Returning Officer's Manual
Chapter 2 – Pre-Event and Pre-Writ Tasks
This Chapter provides guidance to returning officers for pre-event and pre-writ tasks such as identifying local Elections Canada field offices; becoming familiar with the automated systems; making arrangements for electoral facilities and for printing; revising the National Register of Electors; and consulting with political parties.
- 2.1 The Local Elections Canada Office
- 2.2 Automated Systems
- 2.3 Arrangements for Electoral Facilities
- 2.4 Printing
- 2.5 Review of Lists from the National Register of Electors
- 2.6 Consultation with Political Parties
2.1 The Local Elections Canada Office
ROs are responsible for establishing and managing a returning office in their electoral district (ED) during an electoral event. In some EDs, one or more AARO offices may also be required.
Do not rent an office, furniture or equipment before the writ is issued, unless specifically authorized by Elections Canada. However, before the issue of the writ, you will be mandated to:
- Search for and identify potential office(s);
- Manage the layout of the facilities by drawing up a floor plan for that potential space;
- Develop lists for furniture, equipment and supplies; and
- Search for, identify and negotiate costs and terms with potential suppliers.
- No expenses may be incurred before the writ is issued, unless specifically authorized by Elections Canada;
- EC does not pay for unauthorized expenses;
- EC grants special permission, in writing, to engage certain expenses;
- Invoices are not paid based on verbal requests.
Contact the Electoral Coordination Help Desk with any concerns about expenses.
2.1.2 Office Search
When requested by the CEO, identify a potential office location and begin tentative negotiations concerning costs and terms. All terms and rates for office space must be approved by EC before an agreement is signed. EC provides the Lease for Returning Officer's Office (EC 10015).
Note: No lease can be signed until the CEO has given authorization.
When selecting an office, try to ensure that all the required space is grouped together on the same floor, if possible.
The electrical requirements for the local area network (LAN) are also a factor. Ensure that the premises have at least three dedicated 15-amp circuits and five electrical outlets (grounded).
The RO office must be centrally located within the ED boundaries and easily accessible by the majority of electors. Where available, the office must be located in an area serviced by public transportation.
The office must project the professional image its function entails and must provide prompt, efficient service to electors. It must not be located in a private home or dwelling. The office should never be located in the same complex or in close proximity to a candidate's campaign headquarters.
When negotiating a rental agreement early and if additional space is vacant, obtain the landlord's commitment that such space is not rented to candidates or political parties for campaigning purposes. (See paragraphs 33 and 34 of the Lease for Returning Officer's Office (EC 10015).
Ensure that the proposed location has the necessary cabling to accommodate the type of telephone system to be installed, thereby avoiding considerable delays in getting started. EC confirms that the space provides enough telephone lines through the local telephone company. See paragraph 12.4 of the Lease for Returning Officer's Office for telecoms requirements. The Telecom group will perform a facilities check before the general election if time permits.
The office must be accessible. ROs should do their best to ensure that the office space meets all mandatory criteria in the Accessibility Checklist (EC 12152) and to the extent possible, all non-mandatory criteria. By ensuring that all mandatory criteria are met, you will comply with accessibility requirements in the Canada Elections Act and in the non-negotiable terms of the Lease for Returning Officer's Office (EC 10015).
2.1.5 Space Required
In order to estimate the office space required, refer to Table 2a:, Minimum Office Space Required Based on ED Population below.
Another factor in estimating office size is to determine whether you intend to conduct the training of election officers in the office or in other rented premises.
The office should be of sufficient size to accommodate all regular staff, which may vary in number at different intervals and for different activities.
The following are offered as guidelines only in determining the space needed and are approximate. They should be considered to be minimal requirements:
- Space required for automated production of the lists of electors;
- Space required for reception and training area;
- Space required for the SBC and revising agents' desks;
- Space required to accommodate the return of ballot boxes on polling night.
|Population||Approximate square footage||Approximate square meters|
|Up to 44,999||2,600||242|
|45,000 to 59,999||3,000||279|
|60,000 to 74,999||3,400||316|
|75,000 to 89,999||3,800||353|
|90,000 to 109,999||4,200||390|
|110,000 and over||4,600||428|
Consider the following requirements when choosing the RO office layout:
- If possible, you should have a private office;
- If possible, the ARO should have a private office;
- The SBC should have a closed-off area, large enough to accommodate one elector and a potential candidate representative;
- The AC must have a separate area where key computer equipment (office server) and revision forms and journals are kept from public view at all times;
- The revision supervisor and revising agents should have a separate area ideally next to the SBC;
- A separate area is needed to sort and store various electoral materials and supplies out of public view;
- Sufficient space and adequate electrical circuits for the LAN equipment;
- Sufficient telephone installations must be available to meet the telephone systems requirements;
- A general work area is needed for regular office staff, e.g. clerks, receptionist, etc.; and
- Sufficient space is needed for polling night activities.
- When visiting a potential office, draft a floor plan, or ask for a floor plan. Identify:
- the different work areas;
- where furniture, phones, computers, etc. would be installed; and
- where the phone and electrical outlets are located.
Such a plan will simplify and accelerate the LAN equipment and telephone installations as well as the setup of furniture, etc. when it arrives from the supplier.
Refer to Figure 2a, Returning Office Floor Plan.
Figure 2a Returning Office Floor Plan
2.1.7 Rental Negotiations
ROs cannot rent premises or sign leases until the CEO has given authorization. Tentative negotiations may be made with a prospective landlord regarding the terms and conditions of a rental.
Rental of office space should be for two months (the "original term") with the possibility of an extension for two additional periods of 30 Days. Elections Canada will provide additional information, if circumstances change.
The Lease Agreement
The Lease for Returning Officer's Office (EC 10015) must be used to rent the office. If the landlord suggests amendments, you must manually strike out what is deemed "not acceptable" to the landlord on the lease agreement. You must obtain an authorization from RO Logistics, by sending in the amended lease for review, before agreeing to the terms and prior to an election call.
If the landlord refuses to use Elections Canada's lease, preferring his own, you must obtain an authorization from RO Logistics, by sending in a copy of the proposed lease, before agreeing to sign it.
Note: All changes to the lease must be made in writing, and submitted to RO Logistics for approval.
All services such as parking, heating/air conditioning, lighting, potable water, cleaning (specify: frequency; areas to be cleaned; supplies included, etc.) should be included in the rental fee as well as security (specify: fire extinguisher on location; smoke alarms installed and functional; security guard on location or alarm system installed; etc.). Also, specify if any furniture is included in the rental fee. Inquire as to whether all taxes are included in the rental fee. The landlord's GST number is required before this tax can be paid.
Rental and Payment
The rental fee to cover the lease is paid in two installments: one cheque no later than 10 calendar days after the tenant receives a copy of the lease signed by both parties. The final payment is issued five calendar days after the end of the original term.
The rental fee payable for each additional period, if the option to extend the lease is exercised, shall be paid ten calendar days after the date upon which notice is sent to the landlord to exercise the option to extend the term of the lease.
For pre-approval, fax the Lease for Returning Officer's Office (EC 10015) to Elections Canada to the attention of RO Logistics.
Note: No lease can be signed until the CEO has given authorization.
2.1.8 Rental Authorization
The terms and rates for rental of an office for the duration of the electoral event must be pre-approved by EC before the writ is issued and before any agreement is signed.
When the writ is issued and the office is pre-approved, you must notify the Electoral Coordination Help Desk by telephone of the following:
- The complete mailing address of the office, even if the latter is the same as the address previously submitted on the Rental of Office Space form (EC 10011) during the pre-event task;
- That you have the keys in hand and are ready to take possession of the office;
- That you have the wireless equipment in the office (cellular phones and wireless modem)
- That your lease(s) is signed.
EC has put in place comprehensive tenant insurance for all leased locations (e.g. RO offices, AARO offices, SVRE (Special Voting Regional Expansion) AARO, and polling locations). The lease template will contain a clause providing the exact type of insurance coverage obtained. The clause will provide that the landlord may request a copy of the insurance certificate (Certificate of Insurance EC 10016) relating to the leased premises.
Landlords may also request to be added as an additional insured under ECs insurance policy. To facilitate this endorsement in the insurance coverage, EC will provide ROs with a template form entitled Request to be Added as an Additional Insured, which ROs must fill out in conjunction with the landlord and send to the Electoral Coordination Help Desk.
Should a mishap (theft, vandalism, etc.) occur, report the incident to the local police, and then contact the Electoral Coordination Help Desk before taking any other action. It should be noted that EC will not compensate ROs, elections officers and office staff for the loss, damage or theft of personal property.
ROs, election officers and office staff are compensated for work related injuries under the Government Employees Compensation Act (GECA). Claimants are asked to provide a medical report describing the nature and extent of the injuries prior to processing the claims. Instructions on how to submit a claim for such an injury are provided to ROs. Complete the Returning Officer's Accident Report form (EC 10014), found under Election Materials in ECDocs, and fax it to the Electoral Coordination Help Desk.
ROs are supplied with two sizes of outdoor signs (EC 10980 and EC 10990) as part of Lot 4, shipped prior to the issue of the writ, to clearly identify the location of the office along with indoor signs to indicate the hours of business (EC 10970).
The outdoor signs are 51" x 36" and 30" x 20". These signs are produced on water repellent fabric.
The small indoor signs indicating office hours should be placed in a visible area, easily seen and close to windows near the office entrance.
2.1.11 Office Furniture and Equipment
You are responsible for renting all furniture and equipment needed for the office except for the computers and printers. Refer to Chapter 18, Office Furniture and Equipment List. If required items do not appear on the list, contact the Electoral Coordination Help Desk for authorization.
Note: Invoices for AARO's office are submitted separately.
Make a list of furniture and equipment needed and approach suppliers for rental costs and terms. Refer to 18.10, Furniture to Rent and 18.9, Equipment to Rent on Chapter 18 for sample order forms. When the writ is issued, your orders can then be placed quickly and efficiently.
A coffee maker is the only item that may be purchased and must not exceed $50. The coffee maker must appear on the list of reusable items, and at the end of the electoral event must be kept by the returning officer for safekeeping. Refer to Chapter 18, 18.11, List of Reusable Office Supplies and Materials.
Note: The costs for the coffee and condiments are not reimbursed by EC and should be paid by those who use them.
In addition to the multifunction (print, scan & fax) device and large printer(s) provided by the LAN equipment contractor, ROs may wish to rent or lease a mid-size photocopier, since a considerable number of documents must be reproduced in the normal course of activities. The office photocopier however is not recommended for large printing jobs; use the services of a printing company instead.
The photocopier should be rented with the following capabilities:
- Sorter/stapler (10 copy minimum);
- Flat rate rental fee (whenever possible);
- 24 hours, seven days a week service; and
- Whenever possible, the paper and toner (ink) should be included in the rental fee.
Rental costs vary considerably and some are based on different calculations, e.g., flat rate vs. volume rate, service calls, etc. Use discretion in such negotiations.
ROs are required to stay within the budget guideline provided in Table 2b:, Budget Guidelines: Office Furniture and Equipment by Population (under review), for the rental of office furniture and equipment. These amounts are not to be exceeded unless written authorization is received from EC. As mentioned earlier, if required furniture or equipment does not appear on the list, contact the Electoral Coordination Help Desk for authorization. The budget includes the rental cost of one photocopier. If suppliers cannot meet the allocated budget requirements, two written proposals must be presented to the Electoral Coordination Help Desk before the issue of the writ. No authorization is granted without these proposals.
EC does not reimburse the rental or purchase of plants or other decorative items for the office.
Note: During an event, any additional funds must be pre-approved by submitting request for additional budgets to the Electoral Coordination Help Desk for approval. The RO Special Request form is located on the Field Personnel Intranet under the forms tab.
|Population||Maximum Amount for Electoral Period ($)|
|Up to 44,999||6,100|
|45,000 to 59,999||7,300|
|60,000 to 74,999||8,500|
|75,000 to 89,999||11,100|
|90,000 to 109,999||12,300|
|110,000 and over||12,400|
Note: The above amounts are approximate. Please refer to your official budget for the exact amounts
2.1.12 Office Supplies
To plan the purchase of supplies, refer to Chapter 18, List of Reusable Office Supplies and Materials. You are responsible for buying the necessary supplies within the budget allocated to the ED.
Note: Use the acquisition card for these purchases.
You may get a discount of 25% to 46% on general office items, depending on the requirement, by contacting any branches of the suppliers that have federal government standing offers. When contacting the supplier, show or mention the EC identification card and acquisition card. A suggested list of office suppliers with standing offers is found in Table 2c, Office Supplies – Suppliers with Standing Offers. If other suppliers offer better pricing, purchase the supplies at the location offering the best prices.
|Grand & Toy||www.grandandtoy.com||English/French||National|
|Lyreco (Canada) Inc.||www.lyreco.ca||English/French||National|
|Art Woods Office Supplies||www.artwoods.com||English/French||NCR|
|Totem Offisource Inc.||www.totemoffisource.com||English/French||NCR|
Do not exceed the following amounts without written authorization from EC.
|Population||Maximum ($) Allowed|
|Up to 44,999||2,000|
|45,000 to 59,999||2,200|
|60,000 to 74,999||2,400|
|75,000 to 89,999||2,700|
|90,000 to 109,999||2,900|
|111,000 and over||3,100|
If an item does not appear on the list of office supplies, contact the Electoral Coordination Help Desk before buying it.
After the electoral event, complete the Reusable Materials column, 18.11, List of Reusable Office Supplies and Materials on Chapter 18 and return the form to the Electoral Coordination Help Desk. These supplies must be kept for safekeeping by the returning officer (do not place them in the boxes of materials, which are returned to the Distribution Centre): binders, cash box, coffee machine, extension cords, first-aid kit, garbage cans, hanging file folders, in/out baskets, letter openers, pencil sharpeners, power bars, staple removers, staplers, tape dispensers, and, three or one-hole punches.
2.1.13 Telephone Installations and Service
It is necessary for the potential office locations to have the appropriate electric and telephone wiring to accommodate the type of telephone installation. An evaluation of the potential office location by the telephone company is performed, time permitting (facilities check) before a final decision is made to lease the premises.
Office Telephony Blueprint
The Office Telephony Blueprint is essentially a map showing the location and functions of a wireless device or telephone set within the RO, AARO, and SVRE AARO office. These blueprints are provided to the telephone company technician.
Below you will find the Blueprint for an RO office with Centrex lines (system programming from the telephone company) a Blueprint for an RO Office with a PBX (Mitel telephone system or Norstar telephone system located within your office) an AARO office and a SVRE AARO office.
Note: Changes to the Blueprint cannot be made as this will create issues with the routing of the calls within your office.
Figure 2b Set-up of RO Office (Blended Equipment Blueprint)
Figure 2c Set-up of RO Office (PBX Equipment Requirement – if Centrex is not available)
Figure 2d Set-up of AARO Office
Figure 2e Set-up of SVRE AARO Location
EC provides the list of functionalities for each telecommunication device in the office.
All RO and AARO offices are given two toll-free numbers:
- one for revision and reception (one number is given to electors, whose calls are then routed via an automated menu to the revising agents or the receptionist); and
- one for the fax machine.
Typically, when the writ is issued, calls are routed to a standard message advising that the office is open but not set up to take calls. Electors are then provided with the Elections Canada toll-free number or directed to the EC website. We may by-pass this step altogether and route the Toll-Free directly to the Reception and Revision wireless devices.
Once the telephones are operational, the Telephony Support Group at EC will reroute calls to your office by linking them to the local numbers for revision, reception and the fax machine.
Please note that Reception and Revision lines should be manned at all times.
Wireless Telephones and Wireless Cellular Modems
EC supplies ROs with wireless devices for the duration of the electoral event. Refer to your Telephone Data Sheet and above Blueprint to identify where each wireless telephone has been assigned. These wireless devices will be sent to the returning officers home addresses before the event. You will have to arrange for local delivery to AARO offices or other required locations. Please note that the spare wireless device is a replacement device and is not activated. This wireless kit will include wireless telephones, headsets, belt clips, wireless cellular modem or modems, and one Ethernet cable per modem.
A high speed or DSL Internet connection will be installed in RO and AARO offices, where available. This may be coordinated at the same time as the telephone installation or in a separate installation order depending on the telephone company. The wireless cellular modem will then become a backup to the DSL service.
Telephone headsets are provided by EC for revising agents and receptionists for the wired telephones. Headsets and belt clips are also provided for the wireless devices. You may request additional headsets through the Telephony Support Group. These headsets must be returned to EC after the electoral event.
Wired Telephone Installation Process and Timeframes
When the writ is issued and the office is pre-approved, you must notify the Electoral Coordination Help Desk by telephone that you are ready to take possession of the office.
Once the location of the potential Returning Office has been confirmed, the EC Telephony Support Group will ask the telephone companies to provide a facility check for that location prior to the election time permitting. The telephone company will remotely verify if there are enough telephone lines available at that location. It is very important that you provide the complete address, floor and suite number of your location to avoid installation delays and facilitate this process.
EC makes arrangements with the telephone companies to have all the phone lines installed within 5 business days of the facility check. This time frame may be shorter or longer depending on the work required to install the telephone lines at your location.
If a location does not meet technical requirements, and EC determines the telephone companies cannot install the appropriate lines to meet technical requirements, you may be required to find another suitable office location.
If there are any difficulties with the telephone installation, contact the Telephony Support Group.
Number Listed with Directory Assistance
EC Public Enquiries Unit toll-free number (1-800-463-6868) is published by Directory Assistance. Certain calls are automatically transferred to the ROs, depending on the nature of the question.
2.1.14 Office Security
The office must be equipped with an alarm system connected to a central monitoring station. If a security system is already in place, you should request that it be activated if the landlord has not already done so. Fees for such activation and monitoring should be included as part of the rental fee. If the office does not have an alarm system, the template lease includes a clause to authorize ROs to install one for the duration of the lease. The alarm system should share the fax line if required.
Note: If no security system can be installed or activated, obtain a quote for the services of a security officer to guard the office when it is closed and contact the Electoral Coordination Help Desk for further consideration.
The premises used as the office should have a secure area during office hours. Certain documents, such as list of electors, completed nomination papers, ballot papers, tax credit receipts intended for candidates and official agents, etc., are protected documents and must be kept under secure control (i.e. in a locked filing cabinet when the office is closed).
Every reasonable precaution should therefore be taken to deter intrusion, within the context of what is available on the premises and what the landlord is willing to provide.
Rent at least two four-drawer filing cabinets that lock so that all revision documents and lists of electors can be safely stored at the end of each day.
All computer equipment should be kept away from windows and public areas. Ideally, they should be kept in a locked room. However, where this is not possible, rent portable room dividers to surround the areas where this equipment is set up. The rental cost of these dividers are covered by the office furniture and equipment budget.
The area where the supplies are stored should be secure, especially the area where the ballot papers are kept and the area set aside for special ballot voting. If the office consists of an open area, rent additional locking filing cabinets to ensure that sensitive materials are kept out of sight and in a secure location.
Shredding documents locally is not permitted. All documents must be returned to EC in Ottawa for shredding.
Before recycling, contact schools in the area to determine their needs for empty ballot boxes or voting compartments. Only used ballot boxes and used voting compartments can be recycled locally. All other materials must be returned to EC. If there are no recycling facilities in the ED, use a neighbouring ED.
Note: Authorization from the Electoral Coordination Help Desk is required, if any costs are involved in recycling locally. If materials are not being recycled, return them to Ottawa with the remainder of the election materials.
After the event, return all lots to Ottawa through Canada Post. Do not hire private transportation companies. A memorandum regarding the arrangements between EC and Canada Post is sent out during the electoral event.
2.1.15 Scents in the Workplace
You can post in the local office 21.4, Scents in the Workplace on Chapter 21 or make a photocopy and distribute it to your personnel during the electoral event.
Peanut and nut allergies can be particularly dangerous for some individuals by the smell alone. All staff in RO offices must refrain from bringing into the office any products made with or containing any peanuts or nuts.
A notice about peanut and nut allergies must be posted in a prominent place in the office. Food allergies are a very serious matter. It is important that the notice provided is displayed in full view of any visitors and staff.
In case someone has an allergic reaction, the emergency procedures are:
- Open the first-aid kit and put on the gloves.
- If the person has an EpiPen in his possession and if the patient is conscious, ask permission to administer the injection.
- If the person is unconscious, administer the injection immediately or ask someone to quickly administer the injection.
- Call 911 immediately.
- Stay beside the person until paramedics arrive.
2.1.17 Non-Smoking Policy
EC's non-smoking policy prohibits smoking in areas designated for voting, in your office or in any area where training is given or at any stage of the revision process where an election officer is in contact with the public.
This policy ensures an effective and smoke-free environment for the electorate or any person involved in the electoral process either as an election officer or in any other capacity such as a candidate's representative at the poll or an employee in the office. In many regions, municipal "no smoking" by-laws are in place. It is your responsibility to ensure that staff adheres to these by-laws.
At the polls, electors, election officers and candidates should politely be reminded, when necessary, that there is no smoking in polling locations.
E-Cigarettes and Other Electronic Smoking Products
At the time of publication, no electronic smoking products have been approved for use by Health Canada. Different levels of government are working on policies for these products, in particular their use in the workplace. Some municipalities have already enacted bans on the use of these products in the workplace and other public areas.
At this time Elections Canada policy is that:
"Based on the information currently available regarding the health and safety implications of these devices, the use of electronic smoking products within EC workplaces is not permitted."
This prohibition extends to returning offices, AARO offices, SVRE AARO offices, polling locations and other public and training areas.
Smoking Prohibited Signs
Smoking Prohibited Signs (EC 50230) are included in the supplies for CPSs and DROs, so that they may post them prominently in polling locations. Signs are also provided for use in the public and training areas of the office.
2.2 Automated Systems
The office uses the following computer systems:
- Event Results System (ERS);
- Returning Office Payment System (ROPS/LOCATIONS);
- Supply Management System by Intranet (SMSi);
- Targeted Revision Management Tool (TRMT); and
- ECDocs on the Field Personnel Intranet.
The office computers are also equipped with the following commercial office software:
- Adobe Acrobat Reader for reading PDF Documents;
- MS Word for word processing (letters and documents);
- MS Excel for accounting transactions; and MS Outlook for email.
- Internet Explorer to access the Internet and EC webmail.
The functionality of each automated system is covered in the manuals for the roles that use that system.
There are over 40 computer systems used at EC in Gatineau. Most do not interface with the work that occurs in your office. However, three systems require data supplied directly by you:
- List of Candidates System (LOC): Receives nominations from the RO's office and produces the official list of candidates (needed for SVR);
- Electronic Financial Return System (EFRS): Compiles election expense returns from the RO to reimburse candidates and political parties and produce the CEO's report on election expenses; and
- Event Results System-Headquarters (ERS-HQ): Compiles the results from all EDs to produce the CEO's report on poll-by-poll results.
2.3 Arrangements for Electoral Facilities
Although the terms are often used interchangeably, there is a distinction between polling location (or place) and polling station.
Polling location (or place) is the building in which one or more polling stations are set up. There is a polling station for every polling division. A deputy returning officer and a poll clerk are assigned to each polling station.
2.3.1 Accessibility of Electoral Facilities and the RO Office
"Accessibility" means that the electoral system must be open and barrier-free to all Canadians, that all efforts must be made to remove:
- Attitudinal barriers that occur between people (i.e. assuming that a person with a speech impediment has an intellectual disability);
- Intellectual barriers (i.e. not recognizing that disabilities are not easily discernible making some information hard for the elector to understand); and
- Physical barriers (i.e. features of buildings or spaces that cause problems for people with physical disabilities).
When looking for new locations, remember to select those that are already fully accessible for people with physical disabilities or locations that can be temporarily modified.
You are responsible for ensuring accessibility for all facilities used during the election. The Canada Elections Act requires polling locations and the offices that you and the revising agents use, provide level access.
The court order in the Hughes case requires that an additional 14 mandatory criteria be met for offices to be considered accessible.
To assist you in evaluating the accessibility of polling locations, EC has developed Accessibility Checklist (EC 12152).
Collecting Accessibility Data
ROs collect information for each potential polling location in the SITES application. This information includes accessibility data that reflects the mandatory requirements. The collection of accessibility data allows EC to maintain a database that includes a national inventory of potential offices and polling locations and their respective accessibility information.
The use of the polling location data is not limited to EC and RO offices. EC shares polling location accessibility information with internal and external groups. Community groups are invited to assist, so it is important that the collected information be complete and accurate.
Groups interested in the information are:
- Provincial and municipal election organizations;
- Field Readiness and Event Management, to monitor election readiness and prepare post-election reports;
- Public Enquiries, to respond to queries from the public such as "Where do I vote?";
- Members of Parliament and candidates;
- Electoral Financing, to conduct analyses on projected electoral event costs;
- The Geographic Information System (GIS), to integrate the polling locations into the geographical database, in order to make a more comprehensive mapping source; and
- The REVISE application, to produce Voter Information Cards.
An Accessibility Checklist (EC 12152) must be completed for every location utilized during an electoral event. The information from the checklist is read by REVISE to populate the accessibility statement on the voter information card and will be displayed for each polling location during the election on the Elections Canada website.
2.3.2 Selection of Polling Locations
In advance of the call of an electoral event, the CEO asks the ROs to select suitable locations to establish ordinary and advance polling stations. The address of these polling locations is printed on the VIC. The VIC will be printed nationally, and must be scheduled for printing in REVISE by Day 27 at the latest. The polling locations must be confirmed with each landlord at the beginning of the election and before scheduling and printing the VICs.
2.3.3 Arrangements for Polling Locations
In advance of an electoral event, select the locations for ordinary and advance polls. Confirm these locations once the electoral event is called. Where feasible, polls should be in a public building that is centrally-located in proximity to the electors.
All polling locations must meet or be temporarily modified to meet all mandatory criteria and, to the extent possible, all non-mandatory criteria for access both outside and inside the building.
Each polling station must be equipped with at least two tables and six chairs. Ideally, as stated in the Standard Lease Agreement (EC 11750) in section 8, landlords shall provide the number of tables and chairs and assume the cost associated with providing such tables and chairs. If this is not possible, you can make arrangements elsewhere and have them transported to the polling location. In such a case, section 8 of the Standard Lease Agreement (EC 11750) should be crossed out and initialed by you and the landlord. The table on which the voting screen is placed must be high enough to accommodate a wheelchair. The polling places must be clean, provide a source of potable water, be well lit, and, if applicable, heated.
The owner of the building is responsible for the insurance for the premises and for the liability insurance for electors using the polling station. EC provides its own tenant liability insurance to cover any property damage or personal injury which it (EC) has caused to occur.
Ensure that there is a telephone available for the election officers. ROs must have access to the telephone number of each polling location in order to reach the DRO and CPS.
While parking is not a mandatory accessibility criterion, it is preferable that the location provide parking. Where parking is available at least one parking space must be reserved for electors with a functional limitation. Identify the space by the international accessibility signs provided by EC (EC 50167).
Dimensions of a Polling Station
Figure 2f, Polling Station Dimensions illustrates an example of a polling station measuring 432 square feet. The example shows that two tables have been provided for candidates' representatives and provides a reasonable amount of space between the tables to accommodate people in wheelchairs.
Figure 2f Polling Station Dimensions
Note: There should be a distance of 3' between the tables and where the representatives are sitting to ensure that there is adequate space for wheelchair access.
Recording Polling Station Information
Each time a new location is selected, or the information on an existing location is changed, use the Accessibility Checklist (EC 12152) to note changes. From home, enter the changes directly into the iSITES Intranet application, which amends the EC corporate database. The new data is downloaded to the RO office's computers for the next electoral event.
Lease Agreement Form
Prepare a copy of the Standard Contract of Lease (EC 11750) available in the ROPS/SITES application, for each polling location as soon as possible after the issue of the writ.
Confirmations can be made by phone and the lease mailed immediately to the landlord, to be signed and returned to you. It is recommended however that the lease be delivered in person where distances are not a factor.
Letter of Confirmation
Send each landlord a Letter of Confirmation (EC 10017) along with the Standard Contract of Lease (EC 11750).
2.3.4 Modifications and Update of the List of Polling Locations
Potential alternative polling locations must be identified as not all polling locations will be available at the issue of the writ. ECHQ recommends that 10-15% of the number of locations required be identified as alternates. These locations are subject to the same accessibility criteria.
Adding New Locations
Visit the polling location and complete an Accessibility Checklist (EC 12152). The address indicated on the checklist and entered into locations is the address that will be printed on the VIC.
When the checklist is completed, modify the data in iSITES. The corrections will then be integrated into the national inventory.
2.3.5 Architectural Modifications of Polling Locations
When it is impossible to find an accessible polling location that meets all mandatory and to the extent possible, all non-mandatory criteria, the location may be temporarily modified. Elections Canada must approve all expenditures in writing prior to any temporary modification. The template RO lease will have to be modified as its default provisions call on landlords to make any improvements or repairs to the facility at their expense.
Process for using:
Where a polling location is not accessible but could be rendered accessible through temporary modifications, with the prior approval of the building owner, obtain an estimate from three contractors for the construction of a temporary modification and submit to the Electoral Coordination Help Desk for approval using the Proposal to Modify a Site form (EC 12170.1).
If it is determined that the building is not accessible because it does not meet the mandatory criteria but must be used as a polling place nonetheless, you must request permission from the Chief Electoral Officer to use a non-accessible location (which does not meet 1 or more of the 15 mandatory accessibility criteria). A request for approval of the CEO must be submitted to EC by using the Request to Use a Site Without Level Access form (EC 12160-1). If authorization is granted, you will receive notification by email.
Note: In remote areas, only one estimate is required.
When a bid is accepted, it is necessary for the contractor to discuss with the landlord or representative of the facility the exact modification required. This is necessary to avoid misunderstandings and to ensure that the landlord knows exactly what is being built or modified.
When a polling location requires only minor modifications (such as adding proper signage, ramps for the curb or a small ramp for a threshold), you should not take any action before the issue of the writ or until instructions to proceed are received from EC.
Authorizations for the modification of a location are completed in two stages:
- Complete the Proposal to Modify a Site form (EC 12170-1) to request authorization to proceed with the modifications. When the completed form is approved by the Accessibility Group proceed with the modifications.
- An internal authorization confirms the expenditure and a request is sent to Electoral Financing to issue a cheque after the required documentation is received at EC. A cheque is not issued without this internal authorization; therefore sending the documentation directly to Electoral Financing does not accelerate payment.
All payments are issued from EC. The following information is required to complete final payment arrangements:
- an original invoice detailing the work completed;
- a Special Account Form (EC 11670) to authorize the payment;
- a photograph of the completed ramp as proof of construction (provided by the contractor); and
- a copy of the completed Proposal to Modify a Site form (EC 12170-1).
Ensure that the following information is clearly identified in the documentation:
- the contractor's and company name;
- who is being paid, and the exact amount; and
- the exact amount EC is required to pay.
If there is a cost difference between the proposal and the final cost, provide a brief explanation accounting for the difference.
You may reproduce documents such as the Notice of Election (EC 10020),Notice of Advance Poll (EC 10140), Notice of Grant of a Poll (EC 10170) and Notice of Mobile Poll (EC 10160) with the office photocopier. Other items must be printed or reproduced by the local printing company, such as the various lists of electors (PLE, revised and official lists), the ballots, the List of Candidates in Large Print and the quick reference guides for DROs and poll clerks.
Several different lists of electors are reproduced during an electoral event. You submit the Reproduction Specifications for the Lists of Electors (EC 10750) to the printing company. The document identifies the appropriate colour of paper to use for each list.
2.4.1 Selection of Printing Company
When possible, choose a printing company within the ED. Contact the local printing company early and ensure they understand exactly what is required and that they have the technical capability and paper stock required to perform the work properly in the required time.
2.4.2 Printing Materials Provided
EC provides you with materials to assist printing companies. These materials include items such as: specimens, written specifications, special printing materials and instructions for the ballots. The specimens generally illustrate the font type, the quality of paper and the format to follow. In most cases, supply the printing company with a camera-ready copy for reproduction.
Provide the printing company with the following guidelines available in an electronic format in ECDocs:
- Instruction Manual for Ballot Paper Printer (EC 10720);
- Printing Specifications for the List of Candidates in Large Print (EC 10721);
- Reproduction Specifications for Lists of Electors (EC 10750);
- Printing Specifications for Ballot Papers (EC 10760); and
- Other materials associated with ballot printing supplied in Lot 17 including the Printing Specifications for Ballot Papers (EC 10760).
Ensure that the printing company understands all of the specifications.
Returning officers should ensure that the printing company understands that the fee provided in the Guidelines is the maximum that can be paid. Printers can be paid using either the acquisition card (you will need to reconcile when the statement arrives) or through an invoice from the printer sent to EC along with a special acquisition form.
2.5 Review of Lists from the National Register of Electors
Between elections, the National Register of Electors (NRoE) is maintained using a variety of administrative data sources.
Reviewing the lists of electors is an activity conducted at the CEO's request. You may be selected to complete this assignment if many addresses (over 1,000) in your electoral district are not assigned to a polling division. During this task, you can review, correct and improve the quality of NRoE addresses, ultimately used for lists of electors during federal general elections, by-elections and referenda.
Should this assignment need to be completed in your electoral district, you will be provided with the Returning Officer Address Review (ROAR) system, which was developed to make civic address and geocoding corrections to the lists.
2.6 Consultation with Political Parties
ROs consult with local representatives of each political party. This consultation is planned for the same time as the pre-event assignments. Political parties and current members of Parliament (MP) can then express themselves freely on suggestions and recommendations for improvements in anticipation of the next electoral event.
Plan, organize and hold a consultation with the political parties' local representatives and the MP (or representative) to discuss pre-event planning tasks. To assist you in working with these local representatives, EC contacts the national organizations of all the registered political parties to obtain a list of their local representatives across Canada.
Before calling representatives, understand the purpose of the consultation process, have a good understanding of the problems to be resolved and be able to briefly explain which aspects will be discussed.
Do not hesitate to suggest that the representatives consult their colleagues in the local riding association, organizers from the last electoral campaign, and so on, to emphasize how good preparation for this meeting is essential in reaching common objectives.
The ultimate goal is to hold only one meeting that all representatives can attend to generate substantial discussion and come up with solutions acceptable to everyone involved. Take care to ensure that the consultation process is transparent.
Before proceeding with the consultation, call the political parties' local representatives and the current MP (or representative) to determine their availability.
All communications with the political parties' local representatives must be recorded. Refer to Chapter 20, 20.4, Follow-up Report – Pre-writ Consultation with Political Parties.
Setting a Time
After calling all representatives, identify a time that suits most of them to ensure that the highest possible number of participants can attend.
Selecting a Location
Depending on the number of attendees, consider renting an appropriate location for this meeting. First, consider the least expensive alternatives, such as a community centre or a classroom.
If no low-cost alternatives are available within the community, consider other possibilities such as renting a meeting room in a hotel or any other solution deemed appropriate.
EC provides you with a budget to rent this space and a small budget to provide refreshments. Keep all receipts to justify these expenses.
Officially invite the participants identified on the list of local representatives received from EC. Send an invitation and detailed agenda to each representative, using Priority Courier. Refer to 20.2, Invitation Letter – Pre-writ Consultation with Political Parties (sample), and 20.3, Agenda – Pre-writ Consultation with Political Parties (sample) on Chapter 20. These samples, developed by EC, may be adapted to suit your needs.
Note: Retain the Priority Courier shipping receipt. Use the EC Priority Courier Customer Account Number (3068188).
In order to hold this meeting and ensure that it is productive at all levels, all attendees must come prepared. In principle, the local representatives of political parties should have made an effort to consult their respective organizations. You should have a good understanding of the assignments and the issues specific to the ED.
Keep a summary of the issues discussed during the meeting to keep a record of communications with the political parties' representatives. Take notes on the items discussed, arguments, objections and suggestions raised, and indicate who said what during the meeting. Immediately after the meeting, draft the meeting summary using Chapter 20, 20.5, Summary – Pre-writ Consultation with Political Parties and follow up on any items or issues raised.
If a second meeting with all the political parties' local representatives is necessary, ensure the summary of the first meeting is sent to the second group. The summary of the second meeting should be sent to the participants of the first meeting to ensure the process is transparent and that comments expressed in the meetings are shared with everyone.
All communications with the political parties' local representatives should be recorded. Refer to Chapter 20, 20.4, Follow-up Report – Pre-writ Consultation with Political Parties. This helps you with follow-ups, and allows EC to have a document available to answer any questions from the political parties regarding the efforts made to include them in the planning process for the next election.
Refer to Chapter 20, 20.3, Agenda – Pre-writ Consultation with Political Parties (sample). The sample agenda may be adapted to meet your requirements.
Sample Invitation Letter
Refer to Chapter 20, 20.2, Invitation Letter – Pre-writ Consultation with Political Parties (sample). When sending a letter inviting the current MP, tailor the letter accordingly. The sample may be adapted to suit your needs.
EC provides letterheads and envelopes to be used for preparing and sending the invitations.
After the meeting, complete and sign the summary in Chapter 20, 20.5, Summary – Pre-writ Consultation with Political Parties and send a copy to:
- Each of the participants; and
- EC, along with all other required documents.