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Thursday, June 4, 2015
Ontario takes action on four of Elections Ontario's recommendations to improve the electoral process
TORONTO, Ontario June 4, 2015 /Canada NewsWire/ - Today Premier Wynne announced Ontario will take action on four recommendations that the Chief Electoral Officer, Greg Essensa, has been making for several years, most recently in the Elections Ontario 2014 Post-Event Report.
"I am pleased that the government has heard my recommendations and I welcome progress on these initiatives," says Essensa. "The recommendations being addressed make it easier for Ontarians to vote and level the playing field protecting the integrity of our system."
STRENGTHENING THIRD-PARTY REGULATIONS
Since his appointment as Chief Electoral Officer of Ontario, Mr. Essensa has been recommending that an independent body be established to investigate options for strengthening third party advertising rules in Ontario, including third party spending and contribution limits, reporting requirements for third parties, and registration and anti-collusion provisions.
In recent elections, certain third parties have increased significantly what they spend on advertising. Meanwhile, of the jurisdictions in Canada that regulate third party advertising, Ontario is the only one where third parties do not face advertising spending or contribution limits. The Chief Electoral Officer believes that this reality could very well produce a situation in which parties and candidates campaign on an uneven playing field. Spending by third parties increased by 358% between 2007 and 2014 with third parties spending $1.9 million in 2007 and $8.7 million in 2014.
Municipal elections in Ontario are held in the fall under a fixed-date system that in 2018 would put the current fixed-date provincial election two weeks ahead of them. Closely placed elections can lead to voter fatigue and a drop in participation at the polls. The Chief Electoral Officer recommended that the legislation, which at present specifies a fixed date for general elections as the first Thursday in October every four years, be amended to a fixed date in the spring such as a date in early June.
YOUTH PROVISIONAL REGISTRATION
Youth are more likely to vote if they get a notice of registration card (NRC) telling them when, where and how to vote. To get an NRC you must be a registered voter and many first time 18-year-old voters are not registered. Allowing Elections Ontario to capture information related to 16 and 17 year olds removes a barrier to youth voting by giving youth more time to register. Removing barriers to youth voting is important since electors are more likely to become regular voters if they vote when they are first eligible which is why the Chief Electoral Officer recommends allowing the provisional registration of individuals when they are 16.
A fair distribution of Ontario's electoral districts is essential to our democratic process. Ontario has not redistributed electoral districts since 2007. Because of our changing and growing population, the Chief Electoral Officer has been strongly recommending that it is critical for Ontario to engage in redistribution. We welcome the announcement of theElectoral Boundaries Act which will mark the start of this process.
The Chief Electoral Officer looks forward to working collaboratively with legislators to bring each issue towards implementation.