Canada’s outdated way of conducting federal elections has reached a tipping point and must be modernized to meet the needs and expectations of voters, says the chief electoral officer. The Canada Elections Act is based on how elections were conducted in the 19th century, when communication with the regions was limited, oversight was minimal and election administration was local, Marc Mayrand told a news conference Wednesday. “It is a process that is entirely manual, rigid and slow.” In last fall’s election, Mayrand said long lineups at advance polls were the result “of unduly rigid and cumbersome procedures,” frustrating Canadians who expect the voting process to “align with their lifestyles and personal or family situations.” “I strongly believe that federal election administration has reached a tipping point and that action is required now to ensure we can meet electors’ changing needs and expectations.”
He is recommending a number of reforms to bring the process into the 21st century, making use of modern technology. For instance, he wants voter information cards to include bar codes that could be electronically scanned as soon as voters walk into polling stations, rather than forcing them to wait for a poll worker to strike their name off a list.
“There is no reason why voters should wait in line at one table while there is no lineup at other tables,” he said. “An electronic list, available at all tables, would allow workers to strike off the names of voters in real time.”
Mayrand is also recommending that elections be held on a weekend day rather than the traditional Monday.