Implementation of Recommended Legislative Changes – CEO Appearance on the Special Report of the Chief Electoral Officer: Administering an Election during the COVID-19 Pandemic
To preserve electoral integrity and deliver quality electoral services to Canadians, recommended legislative changes require significant planning, training and testing of electoral procedures and our complex IT systems.
Sixteen (16) key electoral systems need to be modified. These include voter information on Elections Canada's website to be updated to provide weekend voting schedules and locations, pay systems to account for electoral personnel working during the weekend, and elector registration systems to print voter information cards with weekend voting information.
Elections Canada has a rigorous development and testing process to implement such changes in a consistent and secure manner.
It is critical that legislative changes be enacted without delay given the required four-month development cycle and subsequent testing phase.
There are over 40 IT systems that are critical to the conduct of a general election. These proposed legislative changes require significant changes to 16 systems, which would then need to undergo a tight cadence of preparation and load capacity testing activities before they are deployed and used by some 300,000 election workers and made available to electors during the election.
In addition, a significant increase is expected in Canadians voting by mail compared to the 2019 general election. This anticipated increase is driving a number of IT systems changes in the same modules targeted by the proposed legislative changes.
The testing of IT systems impacted by legislative changes must also be done in conjunction with other systems changes unrelated to the legislative changes but required to address other needs, such as the new system for online applications to vote by mail, which is being developed in parallel. Between October 1 and December 31, 2020, planning and preparations for IT systems changes are under way to be ready in the event Parliament enacts these recommendations.
From January to March 2021, all changes made to IT electoral systems will be tested and integrated. Capacity testing will be performed to have assurances that IT systems can sustain a general election by April 1, 2021.