Appendix B – Report on the 44th General Election of September 20, 2021
Adaptations Made Pursuant to Subsection 17(1) of the Canada Elections Act During the 44th General Election
Subsection 17(1) of the Canada Elections Actendnote xxxii authorizes the Chief Electoral Officer to adapt any provision of the Act during an election period or within 30 days after the election. To exercise this authority, the Chief Electoral Officer must be satisfied that the adaptation is necessary because of an emergency, an unusual or unforeseen circumstance or an error. This power of adaptation may be used only for the purpose of enabling electors to exercise their right to vote or enabling the counting of votes.
|Statutory provisions||Explanatory notes|
|Sections 30 and 60||
Purpose: To permit six returning officers to establish their office or the office of an additional assistant returning officer outside of their electoral district.
Explanation: The Act requires each returning officer to open their office, in a convenient place in the electoral district, in premises that are accessible to electors with disabilities. When additional assistant returning officers are appointed in designated areas of an electoral district, the returning officer must also establish an accessible office in each of those areas. Electors are able to vote at the office of any returning officer or additional assistant returning officer during most of the election period. Six returning officers were unable, despite exhaustive searches, to secure suitable premises for these purposes within their electoral districts.
The adaptation permitted these returning officers to open offices in accessible premises in an adjacent electoral district that were still located in a convenient place for electors of the electoral district in question.
|Sections 95, 125, 140 and 158, paragraph 127(a), and subsection 538(5)||
Purpose: To allow the offering of adapted voting services to electors who reside in a long-term care institution.
Explanation: Electors residing in long-term care institutions often face barriers when it comes to exercise their right to vote. To alleviate these barriers, the Act allows these electors to vote on polling day at a mobile polling station visiting their institution. However, the Act also requires that such mobile polling stations visit at least two long-term care institutions on polling day. Public health measures put in place in response to the COVID-19 pandemic made it impossible for Elections Canada to operate mobile polls in that way.
The adaptation allowed electors residing in long-term care institutions to be served by a polling station visiting a single institution or part of an institution. It also allowed flexibility in the scheduling of these polling stations, while safeguarding the right to vote of residents who were not able to vote at their institution.
|Sections 140, 283 and 296||
Purpose: To preserve the right to vote of an elector who marked a ballot on the basis of erroneous information given to the elector by an election officer in the electoral district of Edmonton Manning.
Explanation: The returning officer for the electoral district of Edmonton Manning offered adapted voting services to electors residing at the Edmonton Hospital by establishing a polling station in this institution on September 9, 2021. The election officers assigned to that polling station admitted 79 electors to vote using regular ballots; the ballots marked by these electors were deposited in a ballot box. On September 12, 2021, the returning officer discovered that electors having their place of ordinary residence outside of the electoral district of Edmonton Manning were mistakenly admitted to vote at the polling station established for the Edmonton Hospital. As the ballots had been deposited in a ballot box, it was impossible to differentiate the ballots deposited by electors entitled to vote in the electoral district from ballots deposited by electors who were not so entitled.
The adaptation nullified the votes cast by those 79 electors, allowing them to vote again in the proper electoral district.
Purpose: To allow for transfer certificates to be issued in some circumstances on polling day.
Explanation: In a minority of provinces, public health authorities did not require masks or face coverings to be worn inside buildings or inside polling stations on polling day. The COVID-19 pandemic created a shortage of accessible premises that could be used by returning officers to establish polling stations, which forced returning officers to accept contractual conditions requiring any person accessing the leased premises to wear a mask or face covering, despite the position of the provincial public health authorities.
The adaptation allowed for the issuance of a transfer certificate, upon request, to electors who were reluctant to wear a mask or a face covering, allowing them to be served at other polling locations within their electoral district where masks or face coverings were not required by contractual conditions.
Purpose: To permit the returning officer for the electoral district of Skeena-Bulkley Valley to establish an advance polling station for three days only—September 10, 11 and 12, 2021—in the communities of Atlin and Bella Coola.
Explanation: The Act requires that advance polling stations be open from 9:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. on Friday, Saturday, Sunday and Monday, the 10th, 9th, 8th and 7th days, respectively, before polling day, and that they not be open at any other time. An advance polling station that cannot comply with the requirement to provide four days of service to electors must be cancelled in its entirety. In the two remote communities of Atlin and Bella Coola, the only possible locations for advance polling stations were available only on the first three days of advance polls because the sites were being used on the fourth day for a sitting of the British Columbia Provincial Court.
The adaptation allowed an advance poll to be established for three days in these remote communities.
Purpose: To allow the production of ballots for advance polls in the electoral districts of Northwest Territories and Thunder Bay–Rainy River and in some remote communities in the electoral district of Nunavut.
Explanation: The Act prescribes specific rules for the production of ballots, including the type of paper to be used and the obligations of the printer retained to print ballots. Logistical issues prevented the delivery of ballots in time for the start of advance polling to the following communities in Nunavut: Arviat, Baker Lake, Cambridge Bay, Gjoa Haven, Kugluktuk and Sanikiluaq. In the electoral districts of Northwest Territories and Thunder Bay–Rainy River, the voter turnout at the first three days of advance polls was higher than expected, suggesting that one or more advance polling stations in these electoral districts would run out of ballots and be unable to replenish them before the close of advance polls.
The adaptation allowed election officers to produce ballots locally for their polling stations in sufficient quantities to enable electors to vote.
Purpose: To permit the appointment of election officers who were not assigned to an advance polling station to count the votes cast at that advance polling station.
Explanation: The COVID-19 pandemic created challenges in recruiting election officers. As a consequence, the Chief Electoral Officer had authorized the recruitment of a single election worker, instead of two, for each table serving a polling division. This change, among others, required that experienced election officers—including election officers assigned to advance polling stations—be assigned to polling stations on polling day. This was problematic because the Act requires that an election officer assigned to an advance polling station be present during the count of the votes cast at that advance polling station. Such a count, with the Chief Electoral Officer's approval, can begin one hour before the close of polling stations on polling day.
The adaptation allowed the returning officer, with prior approval of the Chief Electoral Officer, to specify election officers who were not assigned to an advance polling station to count the votes cast at that advance polling station.