‘Room for improvement’ in administration of Hamilton’s 2022 election: auditor


Published May 31, 2023 at 6:08 pm

Hamilton’s auditor general has found no major issues with the city’s systems and procedures during the 2022 municipal election, though “there was still some room for improvement.”

The Office of the City Clerk’s “processes substantially complied with requirements” under the Municipal Elections Act, according to the Office of the Auditor General. The City Clerk is responsible for administering municipal elections and ensuring they are “conducted impartially and fairly, without bias or influence.”

Auditor General Charles Brown presented the findings from the Elections Administration Audit to the city’s General Issues Committee on Wednesday (May 31). The audit included processes leading up to and during the municipal election.

“I think we are certainly gratified to have the opportunity to do this because having fair and free elections is the cornerstone of our democracy,” he told hamilton.insauga.com during a virtual press conference today (May 31). He noted that running an election is “a daunting process” that requires those who administer it to be “organized, fast and nimble.”

However, Brown found some compliance issues related to voting hours, voter lists and notification. The city’s auditor said the “deviations” did not compromise “confidentiality of voting, absence of bias, voter accessibility, integrity, certainty and accuracy of results, and fair and consistent treatment of voters and candidates.”

One compliance problem was an email privacy breach as a result of “human error” when the CC (carbon copy) function was used instead of BCC (blind carbon copy). It affected 167 voters who had registered to use the Vote by Mail process. Their email addresses became visible to everyone in a mass email, according to Brown. Brown noted it was not a systemic issue and recipients were informed about the breach.

The council-directed audit aimed to review and assess the adequacy and effectiveness of systems and procedures in place to administer the 2022 election, including logistics, communications, planning and preparations. It also assessed the City’s compliance with the provisions of the Municipal Elections Act.

The auditor made 50 recommendations to the clerk that aims to strengthen the democratic process in Hamilton by improving municipal election administration. That includes developing “more robust contingency plans and processes for the loss or interruption of election technology functionality.”

“We hope to be making headway with these recommendations,” Brown said. “I think there was still some room for improvement.”

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