Independent audit report on the performance of the duties and functions of Election Officials – By-election June 18, 2018
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 polling site, polling station or Election Officials. 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 97% of electors voted in this manner in this by-election on an aggregate basis. The remaining 3% 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 It was observed that one Election Official did not strike off names of electors from the List of Electors.
Section 143 of the CEA stipulates that if the deputy returning officer is satisfied that an elector’s identity and residence have been proven, the elector’s name shall be crossed off the List of Electors and the elector shall be allowed to vote. This is typically evidenced by a line through the name of the elector on the List of Electors. If an elector is not on the List of Electors, the PC is required to record the name of the elector in the poll book and check the “Registration” column (or record the name on the Record of Votes Cast at advance polls and tick “not on list”). The CEA prescribes that this duty must be performed before the elector receives a ballot but after sufficient evidence has been provided for the elector’s identity and residence.
During the audit, we observed the verification of the elector’s identity and residence by the DRO. However, our audit identified instances, above our reporting threshold for a primary control, where one PC did not strike off the electors’ names from the List of Electors, but where they did check off the box indicating that the elector had voted. It was confirmed as part of a subsequent review of the relevant poll bag, at the EC Distribution Centre, that for the specific polling station, none of the electors marked as voted had been crossed 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 It was observed that Election Officials 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 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 all cases, the PC marked the elector as having voted before the elector cast their ballot.
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 one Election Official did not accurately complete the Record of Votes Cast.
Section 162 of the CEA stipulates that the PC must indicate that the elector has voted. 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.
Our audit identified instances, above our reporting threshold, where the PC was checking the incorrect box on the Record of Votes Cast form. This could provide inaccurate elector information in the event that there is a need to review the election forms at a later date.
4.3.3 It was observed that, at one polling station, the REGO rather than the PC completed the Statement of Electors Who Voted.
Canada Elections Act, Section 162 (i.2) stipulates that it is the duty of the PC to complete the Statement of Electors Who Voted (“Bingo Sheet”) which enables the identification of every elector who has exercised their right to vote on polling day (excluding electors who registered) and, on request, provide it to a candidate’s representative.
During our period of observation, we noted that, at one polling station, the REGO, not the PC, completed the Bingo Sheet.
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 June 18, 2018 by-election, approximately 563 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 the 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.