Sunday, May 15, 2016

Marc Mayrand on Election Reform and Referendum

Elections Canada CEO Marc Mayrand at PROC (Procedures Committee), excerpted :

"With a majority government in place, as well as a fixed election date of October 21, 2019, there is an opportunity now to bring the electoral process, currently anchored in the 19th century, in line with contemporary Canadian expectations."

On holding a referendum on choosing a new voting system as advocated by the Cons :
"The Referendum Act is outdated. It has not been changed since 1992, which was the last time we had a national referendum. In that regard, it is very much out of sync with the Elections Act, particularly around political financing. For example, unions and corporations could contribute to referendum committees. I think that may come as a shock. There is no limit on contributions by any entities. Again, that may come as a shock, but the legislation still stands."
"Six months minimum to set up a national referendum." 

On amending the Electoral Boundaries Readjustment Act for STV or MMP or ...
"The bare minimum for a standard redistribution is 10 months.There are another seven months after that for implementing. You need to redesign all the maps across each riding and reorganize the poll divisions to reflect the new riding boundaries."

On time needed to revamp the whole system in time for the 2019 election :
"Legislation enacting the reform should be there at least 24 months before the election.Once you have the redistribution, you would need six to seven months to implement the new maps, the new districts, and then we would need to get ready for the election. We would need to prepare all the training. We would also need to build the systems that would support this new regime. We can assume that there would be a need for major public education." Also for parties, candidates, election officials.

On new Election Day technology :
"You have the electronic lists available at the polls. That means that someone who is showing up at the poll shows a voter ID card. The card is scanned, their name is struck out of the list immediately, and automatically it's valid across the country, so that person cannot show up somewhere else later during the day. As a result of that, they get their ballot. We could consider entering them into a tabulator, so, again, the results would be instant on election night."

On advance polls :
"This time around, 25% of all Canadian voters showed up at advance polls. Similarly, we had a 117% increase in voting by mail—in this day and age, yes.We estimate that serving an electorate at an advance poll takes roughly 10 to 15 minutes. If you have 10 people ahead of you, and you're the eleventh, imagine the time it takes. If you see three or four tables that are free, why can't you go to them? If I show up at any store I'll go to the checkout that is available. Why can I not do that?"
"The other thing that we need to look at is automating procedures. If you have voted at an advance poll, you know that electors, when they show up, have to prove their ID, etc. Then their name has to be searched in a big paper document, and they have to enter the name and address and they have to sign. There's no reason in this day and age that it still needs to happen this way. We would be looking at automation. There are good reasons that controls are in place: to ensure that the vote is reliable. However, I think there are big opportunities for automation and better service at the polls."

Mr Mayrand also referred to four other Elections Canada issues that in my opinion should be addressed before the next election.

On removal of voter identification card as a valid piece of identification in the 2015 Federal Election: 
"Voter ID was a barrier for 172,000 people who claimed that not being able to prove their ID or address was an issue for them, and therefore they did not vote according to the Statscan Labour Force Survey"."There is no national ID card of any sort that meets the requirements of the Elections Act."

On voter education outreach :
"Our mandate now is restricted to non-voters, those who are under the voting age." 
"Elections Canada is, in fact, the only body in the world that I know of that cannot promote democracy within the country."

On expenses reimbursement to political parties after an election :
Approximately $60M goes back to our respective political parties—no receipts required. 

On the power to compel witnesses :
"The commissioner cannot compel witnesses.""The commissioner's office was moved from Elections Canada to the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions. It is reporting through the DPP and through the Attorney General. It's not an office of Parliament, so it doesn't report directly to Parliament."

Note : I took Mayrand's remarks on electoral reform and a potential referendum out of the order in which they were made and bumped them up to the top of the post. These quotes are responses made to questions from the MPs at PROC.


West End Bob said...

Why do I have the feeling this ain't happenin' before October 21st, 2019 ? ? ? ?

Kev said...

I too am cynical when it comes to the Liberals Bob, but there are members of caucus and many grassroots folks in the LPC who believe in reform. Joyce Murray who ran on a reform platform came second in the leadership race.

Not to mention most Canadians are in favour of reform of some type, the Liberals screw this up at their own peril.

Alison said...

In Dec 2014, NDP Democratic Reform Critic Craig Scott proposed this motion in the HoC :

(a) the next federal election should be the last conducted under the current first-past-the-post electoral system or under any other winner-take-all electoral system; and
(b) a form of mixed-member proportional representation would be the best electoral system for Canada."

NDP, Greens, and Bloc voted in favour, along with the following 16 Libs : Mauril BĂ©langer, Carolyn Bennett, Scott Brison, Rodger Cuzner, Stephane Dion, Kirsty Duncan, Wayne Easter, Mark Eyking, Hedy Fry, Ted Hsu, John McCallum, David McGuinty, John McKay, Joyce Murray, Frank Valeriote, Adam Vaughan.

All but Hsu are still sitting Lib MPs.

Voting against the motion : Justin Trudeau, Gerry Byrne, Emmanuel Dubourg, Judy Foote, Chrystia Freeland, Marc Garneau, Ralph Goodale, Yvonne Jones, Kevin Lamoureux, Dominic LeBlanc, Lawrence MacAuley, Geoff Regan, Francis Scarpaleggia, Judy Sgro, Scott Simms.
I think they're all still there but for Dubourg

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