications are well written
    • Daily e-mail announcing aide-memoire items and upcoming memos
    What could be improved
    • Still too many sources (two e-mail addresses, intranet, public folders, subject matter experts, ECSN, aide-memoire, manuals, memos)
    • Timeliness of the information (memos sent late at night, calls made late at night, information sent late or after the fact, updates sent in the middle of a task)
    • Accuracy of the information (conflict between sources)
    Overall support from the Elections Canada Support Network
    Text version

    What went well
    • Good client service (politeness, amiability, professionalism, positive attitude, desire to help)
    What could be improved
    • Efficiency of Tier 1
    • Overall support (wait time, knowledge, accuracy of answers provided)
    • Access to HelpVisiion for ROs (to be aware of the status of a request without calling ECSN)
    Overall support from your field liaison officer (FLO)
    Text version

    What went well
    • Very good support from the majority of FLOs
    • Weekly conference calls (FLOs/ROs)
    • Reaching out to FLOs for faster service
    What could be improved
    • Definition of the role and responsibilities of FLOs
    • Availability of and support from some FLOs
    • Knowledge of some FLOs
    Overall support from Election Canada throughout the conduct of the electoral event
    Text version

    What went well
    • Overall good service from Elections Canada
    • In emergency situations, the support was greater
    What could be improved
    • State of readiness (ECHQ was not ready, there should have been strong plans for different election dates and for different election calendar lengths)
    • ECHQ's timeliness in answering and approving requests
    • ECHQ's timeliness in resolving issues
    • Conflicting instructions and information from different teams
    Overall level of readiness for the election based on the completion of pre-eventactivities
    Text version

    What went well
    • Pre-event activities were mostly helpful in preparing ROs for the event
    What could be improved
    • Organization and planning (the early issue of writs prevented the completion of certain tasks)
    • Lack of readiness
    • Work on polling division boundaries