P.E.I. electoral reform: Eliminate coin toss in tie vote, says chief electoral officer

Prince Edward Island's chief electoral officer, Gary MacLeod, has recommended getting rid of the coin toss in the event of a tie in a provincial election.

Gary MacLeod also recommending an end to door to door enumeration

Prince Edward Island's chief electoral officer, Gary MacLeod, has recommended getting rid of the coin toss in the event of a tie in a provincial election. It's one of the changes he's suggested to P.E.I.'s Elections Act.

MacLeod's 38 recommendations were tabled in the provincial Legislature Thursday.

After a judicial recount following the May 4 provincial election, Liberal candidate Alan McIssac was tied with Progressive Conservative candidate Mary Ellen McInnis in the district of Vernon River-Stratford. 

We are the only ones with a coin toss- Gary MacLeod

A coin toss decided who would be the MLA of that riding. 

MacLeod is recommending that in any future tie situations, instead of a coin toss, a byelection be held within six months instead.

"I have gone and done some research with other jurisdictions across Canada. The majority of them do have a byelection option. We are the only ones with a coin toss," said MacLeod. 

"The quickest way is obviously when something can happen right then and there, either with a coin toss, draw a name from a receptacle or have a returning officer make the deciding vote. But when I looked at the whole process, to be fair to everybody, I felt that a by-election may be the fairest way." 

Removes possibility of conflict

The chief electoral officer has also recommended that door-to-door voter confirmation or enumeration not be done in future. He says it's expensive and often presents safety issues for enumerators. He says some have been bitten by dogs, others were screamed at, and others had problems with snow covered and sometimes dangerous country roads.

MacLeod said Elections Canada and several other provinces have done away with this.

"{The} voters list can be updated and maintained continuously," said MacLeod.

MacLeod is also recommending that district returning officers no longer be politically appointed, but rather be appointed by the Elections P.E.I. office. 

"It just makes everything non-partisan. It removes any possibility of any conflict ... the perception could be improved upon," said MacLeod. 

MacLeod says these are only recommendations and it will be up to the provincial legislature to decide whether to move forward with them or not.