Independent audit report on the performance of the duties and functions of Election Officials – By-elections December 11, 2017
4 Findings – Major and Other Observations
Our audit findings and conclusions are presented on an aggregate level. Our results are not attributed to any specific ED, polling site, polling station or election official. Our key findings and other observations are described below.
4.1 Performance of the duties and functions of Election Officials
A Canadian citizen who is at least 18 years of age on election day may vote in the ED in which they reside. The CEA provides procedural safeguards designed to protect the integrity of the electoral process, one of which requires electors to prove eligibility (identity and residence) before receiving a ballot. For most electors who are already registered at their current address and therefore included on the List of Electors, election day procedures involve a simple, efficient check of one or more pieces of acceptable identification to confirm identity and address of residence. Based on electoral activity during our periods of observation, approximately 94% of electors voted in this manner in these by-elections on an aggregate basis. The remaining 6% of electors required special administrative procedures prior to being issued a ballot and exercising their right to vote. The electors who required special procedures were electors who needed to register (Registration Certificate) or electors who required a minor correction to their electoral information on the List of Electors (Correction Certificate)
4.2 Major findings
4.2.1 No major findings resulting from deviations in key controls and procedures for electors served during period of observation
Our testing did not identify any major findings from deviations in key controls and procedures for electors served during our periods of observation at advance and ordinary polls. For each sample, the election official obtained the determined the appropriateness of identification provided by the elector, confirmed that the individual was at the correct polling station and on the List of Electors, confirmed that the individual had not previously voted, and struck the elector's name off the List of Electors.
4.3 Other observations
For key controls, a deviation of 2%–4.9% was considered an Other Observation. For secondary controls, a deviation of 11% or more was considered an Other Observation.
4.3.1 Certificates and associated records were not always documented consistently
The administration of certain special procedures requires the initiation of a certificate based on the nature of the situation. The sections of the individual certificates require information pertinent to the situation and typically require the name and address of the elector and any other relevant information, the information related to the oath/declaration to be administered, a signature of the elector and attestor, as applicable, and the signature and date by the DRO.
During our observation, we noted that the Correction Certificate was not always signed by the DRO and that not all sections of the Correction Certificate were duly completed.
When special procedures are administered at ordinary polls, the duties of the PC include having to record the proceedings in the appropriate section of the poll book. The poll book should have an entry for each elector that required special procedures and the information in the poll book must agree to the information on the corresponding certificate. Our audit noted examples above our reporting threshold where the poll book was not completed accurately and completely for the administration of the special procedures observed. Inaccurate or incomplete entries in the poll book do not provide visibility of the details of the interaction with the elector and the special procedures administered.
4.3.2 Verbal oaths were not administered consistently (Correction Certificates)
Depending on the circumstances, special procedures may be required by Election Officials to validate that the elector is at the correct polling site and polling station, to administer a verbal oath to the elector, to administer an oral warning to the elector and their attestor, and/or to administer written oaths/declarations to the elector and/or their attestor. These procedures are intended to reinforce the integrity of the electoral process by ensuring that ballots are only issued once to eligible electors.
During our period of observation, we noted instances when Correction Certificates were required based on the circumstances. The special procedures required for Correction Certificates include administering a verbal oath to the elector to confirm that they are qualified to vote and they previously have not requested a ballot for the electoral event. While the correct certificate was administered by the Election Official, we noted instances when the verbal oaths were not administered to the elector.
4.3.3 Election Officials do not consistently mark an elector as voted in a timely manner
Section 162 of the CEA stipulates that the PC must indicate that the elector has voted. This allows for effective reconciliation of the ballots. This is typically evidenced by a check mark in the box next to the name of the elector on the List of Electors or the record of votes cast at advance polls. If an elector is not on the List of Electors, the PC is required to tick the elector as having voted in the poll book (or on the record of votes cast at advance polls). The CEA prescribes that this duty must be performed as soon as the elector's ballot has been deposited in the ballot box. This duty is in addition to having to cross off the elector's name when the elector appears on the List of Electors.
Our audit identified instances, above our reporting threshold for a secondary control, where the PC did not mark the elector as having voted as soon as the elector's ballot was deposited in the ballot box. In some cases, the PC marked the elector as having voted at the time they presented the required ID but prior to the elector being issued a ballot; while in other circumstances, the PC checked off the elector as voted after the elector had left the polling site. We also identified instances where the elector was not marked off as voted during our observation at advance polls. Based on our experience with the audit of previous electoral events, it is possible that this activity was completed in batches on the Record of Votes Cast at Advance Polls at a later time.
If electors are marked off as having voted prior to ballots being issued or well after an elector has left the polling site, the lack of real time monitoring results in the inability to confirm whether the elector did in fact cast their ballot. This may also cause difficulties for Election Officials when they reconcile the number of electors who voted to the number of ballots.
4.4 Assessment of administrative controls established by EC
Based on our discussions with EC during the planning phase of the engagement, there were no significant changes to the overall design and delivery of the training program, including training and support materials such as guidebooks since the April 3, 2017 by-election. Accordingly, we relied on our assessment of administrative controls in relation to the audit we conducted for the April 3, 2017 by-elections held in Calgary Heritage, Calgary Midnapore, Markham–Thornhill, Ottawa–Vanier, and Saint-Laurent as a basis for forming our conclusion.
For the December 11, 2017 by-elections, approximately 2,744 resources were recruited and trained to work at advance and ordinary polls. This pool of resources includes a redundancy factor to allow flexibility for those who drop out in advance or do not show on the day of voting.
In order to equip the temporary workforce hired to successfully serve electors, a formal training program was in place and delivered to each election official in advance of taking on their responsibilities. Based on enquiries with REGOs, DROs and PCs, feedback from training participants is similar to prior electoral events with respect to the content of the training programs, the format of how the training was delivered, the guidebook and the role of Central Poll Supervisor to support them with the performance of their duties. Accordingly, our conclusion on administrative controls established by EC in support of Elections Officials remains unchanged. Overall, EC's training program is comprehensive and is effective for providing prescriptive guidance and support to the temporary workforce that is hired to work at each by-election
In summary, based on the results of our audit, we are not proposing any new recommendations to the training program, curriculum and other tools and guidance to support Election Officials. PwC issued two independent audit reports on the performance of the duties and functions of Election Officials in relation to the 2015 general election and the 2016 by-election held in Medicine Hat–Cardston–Warner. Readers may refer to those reports for a list of the recommendations stemming from the previous audits.