DGEQ's ten recommendations for a healthy democracy

October 3, 2013

Québec City, October 3, 2013 – The Chief Electoral Officer of Québec, Mr. Jacques Drouin, unveiled today the DGEQ’s 2012-2013 annual report which includes that of the Commission de la représentation électorale du Québec (CRE). You can consult it at the following link: http://www.electionsquebec.qc.ca/english/about-us/dge-annual-reports.php

This report outlines the achievements of the DGEQ and the CRE with regard to the goals set out in the 2009-2013 strategic plan, and puts forward 10 recommendations to ensure the smoother running of future elections, fairness in political financing, the ethics of various political participants, and best practices with regard to protection of personal information.

Recruitment, training and polling

The DGEQ recommends amending the law to confer upon returning officers complete responsibility for the recruitment of election staff and to allow the recruitment of 16- and 17-year-olds for certain jobs.

Indeed, during a general election, nearly 80 000 people are hired by the DGEQ for the holding of, among others, advance polls and polling day itself. For several years now, it has become increasingly difficult for the political parties that have the right to recommend the required personnel to do so. Once the deadline for this has passed, the returning officers do not have very long to fill the remaining positions.

The DGEQ recommends amending the Election Act to allow them to appoint, in each polling location, a person whose job would be to support the election staff in their functions, and this, with the goal of reducing the risks associated with a poor understanding of the various procedures to be applied by the election personnel and which could eventually lead to court challenges.

Finally, the DGEQ reiterates its recommendation of holding the vote on a Sunday instead of a Monday. In addition to making recruitment of election staff easier, the DGEQ considers that this will also ease vote access to a greater number of electors and resolve the difficulties encountered in setting up polling booths in educational establishments on the Monday.

Financing

The DGEQ recommends, in the area of political financing, the setting up of a five-year evaluation mechanism of political financing rules.

The DGEQ recommends lowering to $20 the contributions that can be given in cash, both at the provincial and municipal levels. These contributions are difficult to verify and give rise to the possibility of straw-man practices (contributing in another’s name).

The DGEQ also recommends that at the municipal level, only the electors domiciled in the territory of the municipality be allowed to give contributions to political parties and authorized independent candidates. Presently, the owner of an immovable and the occupants of business establishments are also considered to be qualified electors and can thus contribute to the political financing of this municipality.

Following the reform of provincial political financing, the parties get an additional allowance from the state at the start of an election campaign that can be used to, in particular, pay for election expenses which are eligible for a reimbursement of 50%. Thus, some expenses could be reimbursed at 150% of their value. The DGEQ recommends deducting the reimbursement of election expenses from the additional allowance used by the political parties for electoral purposes.

The DGEQ also recommends that the reimbursement of research and support expenses at the municipal level be paid directly to those elected rather than to the political parties, even if this provision is in the Cities and Towns Act. Also recommended is that the DGEQ be given audit and investigation powers over the money paid as an allowance by the municipalities to eligible municipal political parties.

Ethics and protection of personal information

The DGEQ recommends that a code of ethics in the area of political financing be offered to the political parties. It would be based on the profound and lasting respect for the democratic process and compliance with electoral laws relating to political financing.

Finally, the DGEQ recommends revising the Election Act in the area of protection of personal information and the adopting of a code of ethics. For example, no provisions for the destruction of lists of electors after their use exist in the Act. To strengthen the confidentiality of personal information the DGEQ recommends adopting a code of ethics.

  

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Categories : CRE, DGE