7. Conclusion – Independent audit report on the performance of the duties and functions of election officers – 43rd General Election
We conclude that election officers properly exercised the powers conferred on them and properly performed the duties and functions imposed on them under sections 143 to 149, 161, 162 and 169 of the CEA, on all days of advance polling and on ordinary polling day for the 43rd general election. Further, we conclude that the administrative controls established by EC, including manuals, training material and optimized certificates and forms were effective in supporting election officers in the performance of their duties and functions.
Overall, the results of our on-site testing of electoral interactions confirmed that regular electors (approximately 89% of elector interactions sampled) were processed appropriately. Election officers properly performed their duties and functions by verifying elector ID, issuing a ballot and documenting that electors cast their ballot. For the 11% of electors who were subject to special procedures, overall, the testing results confirmed that ID of the electors was verified appropriately, including the duties performed by the REGO; however, some of the administrative procedures were not performed consistently. Despite this, our audit noted that election officers consistently acted in the best interest of the electors and worked diligently to ensure the most positive election experience for all.
Comparing our results of the 42nd general election to the 43rd general election, it is noted that the 42nd general election had one (1) major observation related to the consistent administration of oaths and declarations. For the 43rd general election, our testing did not result in any major findings. For the 42nd general election, two (2) 'other observations' were identified related to administrative controls. Similarly, for the 43rd general election, two (2) 'other observations' were identified to improve the administrative controls. In both elections, an 'other observation' was reported relative to the timing of marking the elector as voted; however, the prevalence of the error increased for the 43rd general election.
These 'other observations' were, in part, due to the training program whereby election officers indicated through interviews that they did not feel that the in-class training curriculum fully equipped them for the administrative responsibilities associated with the special procedures, and in part, due to the manual nature of the voting processes and the pressure to provide fast and pleasant service to electors.
In reaching our conclusion, we considered the following factors.
- We were not charged with auditing the election results, our scope was limited and did not touch on the duties of all election officers, and we did not assess all of the duties of the election officers we did observe. For example, we did not observe the counting of the ballots and recording and reporting of voting results.
- We did not note any major findings.
- We did observe, and have reported, certain errors and mistakes in documentation and record-keeping that we believe to be significant as "other observations" relative to both regular voters and those requiring special procedures.
Accordingly, while we believe that there are opportunities to continue to improve processes and controls to minimize the number of record-keeping errors and, where appropriate, we have recommended changes to address these opportunities, the issues that we observed and reported do not affect our underlying conclusion as set out above.