Modernizing the administration of elections

Backgrounder

On April 30, 2018, the Government of Canada introduced C-76, Elections Modernization Act.

Building on the recommendations of the Chief Electoral Officer, this bill proposes amendments that would modernize the electoral process to make it easier for Canadians to participate in elections, make it more difficult for those who break election law to evade punishment, and improve Canadians’ trust and confidence in Canada’s electoral system.

This legislation will, if passed, improve voters’ experience at the polls – both during advance polls and on Polling Day. These improvements include:

  • Giving Canadians more flexibility in their schedules by increasing the hours of advance polls to 12-hour days;
  • Significantly reducing wait times at regular and advance polls;
  • Expanding accessibility measures for Canadians with disabilities;
  • Authorizing the Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship to provide the Chief Electoral Officer with information about permanent residents and foreign nationals to ensure these individuals are not included in the Register of Electors[1];
  • As introduced in Bill C-33, allowing the Chief Electoral Officer to conduct public education and information activities so that Canadians can be better informed about the electoral process; and,
  • Allowing the Chief Electoral Officer to permit the use of the notice of confirmation of registration (commonly known as a “voter information card”) as identification and allowing the option of vouching for identity and residence.

C-76 strengthens compliance and enforcement by proposing new powers for the Commissioner of Canada Elections. These measures include:

  • Restoring the Commissioner’s power to lay charges for violations of elections law[2];
  • Ensuring greater compliance with the portions of the Canada Elections Act related to political financing and minor voting offenses by providing the Commissioner with the administrative option of a monetary penalty; and,
  • Providing the Commissioner with the ability to seek a court order to compel testimony.[3]

For the complete set of amendments and details, please refer to the legislation text.

[1] Previously introduced in Bill C-33

[2] This change reverts to the system that was in place prior to 2006 and was endorsed by the Commissioner of Canada Elections, the Chief Electoral Officer, and the Director of Public Prosecutions.

[3] In Preventing Deceptive Communications with Electors: Recommendations from the Chief Electoral Officer of Canada Following the 41st General Election, the CEO stated: “The inability to compel testimony has been one of the most significant obstacles to effective enforcement of the Act.”


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