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Judicial Recount handbook

Appendix B – Counting Votes at the Close of Polling Day

Introduction

The procedure for counting ballots on polling day provides the necessary context for a judicial recount. Information about the procedure on polling day may also be of relevance to the procedure used by the judge to count the ballots at a recount. This Appendix describes the polling day counting procedure, with references to the relevant sections of the Act and Elections Canada manuals in square brackets.

Counting Votes at the Close of Polling Day

Immediately after the close of a polling station, the deputy returning officer shall count the votes cast at his or her polling station in the presence of the poll clerk, any additional election officer appointed and whose duties include being present at the count and any candidates or their representatives who are present or, if no candidates or representatives are present, in the presence of at least two electors. [283(1)]

The deputy returning officer shall supply the poll clerk and those present at the count who request it with a Tally Sheet to keep their own score of the voting.

With the assistance of the poll clerk and any additional election officer appointed and whose duties include being present at the count, and under the scrutiny of candidates or their representatives, the deputy returning officer shall:

Statement of the Vote

The deputy returning officer for each polling station shall prepare a Statement of the Vote setting out the number of votes in favour of each candidate and the number of rejected ballots. The original Statement of the Vote and a copy of it are placed in separate envelopes. [287(1)]

Contents of the Ballot Box

The spoiled ballots, unused ballots, rejected ballots and marked ballots, along with the list of electors and a copy of the Statement of the Vote, are placed in various envelopes, and these envelopes are placed in the ballot box. The items placed in a large envelope, which is then sealed, are the envelopes containing marked ballots, spoiled ballots, unused ballots and rejected ballots, the official list of electors and other election documents except the envelopes containing the original Statements of the Vote and the registration certificates. The form for each oath of an elector's residence taken under subsection 143(3) or paragraph 161(1)(b) or 169(2)(b) shall also be placed by the deputy returning officer in the envelope supplied for that purpose. The deputy returning officer shall then seal the ballot box. [287, 288, 288.01] The envelopes containing the registration, correction and oath of residence certificates are returned to the returning office.

Without delay after sealing the ballot box, the deputy returning officer will send the ballot box and other election documents to the returning officer. [290]

Validation of the Results

The returning officer oversees all polling stations within his or her electoral district. After the returning officer receives all of the ballot boxes from every polling station, the returning officer shall, at his or her office, proceed to validate the results using the original Statements of the Vote and the results of the count of special ballots that were counted at Elections Canada headquarters in Ottawa. [293]

The returning officer will verify and record the number of votes cast for each candidate, the number of valid votes, the number of rejected votes and the number of the total vote. [293(1), Returning Officer's Manual] The returning officer shall not open an envelope that appears to contain ballots. [295(3)]

Result of Voting

Without delay after the validation of results, the returning officer shall prepare a certificate (the Result of Voting form) setting out the number of votes cast for each candidate and forward the original to the Chief Electoral Officer and a copy of it to each candidate or his or her representative. [297] Without delay after six days following the completion of the validation of the results, the returning officer shall declare elected the candidate who obtained the largest number of votes by completing the return of the writ and forwarding the writ to the Chief Electoral Officer. [313(1)]

Counting Votes Cast by Special Ballot

A special ballot is cast differently than a regular ballot cast at a polling station on polling day or at the advance polls. Special ballots are received and counted at the returning office and at Elections Canada headquarters.

An elector who votes by special ballot shall:

  1. Receive a special ballot, an inner envelope and an outer envelope.
  2. Write the name of the candidate of his or her choice on the ballot.
  3. Place the ballot in the inner envelope and seal it.
  4. Place the inner envelope in the outer envelope and seal it.
  5. Sign the declaration on the outer envelope. [212, 213, 227(2), 238, 257, 258(1)]

Counting Special Ballots at the Returning Office

An elector who votes by special ballot in his or her electoral district must ensure that the ballot is received at the returning office before the close of the polling stations on polling day. [239(2)(a)]

A deputy returning officer and a poll clerk are appointed by the returning officer to verify the outer envelopes and to count the special ballots issued to electors in his or her electoral district and received in his or her office. [273(1)] The returning officer notifies the candidates of the time and place of the verification, and the candidates and their representatives may be present for the verification of the outer envelopes and the counting of the ballots. [274, 276(2)]

A deputy returning officer and a poll clerk follow these steps. They:

A deputy returning officer sets aside every outer envelope unopened that falls within the criteria for setting aside outer envelopes under the Act and places them in the envelope for spoiled ballots. [277(1), Deputy Returning Officer's Manual]

After the close of polling stations, the deputy returning officer shall:

Counting Special Ballots at Elections Canada Headquarters in Ottawa

An elector who votes by special ballot outside his or her electoral district must ensure that the ballot is received at the office of the special voting rules administrator in Ottawa not later than 6:00 p.m. on polling day. [239(2)(b)]

The counting of the special ballots is conducted by special ballot officers working in pairs, under the supervision of the special voting rules administrator. [264(1)]

The counting of special ballots at Elections Canada headquarters must commence on a date to be fixed by the Chief Electoral Officer or, if no date is fixed, on Wednesday, the fifth day before polling day. [266]

The special ballot officers shall set aside every outer envelope, unopened, that meets the criteria for spoiled envelopes under the Act. [267(1), (2)]

The special ballot officers shall, on examining a special ballot, reject it if it meets the rejection criteria under the Act. [269].

The special ballot officers shall prepare a Statement of the Vote and deliver it to the special voting rules administrator. [270(1)]

Without delay after the counting of the votes for every electoral district has been completed, the special voting rules administrator shall:

The Results of Votes Cast by Special Ballot