Independent audit report on the performance of the duties and functions of Election Officers – By-election May 6, 2019
3 Our approach
In order to provide reasonable assurance as to whether election officers performed their duties and functions as prescribed by the CEA, we selected a representative sample from across the ED and gathered sufficient and appropriate evidence to conclude on the audit objective. Evidence gathering techniques were comprised of direct observation, enquiries and inspection of election documents (representing the certificates, forms, reports and other paperwork required to serve an elector and document the results).
3.1 Approach to sample selection of polling sites
We selected a sample of polling sites within the ED. Our sample of polling sites was designed to reflect the population density and geography. For this by-election, the ED was comprised of a combination of rural and urban polling sites according to EC’s designation of polling divisions/sites. We selected a sample of urban and rural polling sites for the ED.
We conducted audit procedures, designed to test how election officers carried out specified duties, on site at polling stations at advance polls and on election day. The number of polling stations tested at each polling site varied to take into account electoral activity at the polling stations. Our testing procedures included observation of the duties of the election officers. We tested how election officers performed their duties with respect to 126 electoral interactions. There are certain inherent limitations to our audit approach, including:
- The presence of our auditors at polling stations observing the performance of election officers as they carried out their duties had the potential to affect the way in which election officers carried out their duties.
- Eligible voter population characteristics such as age, income, ethnic origin and Indigenous identity were not available at the polling division level. Accordingly, we based our sample on EC’s designation of polling divisions as urban, which may not be representative of current demographics and may not reflect the demographics of the population of election officers.
These factors were discussed with and disclosed to EC.
Accordingly, our sampling and testing approach was designed specifically to support our overall audit mandate as specified by legislation at an aggregate level. For this electoral event, a by-election was called in one ED. As requested by EC, our results are presented on an aggregate basis and do not identify particular officers, polling sites or stations.
3.2 Assessment of election officers’ compliance with legislative duties
In order to assess whether DROs, PCs and REGOs properly performed the duties imposed on them under the relevant sections of the Act, we determined that it was necessary to perform audit procedures on site at polling sites and stations at advance polls and on ordinary polling day held on May 6, 2019.
We observed the duties performed by the REGOs, DROs and PCs at a sample of polling sites for a sample of electors served during our period of observation to verify that the duties performed met the requirements of the CEA.
Our procedures were limited to observation without interacting or interfering with election officers as they were serving electors and administering their paperwork.
During advance polls, as well as on election day, we posed a series of questions to election officers to obtain their perspective on their training experience and supporting materials. We discuss our procedures in relation to our assessment of EC’s approach to training and support of election officers in the section that follows.
3.3 Assessment of EC’s approach to training and support of election officers
As we understood that there were no significant changes made to the forms, certificates and record keeping instructions provided to election officers since the previous by-elections, we performed limited procedures to assess EC’s approach to training and supporting election officers to prepare them for their roles in relation to the by-election, as follows:
- Made enquiries with EC to understand significant changes to the overall design and delivery of the training program for election officers.
- Made enquiries with EC as to the extent of changes, if any, to guides, manuals, videos and instructions (“training material”) provided to election officers in relation to their duties on advance and ordinary polling days to assess whether the information provided is complete, sufficient and appropriate for the effective discharge of their responsibilities.
- Conducted interviews with REGOs, DROs and PCs in a sample of polling sites to obtain an understanding of their perspectives on the effectiveness of the support, tools and guidance that were provided to prepare them for their role at advance polls and on ordinary polling day.