Secondary menu

Returning Officer's Manual

Chapter 11 – Ballots

This Chapter instructs you on how to manage ballot production.

11.1 Ballots

Electors exercise their right to vote through the ballot. Therefore, you must be especially diligent when overseeing ballot preparation, as there are very stringent deadlines imposed by the Canada Elections Act (CEA).

There are two types of ballots:

Table 11a: Ballot types
Ballot Type Purpose
Special ballots These blank ballots are used for voting by special ballot in accordance with the Special Voting Rules (SVR). Electors must write in the name of their chosen candidate. (Refer to 11.5, Special Ballots for an overview or to Chapter 12, Special Voting Rules for detailed information.)
Official printed ballots These ballots are printed with the candidates' names and are used during regular and advance polling days. When printed ballots become available, local electors may use them when voting in the RO office, in accordance with the SVR.

11.2 Shipment of Ballot Paper Sheets

Ballot paper sheets are boxed, in bundles of 500. The number of sheets supplied is based on the number of candidates in your electoral district (ED) for the previous election, for an average of six candidates.

Elections Canada (EC) supplies the following material:

  1. A sufficient number of sheets of ballot papers are sent directly to the printing company by Day 25 or 24, unless you indicate otherwise during the pre-event assignments.
  2. For the back of the ballot, EC provides the image for one ballot (camera-ready copy in electronic format) available in the RO Public Folders. The printer will have to lay-out the entire ballot sheet according to the number of ballots that can fit on one sheet of ballot paper. The number of candidates on the front of the ballot will be used as a guide to determine how many ballots, as well as the alignment, can fit onto one sheet of ballot paper.
    Figure 11a Sample image for the back of the ballot

    Figure 11a Sample image for the back of the ballot

  3. For the front of the ballot EC provides the image for the entire ballot paper sheet. This image will be emailed directly to the RO Office email account once the List of Candidates is confirmed. The front of the ballot contains the names of the candidates and their political party affiliation (or independent if no party affiliation is identified on the nomination paper). Figure 11b Sample image for the front of the entire ballot paper sheet

    Figure 11b Sample image for the front of the entire ballot paper sheet

  4. The Instructions for the Ballot Printer (EC 10720).
  5. The Printing Specifications for Ballot Papers (EC 10760).
  6. The Ballot Paper Proof Sheet (EC 10800).
  7. A Specimen Book of Ballots for Printer (EC 10791).

These materials must be delivered to the printing company a few days before printing begins. The printing company must use the images provided by EC.

Notify EC if more candidates are running than at the last election. EC will then recalculate the quantity of ballot paper required and, if needed, will ship additional ballot paper sheets to the printing company as soon as possible after the close of nominations, even if some candidates remain unconfirmed. Given the distance of some EDs, you must ensure that the printer has enough ballot paper sheets to print ballots.

11.3 Ballot Proof Printing Ballot Proof Printing Specifications

Review the printing specifications with the printing company. The Printing Specifications for Ballot Papers (EC 10760) instructs the printing company on what is required to produce and assemble the books of ballots. The printer must perforate the ballot paper according to the instructions found in the Instructions for the Ballot Printer (EC 10720). You should read this manual before meeting with the printing company.

Note: Consult the printing company early to ensure materials are compatible with the printing equipment.

11.3.1 Names of Candidates on Ballots

The names of the candidates must appear on the ballot in exactly the same way as they do on the Nomination Paper (EC 20010). The names are arranged alphabetically by surname and centred on one line, followed by their party affiliation. The party affiliation accompanies a candidate's name only when the CEA requirements for endorsement are respected. Otherwise, only the candidate's name appears on the ballot.
ss. 117(2)

If a candidate has the endorsement of a political party and wishes the name of that party to be printed on the ballot, that candidate's Nomination Paper (EC 20010) must be accompanied by a letter signed by the person or persons authorized by the political party to endorse prospective candidates that states that the prospective candidate is endorsed by the party.
par.67(4)(c)

A political party may endorse only one prospective candidate in each ED for any given election. A party must be registered by the close of nominations in order to be printed on the ballots below the candidate's name. An eligible party becomes a registered party if it has at least one candidate whose nomination has been confirmed for an election and its application to become registered was made at least 60 days before the issue of the writ(s) for that election and has not been withdrawn.

As soon as possible after the deadline for confirming candidates (2:00 p.m. on Day 19), EC advises you by email which political parties failed to meet the CEA requirements so that you can remove their party name(s) from the ballot. Only a series of black dots will appear under the names of their candidates on the ballot. Refer to the 18.15, Proof of Ballot Paper Checklist on Chapter 18.

The candidate's address and/or occupation are not printed on the ballot, except in very rare cases such as when two candidates both have the same name and have asked to be identified as "independent" on the ballot, or have asked not to have their party affiliation printed on the ballot under their name. In this situation, the candidate is entitled to request (before 5:00 p.m. on closing day, Day 21) that his or her address or occupation be printed on the ballot in order to distinguish him or her from the other candidate.
ss. 117(5)

Candidates Running as Independents or with No Designation

When a candidate is running as an independent, the word "Independent" follows the name on the ballot. If a candidate has requested that there be no designation, then a series of black dots is inserted instead.

11.3.2 Approval of Proof of Ballots

  1. After all candidates have been confirmed (2:00 p.m. on Day 19), EC will provide you with the ballot proof image for the front and back of the ballot. The image for the front of the ballot is for an entire ballot paper sheet and the back must be set according to the printing specifications.
  2. Email the ballot proof image to the printer; the printer will prepare the proof (blues), then scan it and return it to you via email.
  3. E-mail the ballot proof (front and back, in PDF format) to the Elections Canada Support Network as soon as you receive it from the printer (on Day 19 or 18). Electoral Coordination will send you approval by telephone or email. The ballot proof is not finalized until you receive the approval from Electoral Coordination.

Refer to Chapter 18 Management Materials, 18.15, Proof of Ballot Paper Checklist

Figure 11c Sample proof for front and back of ballot

Figure 11c Sample proof for front and back of ballot

Keep a copy of the List of Candidates Verification Report and the approved ballot proof for your records.

Note: The printing company must not print ballots until EC approves the scanned copy of the proof. Ensure the printing company prints the ballots as soon as possible upon EC's approval.
s. 116, s. 117

11.3.3 Number of Ballots Required

Although the revision of the lists of electors may not yet be complete, it may be possible to fairly accurately calculate the number of ballots required based on the number of electors on the Day 19 List of Electors immediately after the close of nominations. The Detailed Calculation of the Number of Ballots Required (EC 10400) is an MS Excel electronic form.

When completing the form, consult the Polling Station Report or the Cumulative Statistics Report provided by the Automation Coordinator and enter the number for each polling station and the number of electors registered for each polling station. The calculations are done automatically. Send a copy of the form to Electoral Financing along with the printing company's account and affidavit for processing payment.

The number of ballots required is calculated as follows:

  1. For each polling station, as many ballots as the number of electors on the Day 19 List of Electors plus 5 percent, rounded up to the next 25 (for isolated areas, it may be wise to provide a larger margin for last-minute shortages).
  2. For each advance polling station, 700 ballots.
  3. 5 percent of the total of #1 and #2 to keep at the office (for emergencies).
  4. 500 ballots for local electors who will personally cast a special ballot in the office according to SVR.

Since you use figures from the Day 19 List of Electors to calculate the number of ballots required, these numbers may have to be adjusted in some areas. For example, if targeting a new housing development during the revision period, you can expect the number of electors of a particular polling division to increase significantly before polling day. Increase the number of names on the lists for that polling division by estimating how many additional electors are expected to register through targeted revision. In the case of an Aboriginal reserve where very few electors are registered, you should calculate the number of ballots required based on the population, not electors on the lists.

Note: Ballots reserved for advance polls that were not used cannot be used on election day.

11.3.4 Delivery of Official Printed Ballots

Verify each ballot when received from the printing company to ensure that the name of each candidate is printed correctly. Include the printed ballots with other supplies in the ballot boxes.

The printing company must also return all unused ballot paper sheets, portions of sheets, or sheets spoiled during the printing process, along with all cut-off portions after printing is completed. The material must be sent to EC after election day.

Note: Once the regular ballots are printed, electors who choose to vote immediately in the RO office can do so by using the regular ballot in the envelope system.
s. 241

11.4 Security of Ballots

The ballots and any printing material (such as ballot paper sheets, offset reproduction sheets, etc.) must be securely kept and accounted for, to prevent unauthorized use.

11.4.1 Affidavit of the Printer

Give the Affidavit of the Printer of the Ballot Papers (EC 10300) form to the printing company. The affidavit must be completed and sworn before you or any other person authorized to receive affidavits in the province. The printing company returns the completed affidavit when delivering the ballots. Ensure that all the requested information appears on the affidavit and send a copy, along with the printing company's invoice, to Electoral Financing.

11.5 Special Ballots

The special ballot coordinator's (SBC) kit contains 1,500 special ballots. If there is an additional RO office, the SBC's kit contains 1,500 special ballots and is sent directly to the additional office. The SBC must:

  1. Set aside 500 special ballots for electors voting outside the ED (national electors).
  2. In the RO office, set aside 500 regular ballots, when they are available, for local electors who wish to vote immediately in the RO office. For the AARO office, determine the required number of regular ballots and send them to the additional office.
  3. Keep track of the serial numbers of the special ballots and regular ballots on a separate sheet.
  4. Ensure that all election supplies, ballots and ballot boxes are stored under lock and key at closing time.