TORONTO, March 10, 2015 /CNW/ - In his report on the 2014 general election, Chief Electoral Officer, Greg Essensa, urges the government to take immediate action on his top three recommendations to improve Ontario's electoral process:
- Establish a single address authority to help improve the accuracy of the voter's list.
- Level the playing field by strengthening the regulations on third party advertising.
- Plan for the future by creating consistent standards to evaluate the integration of technologies into the electoral process.
Establish a single address authority to help improve the accuracy of the voter's list
According to a study conducted by Ipsos-Reid after the 2014 general election, 77% of Ontario's eligible electors received a correct notice of registration card. The notice of registration card is what tells electors where and when they can go to vote. It is a strong indication of the accuracy of the voter's list.
Municipalities across Ontario each establish their own residential addresses; Canada Post maintains a list of mailing addresses; and, 911 also has its own addressing system. In rural areas there are significant discrepancies between these addressing systems. Without a central addressing authority there is no way for Elections Ontario to resolve these discrepancies. This means that Elections Ontario has difficulty contacting some electors in rural areas to inform them of where and when they can go to vote.
"Elections Ontario has done as much as we can under the current system to maintain the accuracy of the voter's list," says Chief Electoral Officer, Greg Essensa, "but we need transformative change to addressing in order to make the improvements necessary for rural areas. Elections Ontario needs the government to implement a single address authority."
Level the playing field by strengthening the regulations on third party advertising
"Unlike political parties and candidates there are no contribution or spending limits on political advertising during an election by third parties in Ontario" Essensa says. "Over the last three elections, since 2007, when we began tracking spending by third parties we have seen continued escalation in spending. By 2014 spending by third parties had increased by over 400 per cent for a total of $8.4million. This lack of regulation is creating an uneven playing field that can potentially influence electoral outcomes."
Ontario is the only jurisdiction in Canada that regulates third parties, but does not regulate their spending on political advertising. In the jurisdictions that do regulate third party spending, the spending limits for third parties are lower than those for political parties, candidates and constituency associations. Failing to fix this policy gap jeopardizes the fairness and transparency of Ontario's electoral process.
Plan for the future by creating consistent standards to evaluate the integration of technologies into the electoral process
"The 2014 general election was the most successful electoral event Elections Ontario has administered by any measure" remarked Essensa. "But, this must not lead to complacency about our electoral process. Ontarians expect that electoral agencies will employ technological solutions to increase efficiency, reduce costs, and increase the integrity of the electoral process."
Other jurisdictions and levels of government have already begun implementing technology in their voting process, although not in a consistent and coordinated manner. The ad hoc approach to integrating technology in the voting process has led to some challenges.
The provincial electoral process needs to come into the 21st century without compromising its integrity. To do that, the Chief Electoral Office recommends establishing standards for the integration of technology into the voting process.
Read more in our report on the 2014 general election
These recommendations can be found along with other key recommendations in the Chief Electoral Officer's Post-Event Report about Ontario's June 2014 General Election.
The full report and additional recommendations for legislative change can be found here: http://bit.ly/1x8U1XT3
Elections Ontario is the non-partisan agency responsible for administering provincial elections, by-elections and referenda.
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SOURCE Elections Ontario
For further information: Elections Ontario Media Relations: 416.212.6186 / 1.866.252.2152