Final Report - Modernizing Ontario's Electoral Process V2 by yaohongm

VIEWS: 0 PAGES: 42

									                  Modernizing Ontario’s
                   Electoral Process:
                  Recommendations for
                   Legislative Change


 Chief Electoral Officer’s Submission to the Select Committee on Elections
                                       th
                            February 4 , 2009




Elections Ontario
51 Rolark Drive
Toronto, Ontario
M1R 3B1
1.888.668.8683
TTY: 1.888.292.2312
info@elections.on.ca
www.elections.on.ca
Mr. Greg Sorbara
Chair of the Select Committee on Elections
Queen’s Park
Toronto, Ontario M7A 1A2




Dear Mr. Chair:



It is with great pleasure that I provide the Select Committee on Elections with my
formal submission on recommended changes to the Election Act, Election Finances
Act and the Representation Act, 2005.

This report provides further information on the recommendations that I suggested when I
appeared before the Committee on December 4th, 2008.

I believe that the proposed amendments will help to modernize Ontario’s electoral process and
will allow Elections Ontario to prepare, administer, and deliver elections in ways that are
responsive to the needs of citizens and their local communities.


Respectfully submitted,


Greg Essensa
Chief Electoral Officer
Table of Contents
Table of Contents ............................................................................................................ 3
Introduction ..................................................................................................................... 4
Section One: Modernizing and Enhancing the Accessibility of the Electoral Process ..... 7
Section Two: Professionalizing the Election Workforce................................................. 14
Section Three: Protecting the Integrity of Elections ....................................................... 18
Section Four: Improving the Quality of the Voters’ List.................................................. 20
Section Five: Operating Improvements ......................................................................... 22
Section Six: Reforming Election Finances..................................................................... 26
Conclusion .................................................................................................................... 31
Summary of Recommendations .................................................................................... 32
Appendix A: Special Ballot Process .............................................................................. 34
Appendix B: Modern Service Delivery Model ................................................................ 36
Appendix C: Returning Officer Selection Process ......................................................... 39
Appendix D: Proposed Administrative Powers under the Election Finances Act ........... 41
Introduction
The following report expands on the presentation delivered by the Chief Electoral Officer to the
                                              th
Select Committee on Elections on December 4 , 2008. The Select Committee on Elections has
a mandate to consider the current effectiveness of the Election Act, the Election Finances Act
and the Representation Act, 2005 in the preparation, administration and delivery of elections in
Ontario.

The report provides further explanation of the Chief Electoral Officer’s recommendations, an
overview of practices in other jurisdictions, a comment on some of the other submissions
made to the Select Committee and greater detail as to how Elections Ontario would implement
its recommendations.

The recommendations in this report are grouped into six categories:
       Modernizing and Enhancing the Accessibility of the Electoral Process,
       Professionalizing the Election Workforce,
       Protecting the Integrity of Elections,
       Improving the Quality of the Voters’ List,
       Operating Improvements, and
       Reforming Election Finances.

The last time that the fundamental aspects of Ontario’s election law underwent a
comprehensive review was in 1968, more than forty years ago.

The Ontario of 2009 is not the same as the Ontario of 1968. Ontario’s social and cultural
environment has evolved and the electoral process needs to reflect this complex change. The
characteristics of the typical Ontario elector and the ways that Ontarians engage with the
political process are also changing and our election laws need to adapt to reflect this new
reality.

Since Ontario’s current election laws were first enacted, they have changed to respond to
specific issues. Amendments have ranged from political finance reforms in the late 1970’s,
changes to the redistribution process in the 1990’s, and, most recently, the introduction of fixed
election dates. The current laws have been amended incrementally over time and, as a result,
gaps and inconsistencies have arisen. Many of these issues have been raised in the reports
made by previous chief electoral officers and, in some instances, by the former Commission on
Election Finances. A comprehensive review, which is the mandate of the Select Committee,
continues the process of modernizing Ontario’s provincial elections.

The fundamental recommendation of this report is that Elections Ontario needs to have the
ability and flexibility in conjunction with Returning Officers to prepare, administer, and deliver
elections in ways that are responsive to the needs of citizens and their local communities.

In many instances, our laws do not afford the flexibility that is enjoyed federally, municipally, and
in other provinces. Such rigid requirements waste resources and frustrate the public and
election officials alike – particularly when such flexibility exists in the administration of Ontario’s
municipal elections.

The fact that our current election laws have been amended on so many occasions over the
years teaches us that our election laws need to be responsive to changing circumstances. Our
election laws need to move away from a narrow “one size fits all” approach to electoral
administration.

All of the recommendations in this report are based on three fundamental democratic
principles. Ontario’s election laws need to ensure that:
    1) Electors and participants in the electoral process are fully able to exercise their
        democratic electoral rights;
    2) Electors and participants in the electoral process are served in a modern, responsive,
        and efficient manner; and,
    3) Election officials are accountable and the process we administer is transparent
        and impartial.

It is important to strike an appropriate balance between these three principles. For example,
while every elector who wishes to vote should have a way of doing so, the integrity and scrutiny
of the voting process must not be compromised, and the process should not be prohibitively
expensive to administer.

In addition to the fundamental principles, the recommendations in this submission are also
guided by five key goals for reform. It is the hope of the Chief Electoral Officer that the
Committee will consider the following guidelines when making their recommendations.

1.      Combine the Election Act and Election Finances Act into one statute
The Election Act and the Election Finances Act should be combined into one statute so that the
Chief Electoral Officer is better able to coordinate the reporting and budgeting process. Since
Elections Ontario is currently governed by two statutes, it has to follow two separate statutory
reporting and budgeting frameworks. Combining the two pieces of legislation into one will
reduce inefficiencies as well as inconsistencies and confusion.

2.      Use clear language
Ontario’s election laws are used by a number of different groups ranging from election
professionals to candidates and political parties to campaign volunteers. The laws should be
written as clearly and as simply as possible so that they can be easily understood by all
stakeholders.

3.     Permissive rather than prescriptive legislation
The legislation should be as permissive as possible so that the Chief Electoral Officer and
Returning Officers have the flexibility to respond to the needs of local communities and adapt to
changing circumstances.

4.       Modernize the electoral process
It is essential that the election laws recognize the needs of a modern Ontario electorate and that
they place the elector at the centre of the democratic process. The adoption of advances in
technology and modern customer service models should be allowed by the legislation so that
voting is as easy and convenient as possible.

5       Ensure costeffectiveness
Any changes to the election laws should strive to make the electoral process as cost-effective
as possible. Ontarians deserve to have election legislation that uses taxpayer money as
efficiently and effectively as possible.
Now is the time to think about how Ontario’s election laws can be changed to ensure they meet
the needs of all Ontarians. The Committee’s comprehensive review will continue to help
modernize the election laws in Ontario and ensure that our democratic process remains among
the best in the world.
Section One: Modernizing and Enhancing the Accessibility of
the Electoral Process
When considering amendments to Ontario’s election laws, voters and their needs should be
put at the centre of the electoral process.

The electoral process should be as accessible as possible, so that all electors have an
opportunity to cast their ballots. Barriers that may prevent people from voting should be
removed and voting should be as easy and convenient as possible. At the same time, any
recommendations for changes to improve the accessibility of the democratic process must also
ensure that the integrity of the system is protected.

This section of the report provides recommendations to modernize the Election Act and improve
the accessibility of the voting process. It describes ways that the electoral process could be
modernized; through the use of customer service based voting procedures that will reduce line-
ups and staffing costs as well as through the use of technology that will allow electors with
disabilities to cast their ballots independently.

Flexibility in establishing advance voting days, hours and locations is also recommended. The
Chief Electoral Officer should have the discretion to determine, in conjunction with the local
Returning Officer, the advance vote strategy that best meets the needs of the local electorate.
What works well in downtown Toronto may not be the best strategy for the people of
Kapuskasing.

In addition, this section recommends a move towards consistency of practice between
federal, provincial and municipal election rules. Federal, provincial and municipal electoral
agencies all serve the same electors – and as such, the rules should be as consistent as
possible to remove the potential for confusion. In the submissions that the Committee
received from Returning Officers, ten identified the need for greater collaboration between the
practices of the various electoral agencies.

One way to help increase the consistency of practice is to move towards special ballots and
mobile polls which are already used federally and in many other provinces. Special ballots and
mobile polls would increase the accessibility of Ontario’s voting process by making it easier for
individuals who are away from their homes or in hospitals and nursing homes to cast their
ballots.

The recommendations in this section will help to ensure that all eligible electors are able to
easily participate in the democratic process.

Special Ballots and Mobile Polls

The Chief Electoral Officer recommends that the Election Act be amended to allow electors to
vote by special ballot.

The Chief Electoral Officer recommends that the Election Act be amended to allow for mobile
polls.
The Chief Electoral Officer recommends that Section 17 of the Election Act be amended to
eliminate proxy voting.

The electoral process should be as accessible as possible so that all electors have the
opportunity to cast their ballot. It is currently very difficult for some people to vote (for example,
students, electors with disabilities, individuals in nursing homes and hospitals, as well as military
and personnel on assignment). In Ontario, the only alternative currently available to people who
cannot vote during the advance vote or on election day is the proxy process. Proxy voting is a
complex, cumbersome process that is rarely used.

Proxy voting forces electors to give up the secrecy of their vote since they are required to
select another eligible elector to vote on their behalf. Electors have no guarantee that the
person they entrusted with their vote has actually cast the ballot in accordance with their
wishes.

Ontario electors are familiar with other alternative voting processes, such as the mail-in ballot
that is used in many municipal elections and the special ballot that is used during federal
elections. Ontario is the only jurisdiction in Canada that does not offer other methods of voting.
Considering Ontario’s increasingly mobile population, it would seem that a form of special ballot
would respond more effectively to the needs of electors than the proxy process and better
uphold the fundamental democratic principle of the secrecy of the ballot. Appendix A provides a
description of how Elections Ontario would implement a special ballot process.

In the submissions that the Committee received from the Returning Officers, twenty-five
Returning Officers recommended that special ballots be used in provincial elections.

Thirtythree Returning Officers also suggested another way to improve the accessibility of the
electoral process – through the use of mobile polls. A mobile poll is a process that allows a poll
to move between various locations, such as special care facilities, for a specified time period.

Voters in eleven provinces and territories, as well as in federal elections, are able to vote using
some form of mobile poll if they are unable to get to a voting location on election day. Only
Ontario and Yukon do not offer this method of voting.

The law should provide the flexibility for the Chief Electoral Officer, with input from Returning
Officers, to establish a process for mobile polls. In some electoral districts, particularly those
that have a large number of institutions and special care facilities, it may make sense for mobile
polls to operate during the advance vote so that all locations are properly served. In other
electoral districts where there are only a handful of facilities, it may be reasonable to operate the
mobile polls on election day.

Sections 90 and 91 of Saskatchewan’s Election Act provide an example of broad,
permissive powers that allow the Chief Electoral Officer and Returning Officers to establish
mobile polls to meet community needs.

The following principles would apply to mobile polling places:

      They would be available to institutions, hospitals, nursing homes and special care
       facilities with between 20 and 99 beds
      Places with more than 100 beds would have an all day voting location on election day
      Places with 19 or fewer beds would be served by special ballot
      The time that each mobile poll would spend at a facility would be determined by the
       Returning Officer
      Posters and other communications materials would be widely distributed to the mobile
       polling locations so that all residents were aware of the initiative
      Mobile polling places would remain at the location for an adequate period of time so that
       all electors had an opportunity to cast their ballot

A flexible approach to mobile polls will allow the Chief Electoral Officer and Returning Officers
to respond appropriately to the needs of local communities.

If the Legislature decides not to provide for mobile polls, then Returning Officers should be
given discretion by the Election Act to close the voting locations in hospitals and other
institutions earlier in the day and to bring the ballot box, ballots and supplies back to the
Returning Officer for counting after the close of the general polls. This would respond to the
concerns of administrators who have indicated that keeping the poll open for a prolonged
period of time causes too much disruption to the normal routine of the facility, upsetting the
residents.

Vouching

The Chief Electoral Officer recommends that Section 51 of the Election Act be amended so that
electors in all electoral districts can vote if someone vouches as to their identity.

The Election Act allows an elector in a rural polling division whose name is not on the voters’
list to take an oath of eligibility and receive a ballot if another elector, who lives in the same
polling division and is on the voters’ list and has identification, vouches for him or her. Vouching
was not used in the last provincial election since no polling divisions received the “rural”
designation.

If vouching is allowed, then it should be offered to all of Ontario’s electors – not just those living
in a rural area. One of the fundamental principles of democracy is that all electors are treated
fairly and consistently, therefore, the rules for receiving a ballot should apply to everyone.

As stricter identification rules have been introduced, a return to vouching should be considered.
An eligible elector, who has identification, should be able to vouch for no more than two voters
in order to establish their identification. The vouched voter would be required to sign a
declaration that he or she is eligible to vote and would not be able to vouch for anyone.

Many Returning Officers reported that contentious situations between election officials and
electors could have been avoided had this type of vouching provision been available during the
last election.

If the recommended changes are not acceptable to the Committee, then consideration should
be given to eliminating vouching entirely.

Vouching is permitted in federal elections, as well as in provincial elections in British
Columbia, Saskatchewan, and New Brunswick.

Voting and Vote-counting Processes and Technologies

The Chief Electoral Officer recommends that the Election Act be amended to allow for the use
of alternative voting equipment, vote-counting equipment and voting methods during both
general elections and by-elections.

Many different types of technology exist that allow for electors with disabilities to cast their ballot
independently. Currently, the Chief Electoral Officer only has the authority to employ these
types of accessibility technologies in by-elections. At the end of January 2009, the Chief
Electoral Officer announced his intention to pilot accessible voting technologies in all advance
voting locations for the upcoming by-election in Haliburton-Kawartha Lakes-Brock.

Electors should have access to accessibility technologies in general elections as well. All
electors should have the chance to cast their ballots in secret, without assistance.

Vote-counting and voting technologies could also help to simplify and modernize the way the
voting process is administered.

Modern Service Delivery Model

The Chief Electoral Officer recommends that the Election Act be amended to allow the Chief
Electoral Officer to establish appropriate staffing models and processes to be followed in the
voting locations.

The current, prescriptive election laws do not allow Elections Ontario to deliver the best
customer service possible to electors. Elections Ontario receives numerous complaints about
how, on election day, voters have to wait to be served at a table with many people in line in
front of them while other tables in the same location had no lineups.

Modernizing the Electoral Process

Under the current process, while several polling places may be established in one voting
location, the law requires that an elector can only be checked and issued a ballot by the two
election workers assigned to that elector’s polling division. This prescribed division of labour is
impractical for many locations and contributes to the bottlenecks which are of equal frustration
for electors, candidates, and election officials.

Change is needed to allow greater flexibility to use different staffing models and more modern
service delivery methods. This flexibility would provide more convenient, efficient service to
electors and would reduce wait times and lineups. It would also be more cost effective since the
voting locations would be able to operate with fewer election workers. The Municipal Elections
Act, 1996 currently provides Ontario’s municipal clerks with this type of flexibility.

Appendix B provides a detailed explanation of how Elections Ontario would implement a
modern service delivery model.
Residency Definition

The Chief Electoral Officer recommends that the residency definition in Section 1.1 of the
Election Act be amended to make it easier for students to determine where to vote.

Now that Ontario has moved to fixed date general election in October, a time when many post-
secondary students are living away from their family’s home, an amendment is required to
clarify the place of residence for students. Some students may wish to vote where their family
resides, however, just as many may desire to vote in the electoral district where they live to go
to college or university.

A definition related to students would greatly assist them and election officials to determine
where they can be considered a resident for electoral purposes.

Advance Vote

The Chief Electoral Officer recommends that Section 44 of the Election Act be amended to
allow the location, days and hours of the advance vote to be set at the discretion of the Chief
Electoral Officer and the Returning Officer for each electoral district.

In 2007, the Election Act was amended to provide for thirteen days of advance voting in fixed
date general elections. Returning offices had to be open for advance voting for all thirteen
days and additional locations were required to be open for ten days.

Although the dramatic increase in the number of advance voting days and locations increased
the accessibility of the process, the number of electors who took advantage of these additional
opportunities was relatively low in some areas. For example, in Ancaster-Dundas-
Flamborough-Westdale, 1,611 people voted at one advance poll while only 150 people voted
at another location in the district. In Parry Sound-Muskoka, two of the advance voting locations
had 1,604 and 1,485 voters, while another two locations only serviced 204 and 76 electors.

Modernizing the Electoral Process

It was very difficult for the Returning Officers to find people who were willing to work ten hours a
day for thirteen days straight. Finding locations was just as challenging for the Returning
Officers. Many landlords were unwilling to rent their space to Elections Ontario for such a long
period. School boards, municipalities and community groups did not want their space used for
advance voting since September is a key period for them when many of their activities start up
again after the summer months.

Almost all of the submissions that the Committee received from Returning Officers discussed
the difficulty they had in administering the advance vote.

The 2007 advance vote experience highlights the need for flexibility in determining the
advance vote hours, dates and locations. What works well in one electoral district may not be
the best option for another.
The Chief Electoral Officer recommends introducing flexibility to the advance voting process.
While it makes sense to keep the advance polls open in areas that have a high population, it
also makes sense to move advance polls from communities with a lower population after two
or three days and place them in another community. Allowing the poll to move would provide
the opportunity for many more electors to have access to a conveniently located advance poll.

Elections Ontario recognizes that new and different advertising and notification methods would
have to be used to ensure that the voters in a particular community know about their ability to
vote at a convenient advance poll.

Providing the Chief Electoral Officer with the flexibility to work with the Returning Officers to
establish the locations, days and hours of the advance polls will greatly assist electors and
provide them with enhanced access to this voting opportunity.

Ways to Improve the Accessibility of the Electoral Process

The Select Committee on Elections received a number of submissions from individuals
suggesting things that Elections Ontario could do to improve the accessibility of the electoral
process.

Many of the suggestions can be implemented without legislative amendments, but the
Chief Electoral Officer wanted to mention them in this report to highlight some of the
initiatives that Elections Ontario undertakes to ensure that all electors have a chance to
participate in the democratic process.

Training Programs
All election workers receive training on how to perform their duties. The training will be revised
to increase the amount of training that all election workers receive so that they are more aware
of the barriers some electors may face as a result of a disability and the processes that are in
place to ensure that all eligible electors are able to cast their ballots.

Partnerships
Elections Ontario was recently restructured and now has a specialized Communications and
Outreach division. This division will be responsible for forming partnerships with stakeholders
and increasing the degree of consultation that Elections Ontario undertakes with a variety of
stakeholders including organizations representing electors with disabilities, community
associations and other levels of government. These partnerships will help Elections Ontario to
develop outreach initiatives that will fulfill the organization’s expanded legislated mandate to
provide programs to assist those who may face barriers to voting.

Improved Public Education Campaign
Elections Ontario now has the legislated responsibility to conduct public education campaigns in
both election and non-election years. The Chief Electoral Officer strongly believes that Elections
Ontario should conduct public education on a continual basis – not just in election years. As a
result, staff are developing new ongoing education programs that will ensure all electors are
aware of their democratic voting rights and responsibilities.

Access to Information
The Elections Ontario website was redesigned for the 2007 general election to ensure that it
was in compliance with the Priority 1 checkpoints of the Accessibility Directorate of Ontario’s
W3C Web Accessibility Initiative Guidelines.

Elections Ontario provides information in a variety of formats including translation to thirty-
five languages, plain language, large print, Braille and audio versions on CD or cassette.

Accessible Offices
Elections Ontario’s main office and all returning offices have level access and comply with the
current accessibility standards. As new accessibility standards are introduced, Elections
Ontario will make any necessary changes to ensure the main office remains compliant with
the changing standards.
Section Two: Professionalizing the Election Workforce

A successful election relies on the knowledge and ability of the individuals running the returning
offices, working in the voting places and those behind the scenes supporting the front line
                                 th
workers. As mentioned in the 39 General Election Report, it is becoming increasingly difficult to
attract qualified, experienced people to work on election day.

This section of the report describes the Chief Electoral Officer’s recommendations
for professionalizing the election workforce.

A professional workforce, one that is hired based on ability and merit, will help protect the
integrity and increase public confidence in the electoral process. Electors need reassurance
that the election officials responsible for administering the election are independent and
impartial.

While the Chief Electoral Officer is responsible for delivering Ontario’s provincial election, he
does not have the power to hire one of the most important members of the election team – the
Returning Officers.

In addition to the hiring ability, the Chief Electoral Officer should also have the power to
establish the fees that are paid to election officials to ensure they are within Management
Board of Cabinet guidelines.

A professionalized election workforce will ensure that qualified people, who have the necessary
knowledge, experience, problem-solving and customer service skills, are responsible for
delivering Ontario’s elections and meeting the needs of our diverse stakeholders.

Returning Officer Selection

The Chief Electoral Officer recommends that Sections 7 and 8 of the Election Act be amended
so that the Chief Electoral Officer is responsible for selecting Returning Officers and Election
Clerks through a transparent, nonpartisan process where individuals are chosen on merit,
based on their qualifications and experience.

Returning Officers are integral to the delivery of an election. They are responsible for
administering the election within their electoral district. Returning Officers require a diverse skill
set since their duties include:
     using complex computer and data systems to manage their business, including the
        voters’ list,
     recruiting, training and managing approximately 1,000 election workers,
     coordinating with landlords for the use of voting locations,
     building relationships with diverse community groups, and
     managing a large office budget.

Returning Officers are held to a specific event calendar and they must have all of the
various components of the election in place in time for voting day. It is an extremely
stressful and demanding role.
Yet, despite the important role that Returning Officers play in the delivery of the election, the
Election Act does not provide a clear set of qualifications for a Returning Officer. The law
only specifies that the individual must be of voting age, a Canadian citizen and a resident of
Ontario. There are also no clear criteria which allow for the removal of Returning Officers
who the Chief Electoral Officer feels have not adequately performed their duties.

The Election Act currently provides that the Lieutenant Governor in Council appoints the
Returning Officer for each electoral district.

For many years, the Chief Electoral Officer was only advised of the appointment of the
Returning Officer when he received a copy of the order in council. In the mid1980’s, this process
changed when the Chief Electoral Officer was asked to meet with each candidate for the
position of Returning Officer. This process continued for the 1999 and 2003 General Elections
when the Deputy Chief Electoral Officer met with each of the candidates to ensure that they
understood the responsibilities of the position and to make the candidates aware of the time
commitment required. Meeting the potential Returning Officers prior to their appointment
reduced the number of withdrawals that occurred when new Returning Officers attended training
for the first time and were overwhelmed by the level of responsibility that was assigned to them
under the Election Act.

Before the 2007 election, the Chief Electoral Officer was permitted to confirm the abilities of
the proposed Returning Officers. Elections Ontario sent each candidate a package containing
information on the provincial electoral process and the legislation. Each candidate was asked
to study the material and then take an online test that asked them questions on different
areas of expertise. If the candidate passed the test, then they could be appointed. In a
number of cases, once the candidates read the material and became aware of what was
expected of them, they withdrew and there were delays in finding another candidate.

Given the responsibilities and skill sets that Returning Officers require, the Chief Electoral
Officer would like to be able to mount an open and competitive process for selecting Returning
Officers. The Chief Electoral Officers of Canada, British Columbia, Saskatchewan, Manitoba,
Quebec, Newfoundland and Labrador, Northwest Territories and Nunavut are all responsible for
appointing Returning Officers.

In their submissions to the Select Committee, fifteen of the Returning Officers agreed that the
process for selecting Returning Officers should be examined and that it should be a merit-
based competition with the Chief Electoral Officer being responsible for the final selection.
Only three submissions believed that the process should remain the same.

Appendix C provides a detailed description of how the Chief Electoral Officer would implement
an open and competitive selection process.

Election Official Selection

The Chief Electoral Officer recommends that Section 39 of the Election Act be amended so that
the Returning Officer in each electoral district is permitted to appoint the election officials who
will report to him or her.

The Chief Electoral Officer recommends removing the requirement for election officials to live in
the electoral district where they are working.

The Chief Electoral Officer recommends that all references to Deputy Returning Officers and
Poll Clerks be removed and replaced with Election Officials.

It is becoming increasingly difficult to recruit qualified individuals who are able to handle long
hours and who have the problem-solving skills required to function in a fast-paced, high-
pressure election environment.

In their submissions to the Select Committee on Elections, twenty-one Returning Officers
highlighted the need for Returning Officers to be able to select and appoint election
workers without waiting for a list from the candidates.

On average, Returning Officers are responsible for hiring and training approximately 1,000
election workers. Having to wait until ten days before election day, in some instances, to receive
names from candidates places an unnecessary risk on the electoral process. Properly staffing
the voting locations is one of the Returning Officer’s main responsibilities. They should not have
to be under such pressure in the days before election day to find and train sufficient numbers of
staff.

The hiring process for election officials should be a nonpartisan process that Returning
Officers are able to begin at the start of the 28day election period. Recruiting throughout the
election period will mean that Returning Officers are able to more effectively use their time
during the crucial final days before election day.

The Chief Electoral Officer also recommends removing the requirement for election officials to
live in the electoral district where they are working. Many Returning Officers experience difficulty
in trying to appoint election officials from only their own electoral district. The difficulty could
arise from the number of people available to work or because of geographic issues within the
district. During the last two general elections, the former Chief Electoral Officer used his
emergency powers under Section 4 of the Act to permit over half of the Returning Officers to
appoint election officials from outside their respective electoral district.

Many other Canadian jurisdictions (British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan,
Manitoba, Newfoundland, and Yukon) hire their election officials using a nonpartisan
process.

To allow for the implementation of the modern service delivery model, all references to
Deputy Returning Officers and Poll Clerks should be removed and replaced with Election
Officials.

Payment of Election Officials

The Chief Electoral Officer recommends that Section 112 of the Election Act be amended to
allow the Chief Electoral Officer to set the fees for election officials.

In their submissions to the Select Committee, fifteen Returning Officers recommended that
the wages paid to the various election workers be reviewed. A number of Returning Officers
commented on how inequitable wages negatively affected office morale.
Pay rates and expenses are prescribed in a regulation made by the government under the
Election Act. Until the fees and expenses regulation was revised in 2007, the Chief Electoral
Officer had been required to operate on a regulation that was seventeen years old. Between
2003 and 2007, ten by-elections had to be administered using fees that had been established in
1990.

In order to avoid this situation in future, the Chief Electoral Officer should be given the authority
to establish the fees and expenses, using a system of benchmarks, job descriptions and rates
paid within the larger Ontario government framework, as established by Management Board of
Cabinet guidelines. The amounts paid to election officials would therefore be consistent with
other people who serve the public.

Allowing the Chief Electoral Officer to set fees and expenses, along with the ability to design
new staffing models, would ensure that elections are delivered in a modern, efficient and cost-
effective way.
Section Three: Protecting the Integrity of Elections

In order to have confidence in the electoral process, the public needs to be assured of the
integrity of the electoral system.

In many ways, election administrators are always seeking a balance between ensuring the
accessibility of the vote and the integrity of the process. An example of this balance between
integrity and accessibility is deciding whether or not electors should have to show
identification through various aspects of the election process. In 2007, Ontario moved
towards requesting electors to provide identification to establish their residence and identity.

Another way in which the integrity of the process can be protected is by establishing a clear
and transparent process for examining the redistribution of electoral districts. Electoral district
boundaries need to be periodically updated to avoid population inequities across districts.

This section of the report describes two ways in which the integrity of the electoral process
might be protected.

The first is through inclusive identification requirements and allowing the health card to be used
as identification for voting purposes.

The second way is through a formalized boundary redistribution process that will ensure that
all electors have adequate representation within the Legislative Assembly.

Identification Requirements

The Chief Electoral Officer recommends keeping Ontario’s current identification requirements
and amending Section 4.2(1) of the Election Act to permit individuals to use their health cards
as identification for voting purposes.

Identification requirements are one way that Elections Ontario helps to protect the integrity of
the electoral process.

In 2007, the Election Act was amended and new identification measures were introduced
requiring each elector to show proof of identity in order to obtain a ballot. Electors who did not
have documentary proof had to make a statutory declaration in order to receive a ballot and to
vote.

The Election Act currently allows the Chief Electoral Officer to determine what specific
documents, or class of documents, may serve as acceptable proof of identity and place of
residence. This aspect of the legislation worked well in the 2007 election as it allowed the Chief
Electoral Officer to establish provisions for individuals that may have difficulty obtaining
identification. For example, in hospitals and institutions with bedside voting, the Chief Electoral
Officer permitted hospital identification bracelets as acceptable proof. In addition, a special
Certification of Identity and Residence form was created to serve as documentary proof for
homeless persons, residents of women’s shelters and members of Aboriginal reserve
communities who may not have the specified identification. The form had to be signed by the
elector and by the administrator of a shelter, drop-in centre or by a representative of a Band
Council.

When the Chief Electoral Officer appeared before the Select Committee, the Committee
members asked him to comment on aspects of the Canada Elections Act that he would not want
to see implemented in Ontario. Identification requirements are one area where the Chief
Electoral Officer would like to keep the provincial rules and he does not recommend adopting
the federal model. The federal model is more restrictive in the types of identification it allows
and the Chief Electoral Officer advises that Ontario’s more inclusive identification requirements
better serve electors.

To make Ontario’s identification requirements even more inclusive, the Chief Electoral Officer
requests the law be amended to allow election officials to ask electors to show provincially-
issued identification cards, including health cards, notwithstanding subsection 34(4) of the
Personal Health Information Protection Act, 2004. The law would need to be clear that electors
are not forced to show their health cards if they do not want to. Clarifying the law to allow heath
cards to be used as identification for voting purposes will make it easier for electors who do not
have a driver’s licence to provide proof of identity.

Electoral District Redistribution

The Chief Electoral Officer recommends that the Representation Act, 2005 be amended to
provide a regular, scheduled process for reviewing electoral district boundaries.

For the democratic process to be truly representative, a system for maintaining the fair
and balanced distribution of electoral district boundaries is essential.

The Representation Act, 2005 provides that Ontario’s electoral map has 107 electoral districts,
but it does not explain how the map will be adjusted in the future. The process and timetable for
the future redistribution of provincial electoral districts needs to be established. Every other
jurisdiction in Canada has a regular schedule and process for future redistribution.

Redistribution is a major undertaking that affects not only election planning and staffing, but
also requires extensive efforts from the parties to manage their constituency associations and
their finances before an election.

The Chief Electoral Officer recommends that Ontario establishes a process and a set schedule
for electoral boundary readjustment.
Section Four: Improving the Quality of the Voters’ List

One of the key elements providing legitimacy to an election is an accurate, current and
reliable voters’ list.

Traditionally in Canada, the government has assumed responsibility for the collection of
electoral data for the preparation of the voters’ lists. This is in contrast with the practice in other
parts of the world, such as the United States, which places the onus on the elector to take the
necessary action to ensure their name is included in the voters’ list.

This section of the report discusses two ways to improve the quality of the voters’ list. The first
is through the creation of a single address authority for Ontario. The second is enhancing
Elections Ontario’s access to information sources.

If implemented, these recommendations would greatly improve the accuracy of the
Permanent Register of Electors for Ontario from which the voters’ list is compiled.

Address Authority

The Chief Electoral Officer recommends that a single address authority be established for
Ontario.

In Ontario, municipalities are responsible for creating the addressing conventions for the land
parcels in their regions. The result is 444 different naming conventions across the province –
since each municipality establishes its own practice.

The lack of a central address authority in Ontario creates significant challenges for an
electoral registration process. Without accurate addressing information, it becomes almost
impossible in certain parts of the province to adequately ensure that an elector has been
placed at the appropriate location for them to exercise their democratic franchise.

Part of the addressing difficulty arises because people provide different versions of their
address to different service providers. For example, an elector may use the 911 version of their
address when completing their taxes, but use the rural route version of the address on their
driver’s licence and use their Canada Post mailing address on their health card. That one
elector could appear in the voters’ list three different times, in three different ways and this
makes it very difficult for Elections Ontario to determine where they actually reside and to assign
them to the most convenient voting location for their address.

By establishing a single address authority in Ontario, inconsistent naming conventions of land
parcels would be reduced and more accurate register information could be maintained. This
would reduce voter confusion and frustration as electors could be assigned to the correct polling
division. A single address authority would also improve the accuracy of the information provided
to parties and candidates. The single address authority would not only benefit Elections Ontario,
but also other parts of the government that require up-to-date addressing information such as
the Ministry of Transportation and the Ministry of Health and Long Term Care.
Access to Data

The Chief Electoral Officer recommends that Section 17.1(4) of the Election Act be amended to
permit Elections Ontario to collect information about ‘soon to be’ electors and that the Ministry of
Education be required to provide Elections Ontario with the name, address and birth date of
grade 12 students.

The Chief Electoral Officer recommends that Section 17.1(4) of the Election Act be amended to
make it easier for the Ministry of Health and Long Term Care to share their information with
Elections Ontario for the purpose of maintaining the Permanent Register of Electors for Ontario.
The Permanent Register of Electors for Ontario (PREO) is only as accurate as its source
data. In order to ensure that PREO is as up-to-date and complete as possible, Elections
Ontario requires information from a variety of different sources.

Improving the Quality of the Voters’ List

Historically, it has been difficult for Elections Ontario to obtain information on ‘new’ electors –
those individuals who have just turned eighteen. Recent research has shown that, for some,
voting is a habit and that individuals who vote when they are first eligible are more likely to vote
in the future. As such, the Chief Electoral Officer would like to recommend that the Ministry of
Education be required to provide Elections Ontario with information on grade 12 students on an
annual basis.

The student information would allow Elections Ontario to conduct a comprehensive outreach
initiative and provide ‘soon-to-be’ electors with information on the voter registration process and
the voting process. This program would provide students with the opportunity to register as
voters and would help them to understand how to exercise their right to vote.

Elections Quebec has one of the most accurate voters’ lists in the country and the main source
of information for its list is health card data. Ontario’s Chief Electoral Officer would like to make
it as easy as possible to obtain names, addresses and birth date information from the Ministry
of Health and Long Term Care for the purpose of maintaining PREO.
Section Five: Operating Improvements

There are a number of archaic practices mentioned in the Election Act, such as having
Returning Officers read the entire writ aloud, that can be removed when the new statute is
created.

In addition, a new plain language statute can clarify and correct a number of inconsistencies
that have arisen from the incremental legislative changes that have occurred over the years. For
example, in some places in the Election Act, the counting of days in the election counts
forwards from the day a writ is issued. Section 9.1(5) prescribes that “Polling day shall be the
fifth Thursday after the date of the writ”. Advance poll days, in contrast, are calculated by
counting backwards from election day. For example, in a fixed date general election, area
advance polls are described in clause 44(2)(b) as being required “on the 15th, 14th, 13th, 12th,
11th, 10th, ninth, eighth, seventh and sixth days before polling day”. If the current advance vote
dates remain the same, it would be far simpler to say area advance polls “shall be held for ten
                        th
days starting on the 14 day after the date of the writ”.

Also, there are housekeeping items that need to be addressed. Some provisions of the Election
Act need to be repealed because either the courts have struck them down or they are spent. For
example, subsections 27(5) and (6) were struck down by the Superior Court of Justice in
October 2007 (see De Jong v. Ontario (Attorney General) [2007] O.J. No. 4041). The Election
Act is also a patchwork quilt of numbering given that so many provisions have been added and
repealed since the last consolidation of the law in 1990.

These inconsistencies make the law unnecessarily complex and confusing for the public,
parties, and administrators alike. The Chief Electoral Officer would be happy to work with the
Select Committee to identify these types of improvements in the drafting process for any new
legislation.
This section of the report provides an overview of a number of different recommendations that
will improve the administration of elections in Ontario including:

      changing voting day,
      allowing a more permissive framework for the design and storage of ballots,
      providing the Chief Electoral Officer with expanded recommendation powers, and
      establishing a delay for election-related legislative amendments that are introduced six
       months before a general election.

The recommended operational improvements will help to ensure that Ontario’s election
is administered successfully.

Change Voting Day

The Chief Electoral Officer recommends amending Subsection 9.1(5) of the Election Act to
change voting day to a time when schools are not in session (e.g. weekend or school holiday).

In the 2007 general election, approximately thirty percent of the population voted in a school
gymnasium or cafeteria. Schools best fit the criteria set out by the Election Act for the
establishment of voting locations: they are conveniently located, they usually provide a large
space such as a gymnasium, electors are familiar with their location and they usually provide
access for persons with disabilities.

However, it is becoming increasingly difficult for Returning Officers to use schools as voting
locations. In the 2007 general election, Returning Officers faced unprecedented levels of
resistance from school boards, concerned with the issue of the safety of their students as the
polls are open during school hours. Elections Ontario understands and shares the school
boards’ concerns and, where necessary, undertook an additional expense to hire security to
ensure that students would be safe on election day. In their submissions to the Select
Committee, twenty-five Returning Officers highlighted the need for a school holiday on election
day.
If voting day was moved to a weekend, or a province-wide school holiday was established on
election day, then Elections Ontario would be better able to use schools, which are ideal voting
locations, and there would be no concern for student safety since classes would not coincide
with voting.

Many democracies around the world hold their elections on the weekend. As voter turnout
declines, it may be worth noting that other democracies hold their elections on the weekend and
have a much higher voter turnout rate than Canada. For example, New Zealand holds its
general elections on a Saturday and France holds its general elections on a Sunday. Holding
elections on the weekend would be much more convenient for many electors and could
potentially have a positive impact on Ontario’s voter turnout rate.

Holding the election at a time when school is not in session would also allow for teachers to
be recruited as election officials. Given the difficulty that Returning Officers are having
finding qualified staff, having access to teachers would be very beneficial.

Ballots

The Chief Electoral Officer recommends that Sections 33 and 34 of the Election Act be
amended to allow the Chief Electoral Officer to design the ballot.

The only form that is described in detail in the Election Act is the ballot. As a result, the Chief
Electoral Officer is restricted from designing a ballot that meets the needs of the diverse
electorate, encompassing those with disabilities, who are elderly or who have difficulty
reading.

Operating Improvements

Municipally, clerks in Ontario have far more flexibility to design the ballots for municipal
elections then is available provincially. The Chief Electoral Officer should have a similar level of
flexibility to design an appropriate ballot that meets the needs of all electors.

Another example of where a more permissive approach is required is in the provisions
governing how ballot paper is to be stored. Subsection 3 of Section 33 of the Election Act states
that ballot paper must be stored under “lock and key”. This level of detail is not necessary. It
would be far more effective to say that ballot paper must be store in “secure conditions” and
provide some discretion to the Chief Electoral Officer. This flexibility would allow the Chief
Electoral Officer make appropriate arrangements with Returning Officers so that modern
security methods (such as electronic cards) could be used to ensure the security of the ballot
paper.

Expanded Recommendation Powers

The Chief Electoral Officer recommends that Section 4.4 of the Election Act be amended to
provide the Chief Electoral Officer with the statutory authority to study and report on all matters
related to the field of election administration, election finance and voter registration.

Currently, the Chief Electoral Officer has the authority, when he reports annually to the
Legislative Assembly, to make recommendations he considers advisable to the Election Act and
the Election Finances Act. Under the Election Act, the Chief Electoral Officer also has a specific
responsibility to publicly report to the Speaker on suggested amendments after pilots held
during by-elections.

However, the Chief Electoral Officer does not currently have broad statutory authority to study
and report on all matters related to the field of election administration, election finance and voter
registration that he believes or agrees is important to review (e.g. how the administration of
federal/provincial/municipal elections could be rationalized). A legislative change would be
needed to provide him with this mandate.

Consideration should be given to providing the Chief Electoral Officer with the authority to
study and report on any policy issues that affect the general administration of federal,
provincial and municipal elections in Ontario. He should also have the power to hold meetings
and symposia on election related topics.

Election Year Legislative Amendments Delay

The Chief Electoral Officer recommends that election-related legislative amendments that are
introduced within six months of a general election should not come into effect until the next
election.

Conducting Ontario’s provincial elections requires years of advance planning and logistical
support. Last minute election-related legislative amendments increase the risk to the electoral
process since they require Elections Ontario to change direction and administer the election in
a manner that had

Operating Improvements

not been anticipated. Election-related legislative amendments often require additional
expenses and resources and cause a great deal of stress for both Elections Ontario and the
Returning Officers.

The Chief Electoral Officer recommends the creation of a provision in the legislation that would
delay the application of election-related legislative amendments introduced six months before a
general election unless the Chief Electoral Officer places a notice in the Ontario Gazette that it
is possible for the changes to be implemented. The delay will help protect the integrity of the
process and ensure that Ontario’s elections are administered successfully. Elections Canada
and Elections Quebec each have a similar provision in their legislation.
Section Six: Reforming Election Finances

Combining the Election Act and the Election Finances Act will correct the inconsistencies that
currently exist in the provisions between the two Acts that govern the nomination, registration
and endorsement of candidates. Currently, nominations close far in advance of election day,
but registration is technically permitted up to the day before election day. The discrepancies
between the two Acts confuse candidates and make the administration of an election unduly
complicated. Combining the two statutes will eliminate problems arising from the
inconsistencies in having two pieces of legislation.

This section of the report describes the amendments that are required to the Election Finances
Act. The Chief Electoral Officer recommends that the Election Finances Act be updated to
reflect modern banking and accounting practices.

In keeping with the goal of having election laws that are written in as clear language as
possible, some definitions in the Election Finances Act (e.g. campaign expenses) should be
clarified so that they are easily understood by all of the stakeholders who use the legislation.

The recommendations also suggest ways that the election year financial filing process might
be streamlined to simplify and reduce the amount of work required from volunteer chief
financial officers.

The Chief Electoral Officer is also proposing that spending limits be released earlier in the
campaign process so that all candidates and political parties are aware of the spending
limits before the campaign begins.

In addition, this section addresses the need for the Chief Electoral Officer to have a wide
variety of compliance measures, such as administrative penalties, available to him in order to
ensure compliance with the financial filing rules and deadlines.

Finally, the Chief Electoral Officer is recommending that he be granted the authority to
assemble a body of experts to study and consult on contribution, expense, spending and
advertising rules.

Nomination and Registration Processes

The Chief Electoral Officer recommends that the Election Act and the Election Finances Act be
combined to facilitate the adoption of a more efficient nomination and registration process as
used in British Columbia.

To run as a candidate in Ontario, a person must currently file two sets of papers: a nomination
paper under the Election Act and a registration application under the Election Finances Act. The
former document can only be filed with a Returning Officer within a specified timeframe in the
writ period. The latter document can only be filed with the Chief Electoral Officer but they can be
filed before a writ is issued and up to the day before election day. These disparate requirements
cause confusion and pose challenges for candidates and election officials alike.
A more practical and candidate-friendly approach is adopted in British Columbia. In that
province, candidates can, in effect, pre-file their nomination/election finance papers with the
Chief Electoral Officer at any time before writs are issued; they are called “Standing
Nominations” and only become activated once an election is called. Their legislation builds in an
alternative process as well. After the writs are issued for an election, nomination/election finance
papers can only be filed with the District Electoral Officer (the equivalent of a Returning Officer).

Modern Banking Practices

The Chief Electoral Officer recommends that Section 16.2 of the Election Finances Act be
amended to allow for modern banking practices such as debit cards and electronic transfers of
monies.

Subsection 16(2) The Election Finances Act specifically limits the manner in which
contributions over $25 may be paid. The law states that such contributions may only be
accepted by cheque, money order, or credit card. It does not allow for the receipt of the
electronic transfer of funds by debit cards, online banking, or electronic transfers.

The current restrictions are outdated. Technology has come a long way since the Election
Finances Act was introduced. People are now accustomed to shopping and paying their bills
electronically from anywhere in the world. Ontario’s election finances legislation has not kept
pace with these changes in technology.

If the underlying purpose of the law is to provide transparency to the political contribution
process by requiring a verifiable source of funds, then that purpose could be satisfied through
modern banking methods such as the use of a debit card and other forms of electronic
transfer.

The law should be amended to allow parties, candidates and constituency associations to
accept contributions using modern banking practices. The use of debit cards and online
donations (e.g. through PayPal) would modernize Ontario’s election finance processes which in
turn could lead to greater transparencies and efficiencies.

Streamlined Financial Reporting Process

The Chief Electoral Officer recommends that the Election Finances Act be amended to reduce
the number of statements that candidates, parties and constituency associations are required to
file in an election year.

The reporting requirements of the Election Finances Act should be reviewed. Currently, the
law requires separate filings for annual filings and campaign filings.

With the adoption of fixed date elections, and the consequent change in spending patterns,
central party income and spending for campaign and campaign years should be reported
together – not at different times and in separate statements as the law currently requires.

Similarly, the multiple filings required at the local level for candidates and for constituency
association income and spending for campaign and campaign years should be revisited.
Currently, these reports can be filled out by different chief financial officers and can be filed at
different times. In practical terms, many of these filings are filled out by the same person, who
is usually a volunteer, and filed with Elections Ontario at the same time. From the perspective
of Elections Ontario, it does not assist the review process to review three separate filings.

Having the same chief financial officer report on annual, campaign, and candidate income and
expenses would reduce the work that may be performed by as many as three separate people.
It could also reduce the need and expense of having three separate auditors review a return
before it is filed.

Calculation of Spending Limits

The Chief Electoral Officer recommends that the Election Finances Act be amended so that the
campaign spending limits are released before the writ.

At present, spending limits are linked to the final elector count that is released after an election.
In effect, that means that candidates and parties do not know how much they can spend on their
election campaigns, until after the election.

Spending limits should be set before an election or right at the outset of the election period.
Establishing spending limits earlier in the process would benefit chief financial officers,
auditors and Elections Ontario by eliminating the risk that campaigns may unknowingly go
over their spending limits.

Federally, the base amount of a candidate’s election expenses is the higher of either the
preliminary list of electors or the revised list of electors. Elections Ontario could establish a
similar practice so that candidates and parties know the minimum election expense in advance.

The Chief Electoral Officer suggests that spending limits be set at the same time as the annual
Permanent Register for Electors in Ontario (PREO) release.

Compliance Measures

The Chief Electoral Officer recommends that the Election Finances Act be amended so that the
Chief Electoral Officer has the power to levy administrative penalties.

The law needs to include a greater range of administrative measures to encourage and
obtain compliance through means other than just prosecution.

The failure to file financial statements on a timely basis is the most common compliance
problem faced by Elections Ontario. The delays in filing seen in the past year are problematic
because this hinders the review of returns and the refunding of campaign expenses. The delays
in the last year, which are consistent with previous years, were as follows:

1) Campaign Returns for Parties, Candidates, and Associations were supposed to be filed
by April 10, 2008. As of that date only:
     10 of 12 party returns were filed
     435 of 605 candidate returns (72%) were filed
     228 of 409 association returns (56%) were filed
2) Annual Returns for parties and associations were supposed to be filed by May 31,
2008 (effectively June 2, 2008). As of that date only:
    11 of 12 party annual returns were filed
    296 of 409 association annual returns (72%) were filed

Failures to file happen with every party and these failures are reported regularly to the
registered party concerned.

Candidates who are elected, but fail to file their campaign financial statements, are reported to
the Speaker and the Legislative Assembly may vote on whether the person is required to forfeit
his or her seat. A candidate who fails to file is also barred from running again for office in the
next general election. These are severe penalties, seldom if ever used, and are not effective in
ensuring compliance. As a result of the filing delays in the last year, 14 associations were
deregistered several weeks after the filing deadline for failing to file campaign and/or annual
returns within the required timeframe and 15 candidates, who were not elected, are barred from
running in the next general election.

At the federal level, Elections Canada, has extensive means of enhancing compliance without
having to prosecute minor or technical infractions. People and entities that breach some
reporting and other requirements may be asked, for instance, to enter into formal public
agreements with the Commissioner of Canada Elections to meet certain deadlines.

The Election Finances Act could be amended to allow Elections Ontario to levy small
administrative fines or penalties for delays in filing, impose temporary suspensions on election
finance activities, or issue public reprimands to discourage negligent behaviour. At present, no
such tools are provided to Elections Ontario. Formally, Elections Ontario is only able to report
those who appear to have wilfully violated the law to the Attorney General for prosecution. Apart
from deregistration, penalties can now only be imposed upon conviction. Broader powers could
be put to good use to encourage compliance and to instil public confidence in the election
finance system.

Appendix D provides a detailed explanation of the administrative powers that the Chief
Electoral Officer is proposing.

Contribution, Expense, Spending and Advertising Rules

The Chief Electoral Officer recommends that if the Chief Electoral Officer is empowered with the
ability to commission expert reports on particular matters, then he could be mandated to
assemble a body of experts to study and consult on contribution, expense, spending and
advertising rules.

The foundations of the current contribution, expense, and spending rules were established over
thirty years ago and have been amended over time. As other jurisdictions have done (federally
and in Manitoba) it would be desirable to have independent experts review and consult on the
fundamental principles of the contribution system to determine if the current provisions serve the
public and the participants in a fashion consistent with its intended purposes and underlying
principles.

An independent body of experts, established by the Chief Electoral Officer, could review
these matters and report back independent recommendations to the Legislative Assembly
on contribution, expense, spending and advertising rules.

Spending on political advertising constitutes a very significant portion of party, constituency
association, and candidate spending. Political advertising, which ranges from traditional forms
of advertising to those emerging in the electronic/digital age, is one of the primary means by
which parties and candidates communicate with the electorate. The current advertising rules
and restrictions rules (ranging from blackout periods to authorization requirements) were
established over thirty years ago and, while they have been amended over time, they have not
kept pace with the advances in communications.

This gap in the legislation leads to confusion and conflict between candidates, political parties
and administrators who have differing perspectives about how the legislation applies to
technological communication methods such as websites, blogs and social networking tools.
Clarification and clear definitions would help alleviate these types of problems.
Conclusion
The Select Committee’s comprehensive review of Ontario’s election laws is an essential step
in modernizing our electoral process.

The Chief Electoral Officer appreciates having the opportunity to be a part of this important
initiative and hopes that the Committee members find the recommendations contained in
this report to be informative and helpful in their deliberations.

The Chief Electoral Officer would also like to thank the Returning Officers who took the time to
provide the Select Committee with their recommendations and comments. The Returning
Officers offer a vital perspective and their experience and insights should be recognized.

The Select Committee members should be congratulated for their dedication and efforts to
ensure that Ontario’s election laws meet the needs of all the stakeholders – the electors,
political parties, candidates and administrators.

The Chief Electoral Officer thanks the Select Committee for its willingness to hear from both
the former and current administrators and to consider all perspectives in its work.

While Ontario’s electoral processes are among the best in the world, there is always room for
improvement. A new statute, one that combines the Election Act and the Election Finances Act
and is written in plain language, will help to simplify and clarify Ontario’s electoral legislative
framework. Permissive language will also allow Elections Ontario to prepare, administer, and
deliver elections in ways that are responsive to the needs of citizens and their local
communities.

Now is the time to reexamine how Ontario’s elections are delivered to ensure that they continue
to uphold the democratic principles and ideals on which they were founded.
Summary of Recommendations
The fundamental recommendation of this report is that Elections Ontario needs to have the
ability and flexibility in conjunction with Returning Officers to prepare, administer, and deliver
elections in ways that are responsive to the needs of citizens and their local communities.

The Election Act and Election Finances Act should be combined into one statute to
reduce inefficiencies as well as inconsistencies and confusion.

A brief summary of the Chief Electoral Officer’s specific recommendations are provided below.

Modernizing and Enhancing the Accessibility of the Electoral Process

The Chief Electoral Officer recommends that the Election Act be amended:
    to allow electors to vote by special ballot
    to allow for mobile polls
    to eliminate the proxy process
    so that all electors without identification can vote if someone vouches as to their identity
    to allow for the use of alternative voting equipment, vote-counting equipment and voting
      methods during both general elections and by-elections
    to allow the Chief Electoral Officer to establish appropriate staffing models and
      processes to be followed in the voting locations
    to clarify the residency definition in Section 1.1 to make it easier for students to
      determine where to vote
    to allow the location, days and hours of the advance vote to be set at the discretion of
      the Chief Electoral Officer and the Returning Officer for each electoral district

Professionalizing the Election Workforce

The Chief Electoral Officer recommends that the Election Act be amended:
    so that the Chief Electoral Officer is responsible for selecting Returning Officers and
      Election Clerks through a transparent, nonpartisan process where individuals are chosen
      on merit, based on their qualifications and experience
    so that the Returning Officer in each electoral district is permitted to appoint all the
      election officials who are responsible and accountable to him or her
    to remove the requirement for election officials to live in the electoral district where they
      are appointed to work
    so that all references to Deputy Returning Officers and Poll Clerks be removed and
      replaced with Election Officials
    so that Section 112 of the Election Act is amended to allow the Chief Electoral Officer to
      set the fees for election officials

Protecting the Integrity of the Election

The Chief Electoral Officer recommends:
    keeping Ontario’s current identification requirements and amending the Election Act to
      permit individuals to use their health cards as identification for voting purposes
      that the Representation Act, 2005 be amended to provide a regular, scheduled process
       for reviewing electoral district boundaries

Improving the Quality of the Voters’ List

      The Chief Electoral Officer recommends that:
      a single address authority be established for Ontario
      the Election Act be amended to permit Elections Ontario to collect information about
       ‘soon to be’ electors and that the Ministry of Education be required to provide Elections
       Ontario with the name, address and birth date of grade 12 students
      the Election Act be amended to make it easier for the Ministry of Health and Long Term
       Care to share its information with Elections Ontario for the purpose of maintaining the
       Permanent Register of Electors for Ontario

Operating Improvements

      The Chief Electoral Officer recommends amending the Election Act:
      to change voting day to a time when schools are not in session (e.g. weekend or school
       holiday)
      to allow the Chief Electoral Officer to design the ballot
      to provide the Chief Electoral Officer with the statutory authority to study and report on
       all matters related to the field of election administration, election finance and voter
       registration
      so that election-related legislative amendments that are introduced within six months of
       a general election not come into effect until the next election

Reforming Election Finances

The Chief Electoral Officer recommends that the Election Finances Act be amended:
    to combine it with the Election Act so that the nomination and registration processes can
      be streamlined
    to allow for modern banking practices such as debit cards and electronic transfers of
      monies
    to reduce the number of statements that candidates, parties and constituency
      associations are required to file in an election year
    so that the campaign spending limits are released before the writ
    so that the Chief Electoral Officer has the power to levy administrative penalties
    so that the Chief Electoral Officer has the authority to assemble a body of experts to
      study and consult on contribution, expense, spending and advertising rules
Appendix A: Special Ballot Process

This appendix describes how the Chief Electoral Officer would implement a special ballot
process if he was granted the broad authority to establish such an initiative.

The legislation would not prescribe this process, rather, it would allow the Chief Electoral
Officer to develop the policies and procedures that he deems necessary to implement a special
ballot initiative.
                                                                                                 st
The Chief Electoral Officer would release the details of the special ballot process by January 1
each year.

Suggested Special Ballot Process

Any elector who cannot or does not wish to vote at a voting location during an election may
vote using a special ballot. With a special ballot, an elector can vote by mail or in person at a
returning office.

Voting by special ballot would be a three step process:

Step One: Application

      The elector would be required to complete an application to vote by special ballot
      Applications would be available:
           o on the Elections Ontario website
           o through the Elections Ontario call centre (mailed by request)
           o in returning offices
           o in areas where there may be a high concentration of electors who would likely
               vote by special ballot, for example:
                    Canadian embassies, consulates and high commissions
                    Military and special forces bases and assignment locations
                    Penal and correctional facilities
                    University and college registrar offices
      A copy of the elector’s identification documents showing proof of identity and proof of
       residence would be required with the application
      The completed application could be sent to Elections Ontario by mail, email, fax or hand-
       delivery

Step Two: Voting

      Once Elections Ontario has approved the application, the elector would be sent a voting
       package that contains:
          o easy to understand, pictograph instructions on how to complete the special ballot
          o the special ballot
          o a qualification declaration
          o a secrecy envelope for the special ballot
          o a postage paid, preaddressed return envelope
      For electors who pick up and complete their applications in a returning office, they would
       be offered the chance to vote immediately using the special ballot or to take a voting
       package away so they could vote at a later time
      Special ballots would not be accepted if sent by fax or email

Step Three: Counting

      The Chief Electoral Officer should be given the authority to determine an appropriate
       deadline that all special ballots need to be received by in order for them to be counted
   o   Special ballots would be securely stored
   o   Special ballots would be counted on election day and would be reported as a special
       category for each electoral district
Appendix B: Modern Service Delivery Model

Appendix B provides a detailed description of the modern service delivery model proposed by
the Chief Electoral Officer.

Elections Ontario has piloted a modern service delivery model with great success at a by-
election.

With a modern service delivery model, electors are processed in a similar manner to how
customers are served in banks. There would be one lineup and any of the election officials in
the voting location would be able to assist any elector.

The purpose of the modern service delivery model is to:
    Improve service to electors
    Simplify the tasks performed by each election official
    Provide effective delivery of the voting process

There are a number of procedural benefits to a modern service delivery model, including:
    It allows election officials to specialize which better protects the integrity of the system
       since there is
           o Greater accuracy in the completion of forms because it becomes the
               responsibility of one specially trained person
           o Greater focus on handling ballots and ensuring the secrecy of the vote since that
               becomes a position’s sole responsibility
    Electors are processed more effectively and lineups are reduced
    More cost effective – requires fewer election officials per voting location
    Paves the way for the future use of technology

The Chief Electoral Officer recommends that he be granted broad authority to establish voting
policies and procedures, just like municipal clerks in the Municipal Elections Act, 1996. The
following process describes how Elections Ontario proposes implementing the modern
service delivery model, but this detailed process would not appear in the legislation. The
                                                                  st
Chief Electoral Officer would make the details available January 1 each year.

Modern Service Delivery Model

When electors from three or more polling divisions are assigned to one voting location, the
voting location will be staffed to provide efficient and effective service to the electors. Electors
will be served based on their needs. Election officials will be assigned specialized
responsibilities such as the provision of information, recording the voter’s information, assisting
voters with special needs, issuing ballots, and counting ballots.

Serving Electors on the Voters’ List with Proof of Identity

      Elector is greeted by an election official at the door
      Election official asks if the elector has their Notice of Registration Card and proof of
       identity with them
      If yes, the election official directs them to an election official who is responsible for the
       voters’ list
      The elector provides the election official with their name and address
      The election official finds the elector in the voters’ list and verifies their proof of identity
      The election official strikes the elector’s name from the voters’ list
      The elector is directed to an election official who is responsible for issuing ballots
      The elector receives an initialed ballot from the election official
      The elector goes to a voting screen and secretly marks their ballot
      The elector returns the ballot to the appropriate election official
      The election official verifies the initials on the back of the ballot and returns the ballot to
       the elector
      The elector inserts the ballot into the ballot box

Serving Electors who Require Assistance

      Elector is greeted by an election official at the door
      Election official asks if the elector has their Notice of Registration card and proof of
       identity with them
      If no, the election official directs them to another election official who will determine the
       assistance they require
      The elector provides the election official with their name and address
      The election official tries to find the elector in the voters’ list
      If the elector’s name appears in the voters’ list, the elector is asked for proof of identity
            o If yes, the election official verifies the proof of identity and strikes the elector’s
                name from the voters’ list
            o The elector is directed to the election official who is responsible for issuing ballots
                and follows the process described above
            o If no, the elector is asked to make the prescribed statutory declaration before the
                election official, and once they have done so they will be directed to the election
                official issuing ballots and follow the process described above
      If the elector’s name does not appear in the voters’ list, the elector is asked if they wish
       to apply to have their name added to the voters’ list
            o If yes, the elector is asked for proof of identity and proof of residence and
                completes an application to be added to the voters’ list.
            o Once the application is completed the elector is directed to the election official
                issuing ballots and follows the process described above

Special Circumstances

      Electors in possession of a certificate to vote will be directed to the election official
       providing assistance, and will follow the process described above
       Electors with disabilities will be directed to an election official who can provide them with
       assistance. Once their qualifications and eligibility are verified they will be able to vote
       independently or with assistance, as they wish
      Electors requiring an interpreter will be directed to an election official who can provide
       them with assistance, and, once their qualifications and eligibility are verified they will be
       able to vote
Counting the Ballots

      The Returning Officer will designate an election official who is responsible for managing
       the counting of the ballots and the completion of the Ballot Statement of the Poll
      The other election officials will assist in the counting of the ballots and the closing of the
       poll
      In the presence of the candidates or their scrutineers, the designated election official will
       open the ballot box and with the assistance of the other election officials count the
       number of valid ballots cast for each candidate and all other ballots giving full opportunity
       to those present to see each ballot and observe the proceedings
      The counting of the ballots and the reporting of the results will follow the procedures as
       set out in Section 57 to Section 62 of the Election Act
Appendix C: Returning Officer Selection Process

In keeping with the goal of having election laws that are written in plain language, the Chief
Electoral Officer recommends that the term Returning Officer be replaced with District
Electoral Officer and the term Election Clerk be replaced with Deputy District Electoral
Officer. The terms District Electoral Officer and Deputy District Electoral Officer are used in
British Columbia.

The Canada Elections Act (Section 24) and Quebec Election Act (Sections 502 – 509) provide
good examples of clear, broad powers allowing the Chief Electoral Officer to appoint
Returning Officers. The revised statute should include a similar provision providing clear,
broad powers to the Chief Electoral Officer. Below is an example of a potential selection
process that the Chief Electoral Officer could implement to hire Returning Officers, the
process would not appear in the legislation.

Suggested Selection Process

      Following the standards set by the Office of the Legislative Assembly, create a detailed
       Returning Officer position description that clearly explains the roles and responsibilities
       for the position
            o Advertise the vacant position:
            o On the Elections Ontario website
            o In daily newspapers covering the geographic area where the vacancy exists
            o With MPP Queen’s Park offices and constituency offices
      Elections Ontario reviews applications
      Candidates who are deemed to have the necessary qualifications and experience
       complete an online test in order to evaluate their computer skills and problemsolving
       abilities
      Elections Ontario shortlists and interviews candidates (either in own geographical area
       or at the Elections Ontario office in Toronto)
      Top three candidates subject to a thorough security check
      Subject to the successful completion of the security check, the first place candidate is
       offered the Returning Officer position and the second place candidate is offered the
       position of Election Clerk
      Returning Officer and Elections Ontario sign a service level agreement that outlines:
            o Chief Electoral Officer’s expectations of the Returning Officer
            o Chief Electoral Officer’s expectations of the staff at Elections Ontario

Suggested Evaluation Process

      Each Returning Officer’s appointment lasts for six months following the election, subject
       to re-appointment by the Chief Electoral Officer
      After a general election, the Chief Electoral Officer evaluates the performance of each
       Returning Officer
      Returning Officers who meet the expected standard are asked if they are interested in
       being reappointed
           o If yes, the Returning Officer is reappointed
       o If no, the position is declared vacant and the selection process begins
   Returning Officers who do not meet the expected standard are removed from their
    position and the selection process begins
Appendix D: Proposed Administrative Powers under the
Election Finances Act


                                                                  Regulators
 Description of New Power           When it would apply                                 Comments
                                                                with this power

Ability to issue a reprimand to     Used for                   A similar sanction
a person or entity where the        inadvertent/technical      is available under
Chief Electoral Officer is of the   errors on the part of      the Manitoba
view that prosecution is not        regulated entities         Elections
required because an offence         which, if they had         Finances Act (s.
was inadvertent or of a             been intentional, may      91(2)). Such
technical nature. Such              warrant prosecution        powers are also
reprimands would be made            (e.g.If in the course of   exercised by
public.                             a compliance review it     regulators of
                                    is discovered that a       professions in
                                    CFO forgot to report       Ontario.
                                    certain expenses – as
                                    an honest mistake
                                    rather than a
                                    deliberate attempt to
                                    file a false return)
Ability to suspend the              Used where a party or      Such powers are      While the CEO has
registration of a party or          constituency               exercised by         the power to
constituency association. This      association is             securities           deregister a parties
would be public and, in effect,     demonstrating that it      commissions and      and constituency
serve as an order to cease          is operating               regulators of        associations, it is a
activity on a temporary basis       improperly (e.g. failing   professions in       severe and final
(which would proactively try to     to reply to Election       Ontario.             penalty that is slow
prevent abuse of the election       Finances in                                     to be used.
finances system).                   connection with a                               Suspensions would
                                    compliance review                               not replace the
                                    after several inquiries)                        deregistration
                                                                                    power but could be
                                                                                    instituted as a
                                                                                    lesser/interim
                                                                                    measure much
                                                                                    more quickly.
 New Enforcement                                                 Regulators with this
                               When it would apply                                            Comments
      Power                                                            power

Ability to conclude a    In lieu of being reported for           Such powers have
compliance               prosecution, the Chief Electoral        been used very
agreement in lieu of     Officer could enter into a              successfully under
being reported for       compliance agreement with               section 517 of the
prosecution. The         anyone he believes on                   Canada Elections Act
agreements would be      reasonable grounds has                  since 2000 and are
made public.             committed, is about to commit or        reported on the
                         is likely to commit an act or           Elections Canada
                         omission that could constitute an       website Such powers
                         offence. The agreements would           are also exercised by
                         be voluntary and be between the         regulators of
                         Chief Electoral Officer and the         professions in
                         person (the contracting party) in       Ontario.
                         which they agree to terms and
                         conditions that the Chief Electoral
                         Officer considers necessary to
                         ensure compliance with the Act.

Ability to reduce the    When campaign returns are filed         While Elections           This would be a
campaign expense         late, a tariff would be applied that    Ontario staff can find    strong incentive
subsidy for a party or   would reduce the subsidy                no regulator with a       for entities who
candidate eligible to    proportionate to the lateness of        similar power, this is    qualify for
receive a subsidy        the filing. (e.g. 10% reduction of      due to the fact that      subsidies to file
                         subsidy for missing filing deadline     few regulators            on time but there
                         and an additional 5% for every          (outside the electoral    are many entities
                         week thereafter. No subsidy             context) pay public       who do not meet
                         would be paid for a return filed        subsidies to the          the threshold
                         over 18 weeks late.)                    entities they oversee.    needed to qualify
                                                                                           for a subsidy.
Ability to levy an       When financial returns are filed        This power to levy a      This would be a
administrative charge    late, a late fee would be levied        fee for late filing is    strong incentive
for late filing by a     (where the entity did not qualify       similar in principle to   for entities who
party/candidate/         for a campaign expense subsidy)         the late filing penalty   do not qualify for
constituency             (e.g. the late fee could be $200        that the CRA charges      subsidies to file
association/leadership   plus 1% of the gross income             taxpayers, who do not     on time.
contestant/third party   reported on the return for each         qualify for a refund,
(which is not eligible   full week that a return is late, to a   but fail to file their
to receive a campaign    maximum of 18 weeks)                    income taxes on time.
subsidy)

								
To top