Thursday, October 25, 2012

Who gets to work at the polling stations in Federal Elections?

I have never understood why, but Elections Canada goes to the parties that came first and second in a riding to find their staff at the polling stations in an election.   The returning officer for each ridings gets lists of recommended people from the top two finishers in the previous election.

What I do not like about this is that it means the majority of the people working at the polling stations have strong partisan leanings.  It strikes me as a bad idea because it places too many people in a position of temptation and someone of them are likely to act.  I have seen this in action when the polling clerks are doing the counting.  

This is a bit of the old patronage thing that is still around.   A chance to reward your supporters with some work.   It just seems so utterly wrong.

In all three current by-elections only the NDP and Conservatives will be allowed to forward names for people to be Deputy Returning Officers, Poll Clerks, Information Officers, Registration Officers, and Central Poll Supervisor.   The conflict of interest seems to clear to me.

From the Elections Canada Website

Question

 How do I apply for a job as an election officer?

Answer

To qualify for a job as an election officer, you must be a Canadian citizen, you must live in the electoral district in which you are applying for work and you must be at least 16 years old on election day. Please note that, to be employed by Elections Canada, you must agree to refrain from any partisan political activity during the term of your employment.

To apply for employment, contact the two political parties whose candidates finished first and second in the last election or your local Elections Canada office (returning officer). Before you do this, please see the Web document Employment in Electoral Administration for a list of positions and qualifications to work as an election officer. 

Apply to the first- and second-place parties

  Identify the parties that finished first and second in the last election in your electoral district 
  Apply for employment with the political parties' electoral district associations, or 
  Apply for employment with the political parties' headquarters

Apply to your returning officer

  Fill out an on-line application form
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