Executive summary – Returning Officers' Report of Proceedings – 43rd General Election
The 43rd GE was delivered successfully despite a number of unique challenges, including inclement weather, system malfunctions and other unforeseen circumstances which required ROs to quickly adapt and take action.
All electoral districts (EDs) had to deal with extended hours for advanced polling, the new requirement of data capturing the Sequence Number Sheets, and glitches in some systems, namely EC Connex, the Recruitment Management System (RMS), and the Returning Office Payment System (ROPS). Some EDs also experienced snow storms, power outages, flooding, displaced electors, and poll workers who did not work as scheduled on advance or ordinary polling days.
Furthermore, the election period for the 43rd GE coincided with some Jewish high holy days and Elections Canada (EC) developed enhanced voting services so that Jewish electors would have more opportunities to vote. Many ROs worked with Jewish communities across the country to ensure members of their community were aware of the various enhanced voting services and alternative voting options available to them.
Overall, ROs were happy with the RO training and were highly content with the one-stop in-office voting service model, which was appreciated by electors. They were also generally satisfied with the delivery of supplies from EC, and felt the Supply Management System by Intranet (SMSi) was an effective tool by which to request and manage election materials.
On the other hand, the majority of ROs were not satisfied with poll worker training. They indicated that the duties of poll workers are too complicated, especially the closing instructions which surpass workers' cognitive capacity after a long voting day. As a result of extended hours during advance polls, poll and RO office workers were exhausted. ROs suggested simplifying procedures and providing better training aids. They also suggested either increasing the length of training, or splitting tasks so most poll workers can deal with simple cases, while better trained poll workers deal with more complex exceptions. ROs also identified the need for simplifying RO office closing procedures, particularly the Sequence Number Sheet data capture.
ROs reported issues with computer and phone installations, as well as malfunctions with several key election systems. ROs indicated that EC Connex was slow, cumbersome, lacked user-friendliness and often timed out. They were also disappointed that the integration of RMS and ROPS did not work. This resulted in many additional hours of data entry, adding to the many challenges which ROs were called upon to deal with in the 43rd GE.