Harry Neufeld, who wrote a report on problems in the last federal election, is warning of the potential for more abuse at polling stations if one part of the government’s proposed fair elections act goes ahead. Neufeld, B.C.’s former chief electoral officer and now an independent electoral management consultant, wrote the compliance review that identified polling problems in the 2011 election and made recommendations on how to fix them. He says Section 44 of the government’s new legislation would allow all central polling supervisors to be appointed by a riding’s incumbent candidate or the candidate’s party. “It’s completely inappropriate in a democracy, ” said Neufeld.
Under current legislation, central poll supervisors are appointed by returning officers, who are hired by Elections Canada. The supervisors are put in place at polling stations to make sure voting unfolds smoothly.
In Neufeld’s report to Elections Canada, he called on the agency to put more polling officers in place at every polling station as a way to prevent further voting irregularities. It is a recommendation Elections Canada accepted.
Now Neufeld is concerned that changing how those supervisors are appointed could “tilt the balance” in favour of the incumbent candidate or party.