10 July 2008

No election reports from provincial elections office since 2003?

"The post of the year"

Well, if democracy, and openness were the topics the answer would be yes.

labradore has posted a scathing indictment of the province's elections office demonstrating the repeated failings of the office to comply with the law - apparently - and certainly by failing any reasonable standard of public communication.

Quebec's elections office has already posted to the Internet results of the may by-elections.

In Newfoundland and Labrador, we are still waiting on any statistical reports on elections since October 2003. 

"Publish". The only sign that any recent electoral results have been published is the library catalogue entry noted above. (And no, offering to mail a copy to anyone who thinks to ask, does not constitute "publishing.")
And "within 9 months".

In respect of the Exploits by-election, that mandatory nine-month deadline expired on March 23, 2006. For Placentia & St. Mary's, the deadline was November 21, 2006. For Signal Hill—Quidi Vidi, it was August 1, 2007. For Ferryland, Port au Port, and Kilbride, November 8, 2007. Humber Valley and Labrador West met the deadline five days later.

And for the general election of 2007, having been held on October 9, 2007 — the day before the much-larger Ontario, whose poll-by-polls have been available for quite some time now — that mandatory statutory deadline was on Wednesday, July 9th, 2008.

There simply is no excuse for this complete failure.

But the first comment on the post is right:  this is the story of the year.  it demonstrates in one single spot:

-  a complete lack of transparency and openness as set down in the elections; and,

-  a persistent failure of accountability since the House of Assembly to which the elections office reports, apparently hasn't been able to sort the situation out.

What the office has been doing, apparently, is filling out "plan" documents filled with pap like this from the communications section on page 10 of the "business plan" for 2008-2011:

It is important for the Office of the Chief Electoral Office to communicate clear, strong messages to its primary clients and the general public. Various types of communications are used frequently to address issues, particularly important dates and reminders. Public notices, advertising, press releases, media kits, and public service announcements [sentence break in original]

are just a few of the methods that are used to inform the public of ‘need to know’ information. For example, the Special Ballot process was advertised in local papers, radio and television. Additionally, a news release was sent out to alert electors about Special Ballot deadlines and general information.

The OCEO also has a website that contains a wealth of information on the electoral process. The Office strives to keep the website up-to-date and current with issues that pertain to elections.

Those three paragraphs are clearly bunk written by people who don't know what they are doing.  Can you have more than one primary client, for argument sake?

The last one beggars description given that at the time it was written the people writing it knew full well that the office was grossly out of compliance with its major public statute, the Elections Act, 1991

The website should be the main communications vehicle.  Technology allows fewer people to do more things with less effort. All the missing reports could have been posted to the Internet within seconds of being completed thereby meeting the office's duties to the voters of the province - its "primary client" - and meeting the requirement to be open and transparent.

Openness and transparency are simple attitudes that can be tied to simple behaviours. Clearly the attitudes don't exist or the behaviours required, like filling out the formula "plans" lead people to waste energy on stuff that ultimately doesn't get the job done.

Something is seriously screwed up at the elections office. 

More people and more cash won't fix what is clearly isn't a resource problem.

If public servant Wayne Greene could meet his statutory obligations with few people and not much cash,  there's no excuse for the former cabinet minister who succeeded him and the former partisan activist of the current governing party who succeeded him.

There's a leadership problem.

Someone needs to fix it.


But just don't hold your breath waiting.

Just stand by for the "messages" to be "delivered" to "primary clients".