An international observer mission has arrived to watch over next week’s federal vote and report on how controversial changes to Canada’s election laws affect the democratic process.

Hannah Roberts, who is leading the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe mission, told CTV’s Power Play that the group decided to send a team to Canada for the Oct. 19 election after assessing the need for a mission in May.

“People thought it would be useful to have independent assessment of the elections, particularly in view of the fact that there’s this new legislative framework, and in order to see how that is, and also how it works in practice,” said Roberts. 

“Some of the other issues that came up are around campaign finance, the participation of national minorities and aboriginal peoples.”

That new legislation is the Fair Elections Act. The bill became law last year and, among other measures, includes stricter identification requirements for voters -- a change critics say makes voting more difficult for some Canadians. According to Roberts, the OSCE team is in Canada to monitor the effects of those changes. 

“We’re a six-person team and we’re here for a few weeks so we’re not here to quantify the election or investigate every detail of it. We’re here to look at the system and see where the system’s working well … and also where there can be improvements.” 

Roberts said her team will go to polling stations to see how things are working and talk to people to get to the bottom of any problems, so they can determine how to best prevent those issues from arising again. The group will then release a public report on its findings and corresponding recommendations a couple of months after the election. 

While the OSCE has monitored more controversial elections in countries such as Ukraine, Roberts said it is not unusual for member states to invite observers to their own country as well. There are 57 member states in the OSCE, including Canada.