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Returning Officer's Manual

Chapter 15 – Additional Assistant Returning Officer

15.1 A Message to Additional Assistant Returning Officers

The Canada Elections Act contains provisions dealing specifically with the appointment of an additional assistant returning officer (AARO). Under subsections 30(1) to (4) of the Act, the returning officer (RO) may, on request, receive authorization from the Chief Electoral Officer (CEO) to appoint an AARO to assist in administering the electoral process in a designated area of the electoral district (ED).

To justify the designation of one or more AARO offices during an electoral event or referendum, the following criteria must be considered:

The RO must inform the CEO of which polling divisions will be included in the area to be managed by each AARO. In this chapter, this area is called the "designated area."

Under subsections 27(1) and (2) of the Act, the RO may delegate, in writing, many of his or her duties to the AARO in the designated area. For particularly remote or inaccessible areas, the RO may choose to delegate more duties to the AARO appointed for those areas.

Because you have been appointed to this very important role of AARO, we are pleased to provide you with this Chapter in the Returning Officer's Manual. This Chapter was created to assist you in performing your duties and in response to the feedback we received from past elections.

As you may know, post-event evaluation sessions were held across Canada with all ROs, field liaison officers (FLOs) and a representative group of AAROs to specifically identify AARO requirements. We look forward to receiving further feedback on your role and suggestions for potential improvements to your tools, instructions and responsibilities.

This Chapter describes your own roles and functions as well as those of your office staff. For more detailed instructions, be sure to use this Chapter in conjunction with the other chapters in the Returning Officer's Manual.

15.2 The Additional Assistant Returning Officer

15.2.1 Appointment

If requested by the RO, the Chief Electoral Officer (CEO) may designate remote or difficult-to-access areas in the RO's electoral district (ED). The CEO may authorize in writing the appointment of an AARO to assist in managing the electoral process for specific polling divisions in each designated area.
ss. 30(1)

An AARO can be appointed only with the CEO's approval.

The RO appoints the AARO by completing and submitting to Elections Canada the Appointment and Oath of Assistant Returning Officer (EC 10100). The appropriate box must be checked to indicate that the appointment is for an AARO, not an assistant returning officer (ARO).
ss. 30(1), 30(2)

15.2.2 Information for the Newly Appointed AARO

When you are appointed, you will receive the following from Elections Canada:

All other forms, materials, directives and instructional documents are issued by the RO (except SVR materials, which Elections Canada sends directly). Elections Canada sends the remaining supplies to the RO, who will redirect sufficient quantities to you based on the number of polling divisions that your office serves. Refer to the Inventory/Shipping Clerk's Manual (EC 10475).

For example, the RO will provide you with the following items:

AAROs are not involved in the filing of nomination papers; the RO deals directly with potential and confirmed candidates at all times. Should a potential candidate contact you to file his or her nomination papers, please refer the candidate to the RO.

15.2.3 Qualifications

The AARO must:

The following people may not serve as an AARO:

15.2.4 Restrictions on Political Activity

Legislative Restrictions

In accordance with the Canada Elections Act, the AARO may not be a candidate or act as an agent or auditor of any political entity.

Note: The AARO is permitted to vote.

Code of Professional Conduct

The AARO is subject to the same conflict of interest rules as the RO. Refer to the Code of Professional Conduct for Election Administrators in Chapter 21 of this manual.

During your mandate, you must comply with all restrictions associated with your position.

15.2.5 Remuneration

Remuneration for the AARO is set in the Federal Elections Fees Tariff (the "Tariff").
s. 542

The Tariff sets the fees you will be paid during an electoral event as well as the hourly rate for work you perform pre-writ and post event at the CEO's request. The Tariff also fixes the hourly rates of your staff members.

The RO will provide you with a copy of the most current Tariff. An updated version is also available on the Elections Canada website.

15.2.6 Designated Area

The RO will give you the following information and documentation, in addition to the election materials mentioned previously:

15.2.7 Delegation of Authority

Pursuant to section 27 of the Canada Elections Act, the RO may delegate the following tasks to an AARO, with the CEO's prior approval. This delegation must be made in writing.

15.2.8 Training

Once you have been appointed as AARO, the RO is responsible for giving you a five-hour training session. The curriculum is at the RO's discretion.

15.2.9 Duties

You assist the RO with the electoral event duties for which you have been appointed. A detailed job description can be found in 5.3, Additional Assistant Returning Officer of this manual.

The AARO may administer oaths and affirmations. See Chapter 7, The Event Begins in this manual.
s. 549

The AARO cannot replace the RO if he or she becomes unable to act or resigns. The AARO is not required to be present at the RO office

The AARO is required to be in the office if the SBC has been appointed but has to leave the office.

15.2.10 Responsibilities

Increase Access to the Vote

This is the primary task for which you have been appointed. You must plan and organize access to voting so that electors may exercise their right to vote under the best possible conditions. Furthermore, you must ensure that the event is conducted in a manner satisfactory to candidates and political parties.

Administer the Canada Elections Act

You must ensure that

Carry out Pre-Writ Assignments

The RO may ask you to help carry out pre-event assignments, such as searching for potential office space for yourself and your staff, selecting potential polling sites, updating the National Register of Electors and planning targeted revision. Other tasks you may be asked to help with relate to electoral geography or to action plans in anticipation of the next election.

Manage Human Resources

You recruit, direct and monitor the work of personnel; supervise and/or conduct the training of election workers; and administer the appointment and oath forms.

Open and Outfit the AARO Office

At the issue of the writ, your first priority is to rent and open an office that both meets the needs of electors in your area and satisfies Elections Canada standards. A potential office that meets these criteria should have been identified before the issue of the writ during a pre-event planning assignment in which you may have participated with the RO. If this was done, you need only confirm that the office space is still available and confirm the rental.

You are also responsible for outfitting your office with rented furniture, equipment (photocopier) and the necessary supplies. You should discuss these needs with your RO and ensure that you stay within the allocated budget.

Elections Canada will provide telephone and computing equipment directly to your office, when the election is called.

Currently, only the RO can sign the Lease for Returning Officer's Office (EC 10015).

Ensure Security

The AARO has the same security responsibilities as the ARO has in the returning office. These responsibilities include physical security, computer security and staff security. See Chapter 7, 7.5.3, Security of this manual for details.

We would like to highlight two items that have recently been added to those responsibilities:

Manage the Budget

As part of your mandate, you are responsible for managing your office budget. You must verify all receipts, invoices and staff time sheets and forward them to the financial officer for the ED, in accordance with the RO's instructions. The financial officer will submit these items to the RO for approval in due course.

The RO will give you the allocated budget for the AARO office, extracted from the ED's overall budget.

You are allotted $500 as petty cash during an electoral event to pay for small disbursements. The financial officer or RO will advise you which expenses can be paid through petty cash. No staff can be paid from petty cash. You are responsible for reconciling and submitting accounts to the RO as soon as possible or within the time frame the RO has set.

Communicate with the RO during an Event

The RO will discuss various methods of communication available, depending on geography, between the two offices. Communication may, at the RO's discretion, be conducted in the following manner:

15.3 The AARO Office

The AARO must open and manage an office during an event. Terms and rental rates must be approved by the RO and Elections Canada before the rental agreement is signed. Only the RO can sign the lease. The office must be established in a suitable public building – one that is easily reached by all electors in the designated area, provides level access and is accessible.

15.3.1 Office Requirements

You should discuss the location and rental of the AARO office with your RO. Refer to 2.1, The Local Elections Canada Office in Chapter 2 of this manual.

Consider the following requirements when choosing an AARO office:

15.3.2 Office Hours

The office must be open to the public during the hours set by the CEO – that is, the same hours as the RO office:

15.3.3 Office Activities and Staff

You are responsible for planning work schedules, supervising employees and evaluating employees for future elections. Every two weeks, you must also approve the hours worked by office staff and fax the appropriate report to the RO for submission to Elections Canada, in accordance with the RO's instructions.

Your office staff carries out the activities described in the sections below.

Special Voting Rules

Every AARO office must have at least one special ballot coordinator (SBC), appointed by the RO to manage registration and voting under the Special Voting Rules (SVR – voting by special ballot). The SBC is also responsible for supervising the office when you are absent.

For more information, see 5.36, Special Ballot Coordinator of this manual and the Special Ballot Coordinator's Manual (EC 78690).


You are responsible for managing revision activities in the AARO office. Revisions must be recorded in the REVISE application. Two revising agents work as a team to receive electors' requests. To facilitate shift work, more than one team should be trained. Each revising agent must receive a copy of the Revising Agent's Manual (EC 40240). Please refer to the Manual for Revision Supervisors (EC 40231) and the REVISE User's Guide (EC 40238) for the training and materials that revising agents require to do their job.

The revision procedures are described in those manuals as well as in Chapter 8 of this manual.

Forms that are to be used in the office will be sent in limited amounts. More can be photocopied as needed or ordered from Elections Canada headquarters through your RO.

Targeted Revision

Targeted revision is an outreach initiative devised to address the needs of certain categories of electors who are more likely than others not to appear on the preliminary lists of electors (PLE) at their current address.

As the PLE is produced with data from the National Register of Electors, it is expected that certain electors will not appear on the list at their current home address because they have recently moved. If nothing were done to promote the revision of these elector records ahead of the election period, many of these electors would not receive a voter information card (VIC) at their correct address and would have to register on polling day. In high-mobility areas, this would result in overload at registration desks and the inconvenience of long lines for voters. Targeted revision also provides the following benefits:

Targeted revision begins on Day 29 of the election calendar and ends, at the latest, on Day 6 at the close of revision.

Targeted revision is directed at electors living in:

Revising agents carrying out targeted revision use the Application for Revision or Registration on the List of Electors (EC 40030). Completed elector registration and revision forms are faxed back to the RO office to be processed in REVISE.

Note: Electors living in long-term care facilities may use the yellow copy of the Application for Revision or Registration on the List of Electors (EC 40030) as proof of address when they vote. They will still need another piece of identification as proof of identity.

Discuss targeted revision plans with the RO and, if possible, the revision supervisor. While you will supervise staff working out of your office, targeted revision is mainly the revision supervisor's responsibility. He or she oversees the work of revising agents for targeted revision and provides the addresses for door-to-door visits.

For detailed information on targeted revision, refer to the Revising Agents Manual (EC 40240). 5.33, Revising Agent of this manual also contains useful information on conducting targeted revision.

Note: Ensure that AARO office staff follows the same confidentiality guidelines as staff working in the RO office.

Suspected Cases of Double Voting

There are a number of instances where office staff may be required to complete research to ensure that double voting has not occurred. This is identified when the elector comes to vote and is already crossed off as having voted, or when the revising agents or data entry clerks are striking electors in REVISE as voted by special ballot or at an advance poll, and the elector is already crossed off as voted. In these cases, research must be completed to determine whether an administrative error has occurred, or if this is a potential instance of double voting.

If the revising agent or data entry clerk indicates that the elector is crossed off in REVISE as a national elector, you will need to provide a scanned copy of the Correction Certificate (EC 50051) to Elections Canada headquarters (ECHQ) and notify your RO.

When an elector comes to vote and is crossed off as voted, and they insist they have not voted, the deputy returning officer (DRO) will administer Oath 4: crossed off as voted on the Correction Certificate (EC 50051). The DRO and the elector will both sign the form.

The following table indicates which tools the SBC or revision clerk must use to determine if this is a potential instance of double voting:

Box checked on Correction Certificate Research required: Document to check voting status against
I have voted by special ballot Application for Registration and Special Ballot – Local Elector (EC 78530)
I have voted at an advance poll Record of Votes Cast at the Advance Polling Station (EC 50080)
I have voted at this polling station N/A

Please note that if an elector says they have not voted at the polling station and the poll clerk struck their name in error, there is no way to verify this information.

If you suspect that an elector may have voted a second time, contact the RO. You will be required to scan and send any supporting documents for review.

Note: If a suspected case of double voting is identified after polling day, or the elector has voted nationally by special ballot, the research cannot be performed at the AARO office because the white copies of the Record of Votes Cast at the Advance Polls (EC 50080) and the Application for Registration and Special Ballot – Local Elector (EC 78560) have been shipped to the returning office. You must scan and send any suspect certificates to the returning office as soon as possible so that the research may be performed.


Outreach activities respond to the unique needs and circumstances of your electoral district (ED), including your designated area. While the RO will have drawn up an action plan for outreach activities in your designated area before the writ is issued, ensure that you and the RO discuss any requirements for a community relations officer.

Community relations officers are hired to work with six population groups based on the following criteria:

Materials will be shipped to your office as soon as possible from the RO office. Please refer to the Guide for Community Relations Officers (EC 10019) for further details on outreach activities that you could be called upon to manage.

Additional Support Staff

If the volume of calls and the workload require hiring support staff, contact your RO. If the RO agrees with your request, he or she will submit a request to the Electoral Coordination Help Desk on your behalf for additional funding to cover the costs of temporary staff.

These employees are paid according to the Federal Elections Fees Tariff. (Refer to the schedule of requirements and fees in the section 7.4.9, Payment of Staff in the RO Office, in Chapter 7 of this manual.)

15.3.4 Office Set-Up

With the RO's approval, you are responsible for outfitting the AARO office with the necessary furniture, equipment and supplies. This manual contains guidelines for office furniture and equipment as well as the purchase of supplies. Refer to Appendix A at the end of this Chapter for total permitted rental costs.

Pre-Event Equipment

Before the writ is issued, the RO will provide you with a smart phone for general communication and a wireless modem to be used in the AARO office.


If you require a photocopier, you may rent one for general use. All rental agreements must ensure 24-hour service. Whenever possible, the paper and toner (ink) should be included in the rental fee. You should discuss this matter with your RO and ensure that you stay within the allocated budget.

Installation of Telephone Lines

Elections Canada will arrange for telephone service and office equipment to be installed in your office, and will be billed directly for the costs. The telephone company will install four traditional single-line sets, toll-free service and one fax line, to be distributed as follows:

Your RO will inform you if more than four lines will be installed in your office.

Installation of telephone lines is coordinated centrally by Elections Canada. A technician will contact you to set up a time for installing the lines at the issue of the writ and for decommissioning them at the end of the election period. You must oversee these activities.

Computer System

The new AARO business model includes the delivery, installation, testing, support and decommissioning of all computer equipment. As a result, we expect that the AARO will be able to focus more time on the business of elections and less on computer-related matters. The AARO office equipment will include three work stations for the office and a laptop for the training officer to use.

The AARO office will be equipped with new networked computers with connectivity to the Internet, to ECHQ and to the REVISE system. This new equipment and REVISE functionality will allow for elector information to be added, struck or revised directly onto the REVISE application in the AARO office. The REVISE application will be accessible throughout the event calendar.

Wireless Modem

As mentioned above, before the writ is issued, the RO will provide the AARO with a wireless modem. When the AARO office is opened, the AARO must bring this modem to the office. The IT technician will need it to successfully set up the AARO computer systems.

Installation and Removal of the AARO Network Computers

AARO workstations should not be accessible to the public. The monitors should be positioned to ensure that elector information cannot be viewed by the public.

As soon as the AARO address for the event has been confirmed, the IT contractor will install the computers.


Each AARO will receive an encrypted USB key containing the OS Guest image, so the IT contractor can install the applications on the computers. The IT contractor will do the following:

  1. contact the AARO with the estimated delivery date for hardware to the AARO office
  2. schedule the set-up and installation of the network and computers
  3. install and test the hardware within three calendar days of the office address confirmation
  4. install, test and secure the Internet hardware and software (this includes any cabling or wireless set-up)
  5. obtain the AARO's sign-off that all hardware is installed and working properly and that the Internet connection is working

The AARO office computer will be connected to the Elections Canada network via the Internet. This will ensure that elector information and other data is updated and shared in a timely fashion. The networked computers will give the AARO access to

Protection of Information

Elector personal information is protected through legislation. The Privacy Act requires that personal information be safeguarded, and that all data collected by Elections Canada be used only for the purposes set out in the Canada Elections Act.

It is your overall responsibility to ensure that information is kept secure at all times. Follow these steps to secure the office and to ensure that sensitive information in the office is safeguarded.

Resolve and inform EC of procedural security breaches, such as

15.4 Election Materials Shipped before an Event

Before a possible event, Elections Canada will ship you all the materials you need to manage the Special Voting Rules (SVR) and open your office. The packages of election materials will be sent directly to your home by courier. Your signature is required upon receipt; if you are not home when the materials arrive, the courier will leave a notification card and the packages will be returned to the post office nearest you. You can then pick them up when it is convenient for you.

15.4.1 The Initial Shipment to Your Home

Before the writ is issued, you will receive an initial shipment of materials so you can open your office when the election is called. Refer to the section 1.8, Managing Election Materials, in Chapter 1 of this manual for information and instructions that may also apply to you.

All the materials that the SBC needs to begin special ballot registration and voting, including 1,500 special ballots, will be sent to you when the writ is issued, or to the RO prior to the issue of the writ, if possible. It is very important that the SBC keep a record of all the special ballots that have been shipped. For detailed information, refer to the Special Ballot Coordinator's Manual (EC 78690), specifically the section Ballot Papers in an Additional Office.

The lists of materials shipped to your home is in Appendix B at the end of this chapter.

Note: Materials destined for electors in Quebec are identified with a "-1" after the EC number; they provide the information in French first. (For example, see Appendix B-1)

15.5 Storage of Election Materials

The initial shipment of election materials will have to be stored at your home. If this is not feasible, you should rent commercial storage space. Before doing so, you must obtain two quotes from local commercial storage companies and submit the quotes to the RO for approval.

15.5.1 Storage Fee

It is estimated that each AARO will need approximately 25 cubic feet of space to store the election materials before the issue of the writ.

The Tariff of Fees (currently under review) allows $40.00 per month for the storage of election materials at the AARO's home until the issue of the writ. To be reimbursed for this amount (in March or September), you must submit a special account form to the RO.

Note: Remember to advise the RO and Elections Canada of any change to your current address or telephone number(s).

15.6 Shipment of Election Materials

At the time the writ is issued, expect to receive shipments of materials and electoral documents. You will find below the approximate calendar of delivery.

15.6.1 Essential Election Materials during an Election

As soon as possible after the writ is issued, the RO office will ship the following election materials to your office:

Contact the inventory control clerk in the RO office if anything is missing or if you do not receive this material in a timely fashion.

You will also receive the following:

Note: Election workers' manuals are now stored on the Elections Canada website as PDF files. This makes them available for downloading and printing if you do not receive enough copies in a timely fashion. To access the files, go to

15.6.2 Materials for Advance Poll Training and for Advance Polls

As soon as they are available, and by Day 13 at the latest, you will receive the following from the RO:

15.6.3 Materials for Ordinary Poll Training and for Election Day

As soon as they are available and by Day 9 at the latest, you will receive the following items from the RO:

As soon as they are available, between days 5 and 3, you will receive:

15.6.4 Special Ballot Materials to Be Shipped to the RO Office from the AARO Office

Immediately after special ballot registration ends at 6:00 p.m. on Day 6, the special ballot coordinator (SBC) in the AARO office has three hours to assemble all the documents that must be returned to the RO office for the verification of the outer envelopes and the count of local special ballots and to prepare for shipment all national special ballots that must be returned to Elections Canada headquarters. The SBC must open the ballot boxes in your presence and in the presence of the candidates (if any are present). There is no requirement for witnesses for the unsealing of the ballot box if candidate representatives are not present.

Local Special Ballots

The SBC must package the local outer envelopes in a large brown envelope (EC 11520) to be returned to the RO office for the count. (If the SBC has issued local voting kits to electors and those electors have not returned their outer envelopes to the SBC by Day 6, the AARO must send the outer envelopes to the SBC at the RO office if they are brought to the AARO office between Day 6 and polling day.)

The SBC will place everything in a ballot box, seal it and return it without delay to the RO office, according to arrangements made by your RO. The SBC should use the fastest and most secure means of delivery.

National Special Ballots

The SBC must package all national outer envelopes in a large brown envelope (EC 11520), to be returned to ECHQ before the deadline using the fastest and most secure means of delivery. (If the SBC has issued national voting kits to electors and those electors have not returned their outer envelopes to the SBC by Day 6, the AARO must send the outer envelopes to ECHQ if they are brought to the AARO office between Day 6 and polling day.)

The SBC's duties in the AARO office end at 9:00 p.m. on Day 6. Refer to the Special Ballot Coordinator's Manual (EC 78690), specifically the section entitled Electoral Districts with AARO Offices.

15.7 Election Night, Post Polling Day and Closing-Out Activities for the AARO Office

On election night, you must be prepared to receive the material from the polling stations in your area. Please refer to the 18.7, Election Night Checklist (RO Office), in Chapter 18 of this manual for set-up instructions.

15.7.1 Essential Documents to Be Shipped to the RO after Election Night

Items to be processed and shipped to the RO office urgently

On Day -1, you must send the following election-related materials to the RO:

Items to be data entered in the AARO office and then shipped to the RO
Items to be shipped as soon as possible

Once all the materials have been forwarded to the RO, you will continue closing out your office on Day -3 to -5, or as soon as possible after that.

15.7.2 Post-Polling Day Data Capture

Give the envelopes (EC 50390) containing Registration Certificates (EC 50050) and/or Correction Certificates (EC 50051) for each polling station in your designated area to your data entry clerks to enter into REVISE. Ensure that proper local and national searches are done before electors are added.

Enter the completed Accessibility Checklist (EC 12152) in the Field Personnel Intranet. Once data capture is complete, you will continue closing out your office.

Please refer to Appendix A of the Automation Coordinator's Manual (EC 10500) for close-out procedures.

15.7.3 Return of Remaining Documents

The documents below should be returned to the RO office once data capture of the polling day registrations and corrections is complete.

15.7.4 Return of Equipment and Supplies

Computer Workstation

After the event ends, the IT contractor will call the AARO to set up a time to remove the equipment.

Rented Furniture and Equipment

Any furniture and/or equipment (e.g., photocopier) rented from local suppliers must be returned prior to closing your office.

Election Materials

You must also send (possibly in a separate shipment) the following items to the RO:

Once all Elections Canada supplies have been shipped to the RO, you must confirm the closing-out of the office by calling the RO with the shipment details.

15.8 Appendix A

Table 15b: Office Staff
Description Number of Hours of Work Rate* Set Total* for Election Period
Additional assistant returning officer (AARO) During office hours of AARO office $13,441.03
Special ballot coordinator During office hours of the RO or AARO office 37 and 31 days respectively $16.73/hr
Revising agents (2) As determined by the RO $13.32/hr To be completed
Training officer (if applicable) As determined by the RO $20.38/hr
Table 15c: Estimates of Office Costs (Under Review)
Description Total* for Election Period
Office rental (approximately 1,500 square feet) On approval by the Logistics and Infrastructure Group
Furniture** $1,000
Supplies** $300
Fax machine $600
Photocopier $800
Equipment (see list in Returning Officer's Manual) $500

*Amounts are approximate. Refer to your official budget for exact amounts.

**See Table 2b:, Budget Guidelines: Office Furniture and Equipment by Population (under review) in Chapter 2 of this manual.

Note: Any additional funds must be pre-approved by calling the RO, who will, in turn, submit a special request to the Electoral Coordination Help Desk for approval.

*** Budgets to be confirmed ***

15.9 Appendix B

Table 15d: Election Materials to be shipped to the AARO
Kit Number Description
38 Accessories and material for AARO office
38-A AARO Material – Manuals
39-A Material for Special Ballot Coordinators
39-B Kit for Special Ballot Coordinators