Independent audit report on the performance of the duties and functions of Election Officers – By-elections February 25, 2019
4 Findings – Major and Other Observations
Our audit findings and conclusions are presented on an aggregate level. Our results do not identify any specific polling site, polling station or election officer or EDs. Our key findings and other observations are described below.
4.1 Performance of the duties and functions of election officers
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), electors who required a minor correction to their electoral information on the List of Electors (Correction Form) or electors who required an oath of residence to be administered prior to being issued a ballot.
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 our sample, the election officers generally obtained and 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 as an other observation. For secondary controls, a deviation of 11% or more was considered as an other observation.
4.3.1 It was observed that election officers did not consistently mark an elector as voted at the appropriate point in the process
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 Entries (for those electors not on the List of Electors). 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 before the elector cast their ballot while, in others, the PC marked the elector as having voted well after the elector had cast their ballot and left.
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.
4.3.2 It was observed that election officers did not consistently administer the required oaths
When special procedures, such as registration of an elector or minor corrections to an elector’s information, are required, a Registration Certificate and/or Correction Form must be filled out by the REGO/DRO and the required oaths must be administered by the DRO prior to processing the elector.
Our audit identified instances, above our reporting threshold, where election officers did not consistently administer the oaths or obtain the elector’s signature acknowledging that the elector took the required oath. This could create difficulties in identifying whether election officers are consistently administering the required oaths. Although this observation occurred above our reporting threshold, this is due to the fact that we observed a limited number of electors requiring the administration of special procedures across all three by-elections.
4.3.3 It was observed that, for special procedures requiring the use of a prescribed form to complete the processing of the elector, the Privacy Notice requirement was not administered in all cases
During our period of observation, we noted instances, above our reporting threshold, where the elector was not made aware of and/or provided a copy of the Privacy Notice prior to being asked to initial the respective section for the prescribed form acknowledging their awareness.
4.4 Assessment of administrative controls established by EC
Based on our discussions with EC during the planning phase of the engagement, it was confirmed that there were no significant changes to the overall design and delivery of the training program, including training and support materials (e.g. guidebooks), since the previous (December 3, 2018) by-election. Accordingly, we relied on our assessment of administrative controls in relation to the audit we conducted for the December 3, 2018 by-election held in Leeds—Grenville—Thousand Islands and Rideau Lakes as a basis for forming our conclusion.
For the February 25, 2019 by-elections, 1,283 resources were recruited and trained to work at advance and ordinary polls. This pool of resources included a redundancy factor to allow flexibility for those who dropped out in advance or did 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 officer in advance of taking on their responsibilities. The majority of election officers for these by-elections had previous experience in the general election and/or previous by-elections. Overall, feedback from election officers on the content of the training program and the format of how the training was delivered was positive. Further, they found the availability of the guidebooks and other aids useful in assuming their responsibilities and troubleshooting when they were unsure of how to proceed. Overall, it has been established that EC’s training program is comprehensive and effective for providing prescriptive guidance and support to the temporary workforce that is hired to work during each by-election.
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 three (3) independent audit reports on the performance of the duties and functions of election officials in relation to the 2015 general election, the 2016 by-election held in Medicine Hat—Cardston—Warner and the 2018 by-election in Leeds—Grenville—Thousand Islands and Rideau Lakes. Readers may refer to those reports for a list of recommendations stemming from the previous audits.