Returning Officer's Manual
Part II – The Electoral Event
Part 2, The Electoral Event presents details of the activities and duties required during the period.
This part of the Returning Officer's Manual contains the following chapters:
- Chapter 7, The Event Begins
- Chapter 8, Electors and Lists of Electors
- Chapter 9, Candidates and Their Representatives
- Chapter 10, Polling Stations
- Chapter 11, Ballots
- Chapter 12, Special Voting Rules
- Chapter 13, Results
- Chapter 14, Post Event
- Chapter 15, Additional Assistant Returning Officer
- Chapter 16, By-elections
Chapter 7 – The Event Begins
This Chapter describes your responsibilities after the writ is issued.
- 7.1 The Writ
- 7.2 Notice of Election
- 7.3 Returning Officer's Calendar Checklist
- 7.4 Financial Activities
- 7.5 Opening the Office
- 7.6 Office Hours
- 7.7 Voter Information Card
- 7.8 Office Staff
- 7.9 Incident Handling in the RO Office
- 7.10 Training of Election Officers
- 7.11 Administering Oaths
- 7.12 Printing Arrangements
- 7.13 Support Network
- 7.14 Enforcement of the Canada Elections Act
- 7.15 Liaison with Political Parties and Candidates
7.1 The Writ
The writ is the legal document issued by the Chief Electoral Officer (CEO) instructing you, as the returning officer (RO), to hold an election in the electoral district (ED) to which you have been appointed.
The election period begins when the Governor in Council issues a proclamation that sets the date of the election and the date for the return of the writ to the CEO.
The sequence of issuing a writ and a proclamation for each ED is:
- The Governor in Council issues a proclamation for a general election to be held.
- The minimum election period is 36 days (the "electoral calendar"). There is no maximum period. (Day 36 is always a Sunday.)
- The signal to set the electoral event machinery in motion is a communication from the CEO by email, at the latest on a Sunday (Day 36 of the electoral calendar), advising you that the writ has been issued.
- Upon receipt of the email, you must acknowledge it as soon as possible using the online form in your public folders (Quality Control – Issue of the Writ), thus informing the CEO of your availability.
- The CEO then formally issues a writ for each ED in which the election is to be held using Form 1 (Writ of Election) of Schedule 1 of the Canada Elections Act (CEA).
- Upon receipt of the writ, you must sign, date and retain it in a safe place along with the Special Envelope for the Return of the Writ (EC 11510), and then return both to the CEO without delay after the 6th day following the completion of the validation of the results or immediately after a certificate of judicial recount has been issued, if any.
- You must confirm receipt of the writ for the ED using the online form in your public folders (Quality Control – Confirmation of Receipt of the Writ).
- Without delay after the 6th day following completion of the validation or immediately after a certificate of judicial recount has been issued, you must complete the return of the writ and send it in the Special Envelope for the Return of the Writ (EC 11510) to the CEO, displaying the name of the elected candidate on the back of the writ or indicating that the election resulted in a tie.
7.2 Notice of Election
You must issue a Notice of Election (EC 10020) to notify the public of important election information within four days of the issue of the writ. You will receive the Notice of Election by email after the writ is issued.
The following information must appear on the Notice of Election (EC 10020):
- name of the ED
- deadline for the receipt of nominations
- date set for election day
- date, time and place for the validation of results (no later than six days after election day but as soon as possible after the ballot boxes are returned)
- address of the RO Office
- date of issue
- your signature
Insert the above information on the Notice of Election e-form in both French and English. Translation services are available from Elections Canada (EC). Fax or email a copy of the English text to EC. Upon receipt, EC will specify a time frame within which the corresponding French text will be returned.
In all provinces except Quebec, the English text must appear to the left of the French text. In Quebec, the French text appears to the left of the English text. The French text must include accents.
7.2.2 Verification and Distribution
Before photocopying and distributing the Notice of Election (EC 10020), send a copy to EC for verification using the online form in your public folders (Quality Control – Uploads, 01 – Notice of Election). Once approved by EC, photocopy the Notice of Election on white bond paper 8½" by 11". Send one signed copy to EC by fax, post one copy in the RO Office and send one copy to every registered political party.
7.3 Returning Officer's Calendar Checklist
The Returning Officer's Calendar Checklist is a valuable tool as it reflects the deadlines and activities shown on the Returning Officer's Aide-mémoire. Refer to the 18.1, Returning Officer's Calendar Checklist in Chapter 18.
In large EDs, you must review the checklist and aide-mémoire before the event begins to determine if modifications to administrative deadlines are necessary due to the ED's geographical constraints (e.g. when training of poll officials begins or when materials sent to remote areas require assembly).
Similarly, in heavily populated EDs, assembly of materials and training of poll officials may have to begin sooner due to the volume of training sessions.
The Returning Officer's Calendar Checklist may repeat the same item several times until the deadline. Also, additional items have been added to the checklist to serve as reminders and are not necessarily shown on the Returning Officer's Aide-mémoire.
7.4 Financial Activities
With the call of an electoral event, you are responsible for making and managing payments to various election officers, landlords and suppliers in the ED. There are various methods of payment, each with their own set of policies and procedures that you must abide by. The electoral calendar is filled with deadlines and it is your duty to ensure each one is met. The following section provides an overview of the various financial processes related to the conduct of an electoral event and outlines your responsibilities.
7.4.1 Financial Officers
The financial officer is your resource person for financial matters and should have a financial background, including payroll experience, and strong computer skills to manage the ROPS/SITES application.
Refer to 5.19, Financial Officer, for the job description and statement of qualifications for the position of financial officer.
The financial officer's primary responsibilities are:
- coordinating the creation or update of all election officers' profiles
- updating the electoral facilities' database using ROPS/SITES, as delegated by you
- preparing the payroll for office staff (see 19.1, Selection and Appointment of Election Workers)
- producing the Appointment of Oath for all election officers
- reconciling the accountable advance for petty cash
- reconciling the acquisition cards
- capturing and verifying hours worked
- preparing payments for election day officers and landlords
- preparing all supplier claims and logs for your signature
- providing the status of payments for all election officers
- producing the Standard Contract of Lease (EC 11750), available in ROPS/SITES, for all landlords, etc.
To assist in time management during an event, the financial officer is given an aide-mémoire of tasks to perform as well as upcoming deadlines. It is your responsibility to closely monitor the financial officer's activities to ensure there are enough budgeted hours to cover the time required to complete all tasks.
7.4.2 Returning Office Payment System and SITES Application
Workstations in the office are equipped with ROPS/SITES. The application runs on a personal computer connected to a central database and may be accessed simultaneously by multiple users. ROPS/SITES facilitates the creation of worker and landlord profiles and the processing of payments to election officials and landlords. It has an extensive reporting feature that allows you to track, in particular:
- budgeted and actual hours worked
- attendance of election officials at training sessions
- vacant positions
- usage of the accountable advance for petty cash
- usage of the acquisition cards
- assignments to polling stations and sites
- lists of election officers and sites
Use the application to produce various statutory reports and notices such as:
- List of Officers (e.g. deputy returning officers (DROs) and poll clerks for advance and ordinary polls, revising agents (RAs)
- Notice of Advance Poll (EC 10140)
- Notice of Mobile Poll (EC 10160)
- List of Polling Sites
User Identification and Password
To access ROPS/SITES, you will require a user identification (ID) and password. At the start of the event, EC will advise you of your ROPS/SITES user ID and password.
You must decide which person will have access to the application.
There are two ways of accessing ROPS/SITES:
- using the SITES user ID and password
- using the FINANCE user ID and password
The SITES user ID and password grants access only to the Landlord module, which contains the electoral facilities' database. All financial functionalities within this module are disabled. This user ID and password can be given to the person delegated to the task of updating information on the electoral facilities.
The FINANCE user ID and password grants access to all functionalities within ROPS/SITES, without any restrictions. The use of this user ID and password should be restricted and protected since it gives access to private information.
7.4.3 Rental of the RO Office and AARO Office
You are responsible for selecting an office in the ED and, if required, for selecting an office for the AARO. You also assume the responsibility for making the lease arrangements with the landlord(s).
Processing the Lease for the RO Office and AARO Office
You must select the appropriate office space, obtain pre-approval by the RO Logistics unit and, immediately after the issue of the writ, process the lease(s) as follows:
- print and complete the Lease for Returning Officer's Office (EC 10015) for the RO Office and, if applicable, the AARO Office
- obtain the landlord's signature on the lease
- sign the lease
- copy the lease(s) to keep on file
- submit the completed, signed lease to Field Finance at EC by fax or email and the original copy by mail
Please note that only the returning officer can sign the lease(s).
Payments for the Rental of the RO Office and AARO Office
Once an election is called, and upon EC approval of the lease and lease arrangements, the landlord is paid directly by EC in two payments: half within 10 days of receipt of the signed lease and the remaining half two days after the end of the leasing period.
Note: The rental fee for the RO Office and the AARO Office is not entered into ROPS/SITES. It is paid directly by EC.
7.4.4 Landlords, Sites and Polling Stations (Leases and Payments)
You are responsible for the selection of suitable polling sites that contain polling stations for advance, mobile and ordinary polls, and registration desks. You may be required to find space for revisal offices.
When initialized, ROPS/SITES contains existing information for landlords based on the data collected using the SITES Web application. The financial officer or other delegated person may update this information or add a new landlord and/or polling site, as directed by you. The landlord information must be complete before election officials are assigned to a polling site or station.
Lease for Polling Sites
When selecting the polling sites for the purpose of establishing polling stations and registration desks, you make financial arrangements with the landlord or owner. The landlord provides the tables and chairs necessary for the polling stations, registration desks and assumes the costs of providing them. After verifying that the landlord, site and polling station information is accurate, print the Standard Contract of Lease (EC 11750), available in ROPS/SITES. The landlord is paid a set fee per polling station according to the 42nd General Election CEO's Directive on Field Acquired Goods and Services.
Once the site is verbally confirmed, send two copies of the lease to the landlord for signature. A signed lease ensures the premises are secured for election day. After the landlord has signed and returned the two original copies of the lease, you sign both copies, provide one original to the landlord and retain the second original.
At the end of the election period, the copy of the signed original lease you retained must be returned to Field Finance.
Payment for the Lease of Polling Sites
Payment for the lease of polling sites is completed using ROPS/SITES. ROPS/SITES selects payments only for those landlords who have election officials assigned to voting facilities and polling stations. Landlords receive a one-time payment 30 days after the date of rental for the amount agreed to and appearing on the Standard Contract of Lease (EC 11750), available in ROPS/SITES.
Should it be necessary to override the set fee for an increased amount, you must receive prior approval from the Accessibility and Outreach Unit at EC before agreeing to the increase.
7.4.5 Purchasing and Renting Goods and Services
Goods and services, such as those listed in Table 7a, Expenditures for Goods and Services, may be purchased or rented for an electoral event once an election is called. You are responsible for all expenditures and must verify that they are correct and complete before signing for them. EC prefers the EC Acquisition Card as the purchase method.
EC Acquisition Card
for Petty Cash
Direct Payment by EC
Special Account Form
|Rental of RO/AARO Office (including security)||X||
Send lease to EC
|Rental of furniture and office equipment||X*||X|
|Rental of training space||X*||X< $200||X|
|Rental of polling sites/revival offices||X||Mandatory|
|Purchase of Goods & Services|
|Office supplies||X*||X< $200||X|
|Shipping and courier services||X*||X|
|Security guard (company)||X*||X< $200||X|
|Security guard (individual)||X||Mandatory|
|Cleaning services (company)||X*||X< $200|
|Cleaning services (individual)||X||Mandatory|
|Printing of ballot papers, lists of electors, List of Candidates in Large Print and quick reference guides||X*|
|Authorized use of cellular phones by poll officials|
* EC prefers the EC Acquisition Card as the purchase method.
7.4.6 Accountable Advance
At the start of the event, you will receive a cheque for the petty cash accountable advance for use during the event. To treat this advance, use the Checklist – Advance Justification for Petty Cash. The accountable advance for temporary support staff was previously provided to compensate groups for affixing labels on the Voter Information Cards (VICs). Addresses are now printed directly on the VIC and therefore no longer require the affixing of labels.
Petty Cash Expenditure
The petty cash advance from EC is used for expenses greater than $2 and less than $200 each, such as:
- office supplies, postage or courier services, rental of meeting rooms, parking other than that included in your rental fee as per Lease for Returning Officer's Office (EC 10015), the RO Office and, if applicable, the AARO Office
- allowable kilometre expenses that cannot be recorded in ROPS/SITES
This petty cash advance cannot be used to pay the salaries for the RO office staff. Expenses less than $2 should be combined before seeking reimbursement from petty cash.
7.4.7 Direct Payment of Expenses by Elections Canada During an Event
Certain expenses such as telephone bills are sent to EC by the supplier and paid directly by EC. Sometimes expenses cannot be paid for using either the EC Acquisition Card or petty cash. In this situation, a Special Account Form (EC 11670) must be completed, signed by you and submitted for payment to Field Finance at EC along with the original invoice or receipt.
To process these payments, use the 18.7, Election Night Checklist (RO Office) in Chapter 18.
7.4.8 Managing the Event Budget
You are responsible for managing a budget of hours for election officers and budgets for office furniture and equipment rental.
ROPS/SITES contains a budget module that tracks the budgeted and actual hours used for most office staff positions. You may use ROPS/SITES to transfer hours between designated positions and request additional hours for some positions.
Once ROPS/SITES is operational in the office, the event budget is sent electronically from EC and loaded into the budget module. Each time hours are entered against a position in ROPS/SITES, the remaining budget decreases accordingly and the actual hours used increase.
At any time during the event, reports may be produced displaying the original budgeted hours versus the actual hours worked, as well as any transfers or approvals for additional funds. It is strongly suggested that you monitor this budget closely by having the financial officer print the budget reports on a regular basis. Should you require additional funds for a position, it is important that the request be made before the budget is completely used.
7.4.9 Payment of Staff in the RO Office
RO office staff is paid bi-weekly during the event. Pay period end dates for office staff are fixed on Day 23, Day 9, and Day -5 of the event. Hourly rates are determined by the position worked in accordance with the Federal Elections Fees Tariff.
All personal information required for payments to RO office staff (except ROs and assistant returning officers (AROs)) must be recorded in ROPS/SITES even if RO office staff has been registered and paid for work completed during pre-event activities. Valid social insurance numbers are mandatory to process payments. The financial officer enters or updates the information, assigns each worker to their position as per your instructions, and enters the direct deposit banking information and source deduction data. After the worker profile is entered and verified in ROPS/SITES, the financial officer must produce and hand out an Appointment and Oath (for office staff) (EC 10135) to each office staff worker before they commence work.
The financial officer records the hours worked by each staff member on a regular basis (at least weekly). At the end of each two-week pay period, the Payment Authorization Report (available in ROPS/SITES) is produced, verified by the financial officer, signed by you and faxed to Field Finance at EC at the same time as the electronic file is transmitted.
Note: EC must have the electronic file and scanned/faxed copy of the printed, signed summary to process the payroll.
Every member of the RO Office staff is subject to the applicable source deductions, which commence on the first hour worked. Each worker can meet with the financial officer if they are entitled to an exemption from contributions to the Canada Pension Plan (CPP) or entitled to additional provincial and federal income tax credits.
Federal and provincial income tax deductions are calculated based on a "single" status. If the worker is entitled to additional tax credits, the appropriate tax credit forms must be completed.
If a worker is exempt from CPP contributions, you must obtain proof of the exemption for the contribution not to apply to the worker (i.e. office staff member, office staff worker or staff member). Persons receiving Québec Pension Plan (QPP) benefits continue to pay premiums whenever they are employed. For more information, refer to 6.2.2, Source Deductions in Chapter 6.
You must keep any pay-related documents in the personnel files following the event. EC will inform you when the documents are to be sent to EC Headquarters (HQ).
|Election Worker||Group||Source Deduction|
|Office staff (including RAs)
Works 35 hours or more
Works less than 35 hours
7.4.10 Payment of Election Officers at Advance Polls and on Election Day
Advance poll and election day workers are paid after the event, after you have verified the Payment Authorization Report (available in ROPS/SITES), signed the summary and transmitted it with the electronic payment file to Field Finance at EC. All poll officials must be recorded in ROPS/SITES and assigned to a polling site or station before payment can be processed. The financial officer prints out for each worker an Appointment and Oath form, which the training officer distributes for signature at each training session.
Direct deposit is available to all poll officials. They should be informed of this option when the recruitment staff first contacts them to schedule a training session. The training officer collects the cheque specimens and attaches them to each worker's Appointment and Oath form. The financial officer then enters the banking information into ROPS/SITES.
Poll officials are not subject to source deductions because they work 35 hours or less during the election period. As a result, they are not eligible for a Record of Employment for employment insurance purposes.
7.4.11 Year-End Reporting
Year-end information slips (T4s) are produced for each worker who earns $500 or more in a calendar year or is subject to source deductions. Normally all office staff workers receive a T4 after the end of the calendar year because they are all subject to source deductions, which commence on the first hour worked. Relevé 1s (Quebec only) are produced based on the entire income earned by a worker (i.e. staff member, office staff member or worker) employed in Quebec. T4s and Relevé 1s are mailed to the worker's home address.
7.4.12 Payment for Training Sessions and Other Expenses
Some office staff workers, such as RAs, and all poll officials receive a training fee to attend a training session before they commence their duties. Other office staff workers are trained on the job, thus eliminating the requirement for a training session. Refer to the Federal Elections Fees Tariff to determine which positions are entitled to a training fee.
Compensation for the first 35 kilometres of travel to and from a training session is included in the training fee. Reimbursement of distance over 35 kilometres is paid from ROPS/SITES. Refer to the ROPS/SITES User Manual.
Depending on the position assigned, office staff workers are reimbursed for service kilometres incurred. Refer to 19.1, Selection and Appointment of Election Workers, and the ROPS/SITES User Manual to determine eligibility for this reimbursement.
7.4.13 Finance Support Desk
The Elections Canada Support Network (ECSN) Finance Help Desk is always available to assist you with questions concerning financial transactions.
7.4.14 Reconciling Landlord and Election Officer Accounts
You must finalize and transmit to Field Finance at EC all landlord and election worker accounts immediately after election day and no later than Day -4. The financial officer ensures all election officers and landlords entitled to payment are entered into ROPS/SITES with the correct payment information. To ensure accuracy, you and the financial officer must verify the information before signing the Payment Authorization Report (available in ROPS/SITES) and transmitting it to Field Finance.
Pay period 3 for office staff ends on Day -5 at which time all final hours worked by office staff workers must be entered into ROPS/SITES and transmitted to EC.
7.4.15 Reconciling Accountable Advance
The accountable advance for petty cash provided to you at the start of the event must be reconciled within 10 days after election day. Use the 18.3, Accountable Advance for Petty Cash Checklist in Chapter 18. If a balance remains in the accountable advance, enclose a cheque in that amount, payable to the Receiver General for Canada. If money is owed to you from either advance, it will be forwarded upon reconciliation of the advance.
7.4.16 Decommissioning ROPS/SITES
After all election day and landlord accounts and office staff hours are finalized and transmitted to EC, decommission ROPS/SITES so the computer equipment can be removed from the RO Office. The financial officer must ensure that no payments remain outstanding in ROPS/SITES and that all data has been saved to a Microsoft Excel spreadsheet for future reference. Refer to System Deactivation in the ROPS/SITES User Manual for instructions on this decommissioning process.
7.4.17 Outstanding Payments to Election Officers
Should there be outstanding payments to an election officer after ROPS/SITES is decommissioned, they must be forwarded to Field Finance at EC for payment. To request payment, submit a Time Sheet for the Election Worker (EC 11655) or a Special Account Form (EC 11670), signed by you, authorizing payment.
7.4.18 Payment Inquiry Support – Ottawa
Field Finance operates a toll-free Payment Inquiry Line (1-800-823-8344) for all election officers, office staff and landlords after the RO Office is closed. Give this telephone number to the election officers during their training sessions.
7.5 Opening the Office
The RO Office should be fully operational within 48 to 72 hours after the issue of the writ. For a fixed election date, the office may be opened earlier.
7.5.1 Office Accommodations
The RO Office must be neat, efficient and easily accessible to enhance the image of the electoral process and provide the service the public is entitled to receive.
Arrange to sign the lease with the landlord. All terms and rates for office rental must be pre-approved by telephone or fax by EC before an agreement is signed. Obtain this approval as part of the pre-writ assignments.
Note: Local EC offices must meet the 15 mandatory accessibility criteria, unless otherwise authorized by the CEO.
7.5.2 Insurance Coverage
EC has implemented a comprehensive tenant insurance for all leased sites (e.g. RO offices, AARO offices and polling sites). The lease template will contain a clause providing the exact type of insurance obtained. The clause will provide that the landlord may request a copy of the insurance certificate relating to the leased premises.
Landlords may also request to be added as an additional insured under EC's insurance policy. To facilitate this endorsement in the insurance coverage, EC will provide you with a template form entitled Request to be Added as an Additional Insured, which you must fill out in conjunction with the landlord and send to EC.
Should a mishap (e.g. theft, vandalism) 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 you, election officers or 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 you. Complete the Returning Officer's Accident Report (EC 10014), found under Election Materials in EC Docs, and fax it to the Electoral Coordination Help Desk.
EC is committed to making sure that you are aware of security risks during an election and that you take the appropriate steps to minimize and manage risk in accordance with the Government of Canada's Policy on Government security and the Privacy Act.
Security assessments have revealed that ROs are vulnerable to specific threats that are grouped into four areas of concern:
- physical security
- computer security
- staff security
- use and storage of sensitive information
This section provides an overview of the security measures that you must take and outlines security and emergency procedures. The Security Guard Checklist in Chapter 18 must be completed during the election.
Role and Responsibilities of the RO
You have the overall responsibility of implementing the Policy on Government Security and related procedures, including the risk and threat assessment.
Working under you, the ARO acts as the safety and security officer. The ARO is responsible for providing security training to your staff and carrying out emergency plans. The ARO, or office coordinator if so delegated, will maintain a key register for you. The register will record the key tag number, the name and signature of the person receiving the key, the date of issue, the date of return and the responsible person's initials when the key is returned. In the AARO Office, these duties are carried out by the AARO.
Working under the ARO, the automation coordinator (AC) is responsible for supervising information technology security procedures. The AC must ensure that computer systems in the RO Office conform to security standards and staff with access to applications has a thorough knowledge of security procedures.
When establishing the RO Office, ensure that the following can be locked, if possible:
- the RO Office
- the AARO Office
- a room for the LAN server and AC workstation
- separate room for storing sensitive information in security cabinets
Place the computer equipment away from windows and public areas. If this is not possible, rent movable partitions and position them around the computer equipment.
When not in use, secure documents containing personal information in a locked cabinet. When a document is removed from the cabinet, keep it out of public view (e.g. turn it over or put it in a drawer) and away from office traffic areas. Petty cash should also be locked up.
The office must be equipped with an alarm system connected to a central monitoring office. 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 you to install one for the duration of the lease.
Note: If no security system can be installed or activated, you must obtain the services of a security officer to guard the office when it is closed, and notify EC that a security guard is being hired.
If you determine that a security guard is required while the office is open during the electoral period, a request justifying this need must be submitted in writing.
You should do the following:
- Follow established security measures and daily security checklists to ensure the location's physical integrity. Security officers working on election day must be given the Security Guard Checklist in Chapter 18. Adjust the checklist to meet the specific security needs of the RO Office.
- Provide limited access to items during working hours and secure their storage after office hours. If a vault is not available, use locked cabinets.
- Lock cables for computer equipment are provided for the two personal computers that have the Elector Search Utility and the REVISE server installed on them. These cables must always be installed.
- Never shred documents on site. Place in specially marked boxes, stored in a secure location, and return to EC for shredding after the election.
Computer security includes the confidentiality of information stored, processed or sent electronically and information, system and service availability.
The AC must ensure that RO Office computer systems comply with security standards and that all staff with access to applications thoroughly understands security procedures. The AC should also ensure that all staff security procedures presented in the following section are followed.
You should do the following:
- Install the local network in a secure room (that can be locked). If the office site poses a high security risk, additional security measures such as a motion detector must be used, or a night security guard must be hired.
- Ensure that daily backups are stored off site, are not left unattended at any time during transport, are not left in vehicles overnight, do not bear any ID markings, etc. (See detailed backup procedures in the Information Technology Support Guide for ACs.)
- Notify the ECSN of any viruses detected in order to alert the system and obtain help in getting the system working again.
Election Results System (ERS) crash: In case there is a crash of the ERS on Day 0, emergency tallies should be used and reports completed manually for submitting preliminary results to EC. In these circumstances, you must have a printed copy of the Detail of the Vote report ready to be used for a manual count, with the results provided to EC by telephone or fax in batches of 10 polling stations.
The AC must periodically conduct on-site inspections to detect unauthorized modems. The AC must also inform RO office staff of the EC policy on the use of unauthorized external software on the local RO network.
Office staff members, election officers and candidates' representatives must wear appropriate ID cards at all times. This security measure makes them more visible and allows electors to easily identify them. ID cards allow you to better identify potential threats to election officers and the public.
The office receptionist will maintain a visitor register that contains information of every person visiting the RO Office. The register will record the first and last name and signature of the visitor, the name of the contact person, time in and time out, and receptionist's initials. Please note that electors coming in to vote in the RO/AARO office do not have to complete the visitor register.
Instruct staff to restrict access to the various office areas to authorized individuals only. Visitors must wait in the reception area until they are accompanied to the appropriate area.
You must also hire a security guard for your office who will be on duty on election day from the time the office opens until the end of the evening's activities. As well, if it is necessary to close the RO Office, the security guard should remain on duty until further instructions are given. The guard must take an oath before you, the DRO or the AARO by means of the Appointment and Oath (for office staff) (EC 10135).
You should do the following:
- Draw up a list of key staff and replacements.
- Place Restricted Area signs in the office where necessary.
Use and Storage of Sensitive Information
During an election, you must protect the following items by storing them in security cabinets when left unattended. The items below are considered to be personal information:
- personal elector information contained in various forms in paper format
- electronic and hard copy versions of electoral lists
- blank ballot paper
- completed ballots (voting secrecy)
- ballot boxes
- tax receipts
Place computer equipment in areas of the office that will prevent them from being seen by unauthorized individuals. Send documents containing sensitive information to Ottawa for shredding. Do not shred documents locally. Place documents for shredding in specially marked boxes and store in a locked area.
General Security Measures
You must take the following measures:
- Keep an up-to-date list of alternative sites in case of a required move or evacuation.
- Call the local police for a security inspection of the site. They may provide valuable advice on how to avoid break and enters.
- Call the local fire department and ask for an office inspection and for advice on significant problem areas. They will inform you and your staff of the best evacuation plan to follow in case of a fire alarm or bomb threat.
- Draw up a list of regional generator suppliers. If this type of equipment is required, please call EC for approval. (This option should be considered only if there are concerns about the reliability of the electricity supply.)
- Draw up a list of emergency suppliers, public services and telephone numbers to be kept in a visible and accessible location.
- If drinking water is not available, obtain a supply of bottled water and rent a water cooler. Approval must first be obtained from EC.
The CEO has issued confidentiality instructions that are included in all election officers' manuals. Instructions are also provided to registered political parties and candidates.
The CEA is specific when it comes to the use of personal information during and between elections. Ensure that the confidentiality instructions are strictly adhered to. The confidentiality instructions include rules prohibiting federal parties from sharing information from their electoral lists with their provincial counterparts as well as the specific purposes for which candidates may use the lists.
EC urges you to stress the importance of these instructions to the office staff and election officers during training sessions.
You will receive a Notice to Employees that you must distribute to all staff members who do not have an instruction manual. You must also post the Notice to Employees in their offices so that everyone is aware of the importance of privacy and confidentiality.
Provide all local political party associations with the office address and toll-free telephone numbers. EC also publishes the toll-free telephone number on the EC website.
7.5.5 Furniture and Equipment
Finalize the rental order for furniture and equipment as planned during the pre-writ period and contact suppliers to make arrangements for delivery.
For more information, refer to Chapter 2, 2.1.11, Office Furniture and Equipment.
Assign the responsibility of maintaining and controlling election materials and supplies to a full-time staff member (the inventory/shipping clerk is recommended). Ensure that the assigned member establishes appropriate systems/mechanisms to determine when there is a shortage of supplies during the event. To help this person carry out these duties and responsibilities, you are responsible for printing and distributing the Inventory/Shipping Clerk's Manual (EC 10475), which is available in your electoral district sub-directory in the Public Folders.
Once the office is established, move the supplies and set up a storage area using metal shelving or bookcases. Whenever possible, the storage area should be private and secure. If small signs and labels are affixed to the racks and shelves, supplies could be arranged in an orderly and visible fashion. Remove all supplies (other than kits for election officers) from the boxes received from EC, as several different items may be inserted in the same box.
Some supplies such as forms in the 10,000 series and material for candidates in the 20,000 series are stored in your private office.
Supplies are sent by EC in distinct lots. The various lot numbers are identified on the shipments, and the contents of each lot are listed on the RO List of Material in the Public Folders or on the Supply Management System by Intranet (SMSi). Refer to Chapter 2, Supply Management System by Intranet (SMSi).
A copy of the lists of lot contents is also used as a packing slip. Canada Post delivers the monotainers to the office door. Plan on having staff to empty them. Remember to keep the monotainer covers for returning the material. Refer to the procedures for receiving monotainers from Canada Post.
Note: When received, check supplies and notify EC by telephone, fax or email if any items are missing.
Note: During the electoral calendar, order more supplies through SMSi, if necessary. To order supplies, please refer to Chapter 2, 2.2, Automated Systems.
Quantities of certain supplies depend on the number of candidates (e.g. Ballot Papers and Nomination Papers) and are usually provided for an average of six candidates. In some cases, quantities are based on the number of candidates in the ED during the last election. Therefore, if more candidates are running in the ED, notify EC, especially for the ballot paper.
Necessary office supplies must also be purchased. Use the EC Acquisition Card for these purchases wherever possible.
You are provided with envelopes and stationery with EC letterhead.
If electors or election officers require notification of a particular matter (such as a change in the location of a polling station), this information may be printed on postcards.
7.5.8 First Aid Kit
A first aid kit is provided for the RO Office. Become familiar with the kit's contents before placing it in a location accessible to all personnel. Please post the sign included in the kit to indicate the location. Only use the first aid kit in emergencies and restock it after each use. At the end of the electoral event, return the kit to EC.
7.5.9 Posting of Signs
During the electoral event, post the exterior signs (made from waterproof material) provided by EC prior to the issue of the writ in Lot 2 (EC 10980 and EC 10990). Ensure the signs are prominently displayed. You will also receive an indoor poster to display office hours (EC 10970). Fill in the prescribed office hours and post it in a conspicuous public place.
7.5.10 Confirmation of Poll Locations
When the electoral event is called, notify the contact person for each polling station location as soon as possible to obtain verbal confirmation that the site is still available. Ensure all polling stations are accessible.
Ensure all terms of the Standard Contract of Lease (EC 11750) are clearly understood by the landlord such as:
- number of polling stations
- number of tables and chairs required
- unhindered and priority access to a telephone
- space for registration desks at the appropriate polling places
- rate for the rental of polling stations (indicated in the Federal Elections Fees Tariff)
Note: The election day rental rate is set based on the number of polling stations established at a polling place. You should attempt to negotiate the best possible rental rate for each location.
When all these details are finalized, enter them in ROPS/SITES and assign workers to those polling stations and registration desks. Print the Standard Contract of Lease (EC 11750), available in ROPS/SITES, detailing the polling station information and costs. Keep a photocopy of the completed form for your records and deliver the original to the landlord, preferably by hand. Attach a cover letter to the lease, reiterating certain lease conditions, such as number of tables and chairs required, and contact names. Avoid future difficulties by assigning a staff member to follow up on these letters to ensure you receive a signed copy of the lease from the landlord as soon as possible.
7.5.11 Receipt of the Official Budget
During the first week of the electoral calendar, the RO will receive an official, approved budget for the electoral district. You must use this budget according to the CEA, the directives of the CEO and the Tariff of Fees – Federal Elections.
7.6 Office Hours
Unless otherwise specified, references to time in the CEA (and in this manual) refer to "local time". Hours of the day stated on event notices must be expressed in local time.
The notices on which hours of the day must be stated are:
- Notice of Election (EC 10020)
- Notice of Grant of a Poll (EC 10170)
- Notice of Advance Poll (EC 10140)
- Notice of Mobile Poll (EC 10160)
- Voter Information Cards
The minimum office hours prescribed by the CEO are:
- Monday to Friday from 9:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m.
- Saturdays from 9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.
- Sundays from 12:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m.
The extended hours for peak periods are:
- Saturday (Day 9 – 2nd day of advance polls) from 9:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m.
- Sunday (Day 8 – 3rd day of advance polls) from 9:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m.
- Sunday (Day 1 – the eve of election day) from 9:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m.
It is compulsory for either you or the ARO to be present in the office each day that the office is open until Day 0, except for the following Sundays: Days 29, 22 and 15. On these days, you may delegate your authority to the special ballot coordinator (SBC) by completing the Delegation of Authority (EC 10090). The CEA specifically requires both the RO and ARO to be in attendance at the RO Office from 12:00 noon until 2:00 p.m. on the closing day for nominations (Day 21).
You must be present for at least eight hours per day, Monday to Friday, to handle daily business such as planning, dealing with financial considerations and serving the public, political parties and candidates. You must also be in the office on Saturdays or accessible by cell phone and able to return to the office quickly. In your absence, the ARO must be present at the office. Whenever possible, do not hesitate to delegate and share any of these responsibilities with the ARO. You will be advised if your presence is required for an extended period of time based on electoral calendar activities.
Respect the above-mentioned office hours since they are announced to the national media, and the telephone system is programmed based on these hours. The same service must be made available in all EDs.
For more information on voting day hours, refer to 10.4, Ordinary Polls.
7.7 Voter Information Card
7.7.1 Voter Information Card
The VIC is mailed:
- between Day 26 and Day 24, to every elector whose name appears on the preliminary list of electors (PLE)
- as soon as possible during the revision period, but no later than Day 5 of the electoral calendar, to every elector whose name has been added to the PLE during the revision period (except electors voting under special voting rules (SVR)) as well as any elector whose information has been revised since the issuance of the PLE
The front of the VIC displays instructions to the elector, and the mailing address of the elector.
Although the VIC is a useful tool that informs electors where to vote and how to access their polling station quickly, it is not a proof of identity. Nonetheless, there is a belief that VICs can be recovered and used to vote illegally in lieu of the person whose name appears on the card.
To this effect, and since the 2004 General Election, the following warning has been added to the front of the VIC, to notify any person who would recover such a card, that it is not an identification document: "This card cannot be used as proof of identity or address."
The back of the VIC displays the following information related to voting:
- ED name
- polling station number of the ordinary poll
- address and/or location of the ordinary poll
- accessibility information for the ordinary poll
- date of election day
- for the ordinary poll, the hours that the poll will be open (refer to s.128 of the CEA); for a mobile poll, these hours vary for each institution
- advance poll number
- hours, address and/or location of the advance poll
- accessibility information for the advance poll
- dates of the advance poll
- deadline to apply for a special ballot (Day 6 of the electoral calendar at 6:00 p.m.); the special ballot is described as "other ways to vote" on the VIC
- deadline to ask for an interpreter
- address and phone number of the RO Office
7.7.2 Preparing the Voter Information Card for Printing
New Centralized Voter Information Card Printing Process
For the 42nd General Election, printing and mailing of the VIC will be centralized and the responsibility of ECHQ. The RO Office, however, still plays a critical role in reviewing and scheduling VICs to be printed. These responsibilities are shared between you and the AC.
You are responsible for:
- contacting the Canada Post representative and confirming undelivered VICs will be sent to the responsible office (RO or ARO)
- confirming the availability of polling sites and signing leases
- confirming the accuracy of polling sites addresses and accessibility information in ROPS/SITES
- reviewing and approving the information related to voting on the back of the VIC for each polling station in REVISE (if required delegate to the AC)
The AC is responsible for:
- scheduling VICs to be printed in REVISE
- aiding in the review and approval of the back of the VIC in REVISE (providing printed proofs for you to review and approve or perform the task as delegated by you)
- assigning mobile polling sites to mobile polling stations in REVISE
- rescheduling VICs for revised or added electors in REVISE
- generating Replacement Card VICs (if required) in REVISE
Variations of the Voter Information Card
There are three categories of VICs sent out to electors:
Initial PLE VICs: The bulk of VICs, which are sent out to electors registered to vote on the PLE. After the writ is dropped, ECHQ generates the PLE. The elector information from this list is used to produce the initial PLE VICs.
VICs for revised or added electors: Any electors whose information has been added to or revised on the PLE will receive a VIC after the mail out of initial PLE VICs.
Replacement Card VICs: A rare VIC created under special circumstances for electors whose polling site becomes unavailable and has changed as a result after the mailing of the initial PLE VICs. This VIC includes a "Replacement Card" icon.
7.7.3 Scheduling Initial PLE Voter Information Cards to Be Printed
The act of "scheduling" VICs can be used interchangeably with "ordering" VICs. This is done at the polling station level and the procedure spans several days during the electoral calendar (Days 33 to 27). Once a polling station is confirmed, an order is sent to ECHQ. ECHQ will use REVISE to generate PDFs of VICs, which in turn will be sent to several commercial printers across Canada to be printed and mailed to electors through Canada Post.
To order VICs for a polling station, the following conditions must be met:
- a confirmed advance polling site (in ROPS/SITES)
- a confirmed ordinary polling site (in ROPS/SITES)
- a confirmed responsible office (in ROPS/SITES)
- all accessibility confirmed for ll sites (in ROPS/SITES)
- a reviewed and approved back of the VIC (in REVISE)
Verifying the Information Related to Voting on the Back of the VIC
It is critical to review the information related to voting on the back of the VIC before VICs for a polling station can be scheduled to be printed. This is done using an interface in REVISE. There are many lists available to you to facilitate validation of the information related to voting on the back of the VIC. Refer to the following lists from ROPS/SITES and REVISE:
- List of Polling Sites (Expanded) – This report lists all facilities by polling station. Facilities that have multiple polling stations are broken down by poll number, duplicating the facility's address. The report is sorted by polling station number in ascending order.
- List of Polling Sites (Condensed) – This report is sorted by facility name in ascending order and displays all polling stations assigned within the facility.
- Report 03-060 Polling Station Report – This report contains the number of electors on the list for each polling station. This report is also used to view merged and split polling divisions.
Note: It is your responsibility to review the back of the VIC for each polling station before approving it in REVISE. To this end, request your AC to provide you with the printed copies of the VIC or look at each one using the interface in REVISE. Review them meticulously.
How to Review and Approve the Back of the VIC in REVISE
To review and approve the back of the VIC for each polling station, go to (or have your AC go to) the "Schedule VIC" screen in REVISE. Select each polling station individually and review on screen or have your AC print a copy of the back of the VIC for your evaluation.
After you have reviewed the back of the VIC and determine all the polling site information is correct, click "Approve".
If any polling site information is incorrect, click "Reject" and make the necessary changes in ROPS/SITES. Once polling site information is changed in ROPS/SITES, the updates become available shortly thereafter in REVISE because ROPS/SITES and REVISE are integrated systems.
Figure 7a Sample back of Voter Information Card
How to Schedule a VIC for Polling Stations in REVISE
After the back of the VIC for the polling station has been reviewed and approved, the AC can schedule the VIC to be printed in REVISE. This process should be done at the polling station level. It is not necessary for all polling stations to be confirmed in order to schedule printing of the VICs. For example, if 50 polling stations are confirmed on Day 32 of the electoral calendar, the AC will schedule only those polling stations, and they will be printed by ECHQ.
To schedule the VIC to be printed using REVISE:
- Select the polling stations you would like to schedule to be printed.
- Click "Schedule VICs".
Once VICs for a polling station are scheduled for printing, a date and time will be populated in the "Last Scheduled" field. After a staff member at ECHQ generates PDFs for scheduled VICs the value in the "# to be mailed" column will be zero and the "Last Printed" field will be populated with a date and time. This indicates the VICs have been printed and are ready to be shipped by the commercial printers to Canada Post.
Printing of initial PLE VICs will occur between Days 33 to 27 of the electoral calendar and will be stored at the commercial printers' facilities until Day 26 of the electoral calendar when the commercial printers will commence shipping the initial PLE VICs to Canada Post. This will take place between Days 26 to 24 of the electoral calendar.
Note: When VICs for a polling station are scheduled for printing, the order cannot be canceled. That means you must be certain that the polling site information on the back of the VIC is correct before the VICs for a polling station are scheduled for printing. If polling site information changes after a polling station is scheduled, call EC immediately.
Additional Procedures for Mobile Polls (500-Series Polls)
A mobile poll is created to visit institutions where electors have limited mobility. The institution is typically the elector's ordinary residence. Because a single mobile poll visits more than one institution, it is very important to ensure that each elector is associated with the correct institution.
When scheduling VICs for mobile polls, your AC will need to perform a few steps in REVISE to ensure that the proper VIC goes to each elector. This is done using the "Assign Mobile Polling Stations" screen in REVISE. Your AC will use the interactive tool to link the elector's institution address to the address of the mobile polling site.
In 99% of all cases, mobile polling sites are the same as mobile polling stations. As site information comes from ROPS/SITES and electoral mailing information comes from REVISE, this step is critical to link the two systems.
Note: If the mobile polling site and polling station have different addresses, you can use the "Assign Mobile Polling Station" interface to connect the station to the alternate site.
VIC Order History Report
The VIC Order History Report provides you with information pertaining to the production of the VICs. All VICs for a polling station are tracked through their production.
The VIC Order History Report provides summary information (dates and status), as it pertains to the VIC orders generated for your ED, to a detailed level that identifies the polling stations and the number of electors included in each order.
You or the AC can run the VIC Order History Report on request.
Producing Replacement Card VICs
If a polling site becomes unavailable after the initial mailing of the VICs, you must prepare a Replacement Card VIC for electors of any affected polling divisions. Ensure that you follow the specific instructions in the REVISE User's Guide to reissue VICs with the updated polling site information and a "Replacement Card" icon. Should you need to schedule Replacement Card VICs, you must first request an authorization to do so by calling ECSN.
When a Replacement Card VIC is scheduled, the card differs from the original VIC that was sent to the elector. The card will include a tag "Replacement Card / Carte de replacement" in the bottom right corner to indicate that the card is different from the first VIC that was mailed out. See Figure 7b for a "Replacement Card" sample.
Figure 7b Sample Replacement Card VIC
Producing VICs for Added or Revised Electors
After the initial PLE VICs are mailed out, the AC continues to schedule daily the printing of VICs whenever electors are added to the List of Electors or their information is modified during the revision period. VICs for added or revised electors will look identical to the initial PLE VICs. The process to schedule the printing of VICs for added or revised electors is conducted in REVISE.
Note: VICs for added or revised electors will only be generated once the transaction has been approved using the "Approve Pending Transactions" screen in REVISE. You must approve or reject all transactions on a daily basis.
Returned Voter Information Cards
VICs may be returned to the RO Office as either undeliverable because the address is unknown or incorrect or because the elector has refused to accept a card bearing someone else's name.
Most of the VICs that are returned are because EC has instructed Canada Post not to forward VICs to electors who have moved, including electors who are registered with Canada Post's National Change of Address system to have their mail forwarded to their new address.
A returned VIC is a critical piece of the electoral event strategy and action is required to deal with them. You must manually count the returned VICs and enter the total number in the Undelivered Voter Information Cards Ledger in Chapter 18. Use these figures to answer the questions in the survey tool located on the Field Personnel Intranet. Give all undelivered VICs to your revision supervisor for analysis (targeted revision may be required).
After the revision supervisor is finished analyzing the returned VICs, have them return the VICs to you. It is your responsibility to retain undelivered VICs and return them to EC after the event.
Note: It is your responsibility to contact your Canada Post representative to confirm they are aware that undelivered VICs must be sent to the RO or AARO Office. Contact EC if you do not know who your Canada Post representative is.
7.8 Office Staff
7.8.1 Hiring Office Staff
Hire the office staff after the writ is issued. Be mindful of the regulations on the 35-hour rule along with recent changes introduced for office staff and poll officials who have also worked as office staff as these changes have an impact on source deductions. To ensure that source deductions commence on the first hour worked, all office staff members are deemed to fall outside the 35-hour rule and source deductions will be calculated based on their total earnings. Any overpayment may be claimed on their personal income tax return. No reimbursement of source deductions will be issued by EC even if the individual worked less than 35 hours. Additional information is available on the "Your Pay" pamphlet (EC 11800).
Review with each staff member the job description, remuneration, payment and work schedule. For each worker, complete the Appointment and Oath (for office staff) (EC 10135) available in ROPS/SITES.
The budget of hours for each position should be sufficient to cover the entire election period. Keep enough hours for sufficient staff to help close the office after election day.
Staff members answering calls from the public should keep a record of individuals applying for employment by completing a log sheet.
To help staff that will communicate with potential election officers to collect all required information, use the 19.7, Calling Poll Workers Checklist in Chapter 19.
The CEO authorizes the appointment of one or several messengers for a number of hours, at the hourly rate stipulated in the Federal Elections Fees Tariff. When required, a messenger is reimbursed for travel and living expenses.
Messengers are appointed using the Appointment and Oath (for office staff) (EC 10135). They must take the oath before you or another qualified official and verify the information contained in the appointment portion of the form. They must retain a copy of the form as their authority to act; you keep the original.
In some areas, it may be necessary to appoint a special messenger to collect ballot boxes from polling stations on election night or shortly thereafter. Special messengers are appointed by means of the Appointment and Oath of Special Messenger or Temporary Custodian (EC 10180). They must take the oath before you or another qualified official and verify the information contained in the appointment portion of the form. They must retain a copy of the form as their authority to act; you keep the original.
7.8.3 Appointment of a Special Ballot Coordinator
You are responsible for recruiting and appointing the SBC. The SBC reports only to you or the AARO, if applicable. The SBC is on duty during office hours set by the CEO. Due to the long hours during which service must be provided to electors, it is recommended that you appoint more than one SBC and share the allocated budget. However, if you require additional hours, you must submit a request for additional hours along with a justification prior to using them.
The SBC is appointed using the Appointment and Oath (for office staff) (EC 10135). If the SBC assists electors to register and vote, appoint the SBC as an election officer using the Appointment and Oath (for election or referendum officers) (EC 10130). They must take the oath before you or another qualified official and verify the information contained in the appointment portion of the form. They must retain a copy of the form as their authority to act; you keep the original.
Additional SBCs may need to be appointed for the acute care hospital initiative, if applicable. They are referred to as hospital SBCs and must be appointed through the Appointment and Oath (for election or referendum officers) (EC 10130), since they must assist patients to register and vote. Appoint them as required.
The SBC's responsibilities consist of:
- managing registrations for special ballots
- managing the voting process
- coordinating voting by special ballot in acute care hospitals
- coordinating other voting by special ballot initiatives
The SBC deals with electors who reside in the ED and will cast their votes while in the ED (local electors) and electors who cast their votes while away from their ED (national electors).
7.8.4 Training Revision Centre Staff
Training of revision centre staff consists of the AC, assistant automation coordinator (AAC), revision supervisor, RAs, and revision centre clerks.
Training of Revision Supervisor
Revision supervisors are appointed prior to the event and start their duties as of Day 34 of the electoral calendar. Their training is made up of three components:
- Self-Directed Learning – Revision Supervisor (recommended for Day 34).
- Returning Office Procedures – Delivered by you (recommended for Day 33).
- REVISE – Delivered by the AC (recommended for Day 32).
Refer to Chapter 19, 19.1, Selection and Appointment of Election Workers for complete details regarding the various components of training and materials required.
Training of Revising Agents
RAs should be appointed by Day 33 of the electoral calendar and trained by Day 29. Training RAs is the shared responsibility of both the AC and the revision supervisor. Their training consists of:
- pre-testing to determine skill set and further modules to be trained on
- Module 1 – Basic revision procedure and team work
- Module 2 – Revision of the List of Electors Using the REVISE System
- Module 3 – Revision of the List of Electors Using Forms
- Module 4 – Targeted Revision
Refer to Chapter 19, 19.4, Revising Agents Training Schedule for complete details regarding the various components of training and materials required.
Training of Automation Coordinator
Prior to an event, you hire the AC, who is then trained by EC. The AC commences work on Day 35 of the electoral calendar. The AC plays a key role in training of the AAC, revision supervisor, RAs and revision centre clerks. The AC assists office staff in the support of software and hardware within the RO Office.
Training of Assistant Automation Coordinator
The AAC provides support in the RO Office when the AC is unavailable. The AAC should be identified prior to an event, but commence work and be trained by the AC after the event begins.
Training of Revision Centre Clerks
Revision centre clerks are hired and trained by the AC, as they are needed throughout the event. They may be utilized for data capture of forms during peak periods in the event, but their main task is to perform data entry of Registration Certificates (EC 50050) after polling day.
Refer to the Automation Coordinator's Manual for information regarding training of revision centre personnel.
7.8.5 Confidentiality Guidelines
During staff training, it is important to stipulate that all personal information at staff disposal must be protected at all times. Staff will come in contact with personal information regarding colleagues, friends, family members and neighbours. This information must remain confidential.
The Notice to Employees (EC 10125) is posted in the RO Office and distributed to all staff members as they are hired to ensure they fully understand procedures for dealing with personal information.
7.9 Incident Handling in the RO Office
Campaign Tactics and Technology Are Changing
As an RO, you should be aware that campaigning is undergoing change. Partisans are using new tactics and technology to contact voters and gather information on them. Voters are using new technology to find and share information. These changes can affect behavior in various ways throughout the writ period. New campaign tools can bring positive change, but they can also confuse people, accidentally or on purpose.
Be aware of emerging issues or problems that could be widespread. In particular, be on the look out for any situation where someone or some group seems to be trying to hinder the voting process. Front-line staff at the polls is expected to collect incident information, and escalate some of it to you for awareness, response and/or further escalation.
Increased Scrutiny of Polling Place Procedures
Since the last election, there has been increased scrutiny of polling place procedures. In a court case about a contested election in Etobicoke Centre and an audit of polling materials, there was evidence that poll workers made errors in completing paperwork.
To add further scrutiny, the electoral reform law passed in 2014 introduces a new legal requirement: that polling day procedures and records be audited by a third party auditing firm. This new section of the CEA states:
- 164.1 For each general election and by-election, the Chief Electoral Officer shall engage an auditor that he or she considers to have technical or specialized knowledge – other than a member of his or her staff or an election officer – to perform an audit and report on whether deputy returning officers, poll clerks and registration officers have, on all days of advance polling and on polling day, properly exercised the powers conferred on them, and properly performed the duties and functions imposed on them, under sections 143 to 149, 161 to 162 and 169.
It is possible that some material from your ED will become subject to an audit. It may also be possible that auditors will observe electoral procedures at some polls.
In light of all this, EC, candidates, media and others will be paying close attention to polling day procedures. Be aware of poll worker performance and resolve any issues early.
EC has formalized electoral incident reporting procedures to improve situational awareness for you and ECHQ. In past elections, there have been inconsistencies in the reporting and handling of election incidents, leaving responsible election managers – ROs and the CEO – exposed to election integrity risks. In elections going forward, incidents will continue to occur in old and new ways. The job of ECHQ and the RO is to identify, escalate and handle these incidents consistently in support of an election with trusted results. The new procedures are designed to:
- capture more field-incident information consistently (central poll supervisor (CPS), DRO, PC, other)
- respond to incidents at the polling place, where appropriate (CPS)
- escalate urgent and important incident information to you consistently for electoral district response (CPS)
- further escalation to ECHQ for (a) managing national responses where needed and (b) sharing situational awareness and response information with other ROs
Your participation helps yourself, other ROs and the CEO manage incidents in a manner that maintains confidence in EC and trust in the election results.
Handle All Complaints and Concerns Yourself or Delegate to the ARO
Electors, poll workers, candidates or anyone else may call or visit your office at any time in the election period to report incidents or complaints. We ask that you or the ARO directly handle all incidents and complaints. Decide which one of you will be responsible, and instruct staff to direct all incidents and complaints to that person.
CPSs Are Your Eyes and Ears in the Field
We have provided instructions for the CPSs to handle all complaints and concerns in their respective polling place(s). They are required to record details on the Incident Report (EC 10051). They are also required to phone you as soon as possible if they hear or see anything that seems suspicious, illegal or could interfere with the right to vote.
CPSs are your eyes and ears in the field. We want them to report issues of interest to you, in real time, so you can detect any patterns or emerging trends.
Just as CPSs report incidents to you, we want you to report them to EC. If you hear of a serious issue firsthand or through a CPS, log it on the Incident Report web form.
If EC gets real-time updates from ROs across the country, EC will have a better picture of what is happening. This lets EC detect concerning trends earlier and respond more quickly. It also means EC can pass along to you any relevant information we might have gleaned from another RO or source.
If someone calls or visits your office with a concern or complaint or if a CPS or other poll official calls:
- Ask the person to explain the issue.
- Write down details in the Incident Report (EC 10051).
- If the person making the complaint or observation has evidence, like a leaflet or a photo, scan it if necessary and attach it to the Incident Report (EC 10051).
- Evaluate whether the issue could be major, such as when:
- could impede the right to vote
- has the potential to end up in the media
- giving wrong information about when and where to vote, what ID to use, who is allowed to vote, or some other topic
- pretending to be someone they are not
- preventing people from voting (or trying to prevent)
- damaging or removing signs
- intimidating, shoving, interrupting or blocking people, or spreading wrong information about a candidate or party
- trying to register or vote illegally or encouraging another person to do so
- trying to bribe or force someone to vote, to vote a certain way, or to refrain from voting
An election official who is repeatedly:
- not doing their job properly
- turning away electors with correct ID
- preventing eligible electors from voting
Note: The CPS does not need to report misinterpretations of ID by election officials if the CPS was able to provide corrective instructions.
- A candidate representative is:
- slowing down voting
- harassing voters or poll workers
- systematically requesting to see ID
- insisting they hold or handle ID cards
- systematically challenging electors' qualification or residence
- Something is:
- If the issue meets any of the criteria above, log it on the Incident Report web form right away.
- Fix whatever you can safely and quickly.
- At the end of the day, put any forms in their envelopes.
All forms completed by your CPSs or other members of your staff will need to be entered on the web form. However, please ensure you immediately enter those related to the situations mentioned above. Other incident forms may be entered at the end of the event. Rest assured that EC will be monitoring all web forms in real time and take action if required. EC may need to contact you for further information and for follow-ups.
Complete the Incident Report Paper Form for Other Situations
If the incident does not meet any of the criteria above, resolve the situation and complete the Incident Report paper form. Keep the completed form in the appropriate envelope and return it to EC at the end of the event.
7.10 Training of Election Officers
To ensure compliance with the CEA and adherence to EC's policies, all election officers must be trained and thoroughly familiar with the procedures described in their guidebooks. Training officers are responsible for training:
- DROs (ordinary, advance and mobile polls)
- poll clerks (ordinary, advance and mobile polls)
- CPSs (ordinary and advance polls)
- information officers (ordinary and advance polls)
- registration officers (ordinary and advance polls)
7.10.2 Training Materials
EC produces the Training Officer's Manual (EC 10510), which contains all lesson plans, lists of supplies and materials as well as requirements for audio-visual equipment needed to deliver all training sessions. EC also produces several tools, supplies and materials to be used by participants in exercises. These are found in Lot 10 and on the EC training website.
Note: It is imperative that training officers follow the lesson plans provided by EC.
7.10.3 Considerations in Preparing Training Sessions
Plan training sessions with the ARO, recruitment officer(s), training officer(s) and AARO(s), if applicable.
Decide who will administer the Appointment and Oath (for election or referendum officers) (EC 10130) to all participants after each training session and complete a Delegation of Authority (EC 10090) for them. It is recommended that recruitment officer(s) assume this responsibility.
Consider the following:
- Courses for:
- DROs and poll clerks working advance, mobile and ordinary polling stations are different. Train DROs and poll clerks together only for the same type of polling station
- Information officers and registration officers are combined into one course. Train them together if you can
- CPSs build on content covered in information officer, registration officer, DRO and poll clerk courses. They must attend these before their own course
- every position require three hours, plus time to administer the Appointment and Oath (for election or referendum officers) (EC 10130). CPSs receive nine hours of training
- Hold training sessions in:
- your office, if sufficient space is available
- a room rented specifically for training outside the office, if required
- your AARO Office, if distance does not allow for everyone to be trained at your office
- smaller groups in multiple areas, if geography requires it
- one official language at a time
- the other official language, if the need arises
Note: Training must be available in both official languages. Participants must be given the option to receive training either in French or English.
- Make sure recruitment officer(s):
- schedule sessions at different times during the day, evenings and weekends
- schedule sessions for information officers and registration officers so participants can be seated in groups of three
- schedule sessions for DROs and poll clerks so participants can be seated in groups of four
- schedule CPSs to attend information officer, registration officer, DRO and poll clerk sessions before a CPS session
- schedule sessions in the other official language, as required
- leave enough time after each session to administer the Appointment and Oath (for election or referendum officers) (EC 10130) to all participants
- inform participants that:
- attending in-class training is mandatory
- they will be paid for training only if they perform the duties they are trained for
- online training is also available
- no additional allowance is provided for them to complete online training
- prepare enough copies of the Appointment and Oath (for election or referendum officers) (EC 10130) in advance using ROPS/SITES
- are familiar with the process for administering the Appointment and Oath (for election or referendum officers) (EC 10130)
- use ROPS/SITES to plan and track training sessions by date, position or session
Note: Make sure a person is not hired for two conflicting positions (e.g. as an election officer for advance polls and for ordinary polls). Safeguards in ROPS/SITES prevent two payments to the same person in one day.
- Make sure training officer(s):
- with the help of the inventory and shipping clerk, assemble supplies found in Lot 10 or each course
- retrieve and reproduce sufficient quantities of materials needed for exercises found on the EC training website for every session
- arrange the classroom so participants can be seated in groups of three or four, depending on the course
- have sufficient quantities of guidebooks for all participants
- provide sufficient quantities of training materials to the AARO(s), if required
- test all audio-visual equipment and confirm equipment is in working order
- have all important information for your ED (e.g. name of ED, time to arrive at polling place, voting hours, office information, CPS or designated DRO contact information)
- understand they must instruct participants to write this important information in their guidebook during each session
7.10.4 Observation of Training Sessions
You are expected to observe any two sessions per training officer as early as possible and complete a Training Session Observation Form (EC 10515). Your ARO or field liaison officer can also attend and discuss their observations with you.
You must then:
- provide feedback to training officers
- make any necessary adjustments for subsequent sessions
- send the observation form to EC by email or fax (attention of Field Training Division)
7.10.5 Payment for Attending Training Sessions
The Federal Elections Fees Tariff provides an allowance to the above election officers, including stand-by election officers, for attending a training session. CPSs must attend information officer, registration officer, DRO and poll clerk training in addition to their own and are paid for attending each session.
For more information on payment for stand-by election officers, see Chapter 19, 19.6, Contingency Plan for Opening Polling Stations on Time
Note: Election officers are paid to attend training only if they perform the duties they are trained for. However, you can authorize payment for training if they have a good reason for not performing their duties.
7.11 Administering Oaths
7.11.1 Who Can Administer Oaths
Unless otherwise specified, the oaths prescribed by the CEA shall be administered by the CEO or a person designated by him in writing, a judge, an RO, an ARO, a DRO, a poll clerk, a notary public, a provincial court judge, a justice of the peace or a commissioner for taking affidavits in the province. Fees are not charged for the service.
ss. 549 (1), 549 (2)
Note: It is an offence to take falsely an oath that is provided for by the CEA. It is also an offence to compel, induce or attempt to compel or induce any other person to take falsely an oath that is provided for by the CEA.
par. 499(2)(a), ss. 549(3), 549(4)
7.11.2 How to Administer Oaths
Frequently you or the ARO are required to administer a written oath. Ensure the person swearing the oath has read and signed it in front of you (or the ARO). After the person has read the oath, proceed as follows:
- Ask the appropriate question below (oath or affirmation).
- Ensure that the person signs the form.
- You (or the ARO) signs the form.
When an oath is sworn:
- Ask the person: "Do you swear that this oath signed by you is true to the best of your knowledge and belief, so help you God?"
- The person should reply: "I do swear."
If a person objects to swearing an oath and would prefer to make a solemn affirmation, the question is slightly modified, as follows:
- Ask the person: "Do you solemnly affirm that..."
- The person should reply: "I do so solemnly affirm."
7.12 Printing Arrangements
Meet with the printing company chosen during the pre-writ period to review and provide information on requirements, dates and fees. Provide the printing company with a copy of the Affidavit of the Printer (EC 10300) to be completed and submitted to you with their invoice for the printing of ballot papers.
Refer to 18.14, Printing Arrangements for step-by-step requirements for the printing/ reproduction of the Preliminary Lists of Electors, ballot papers, revised lists and official lists.
Reproduction at the RO Office
During the course of the electoral event, the following may be reproduced by photocopying them: 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).
|Item to Print||When to Print|
|Notice of Election (EC 10020)
E-form sent as an attachment to a memo
|Voter Information Card
REVISE and ROPS/SITES
|Descriptions of polling divisions||
E-form placed in the public folder by EC for verification
|List of Candidates in Large Print||
|Quick reference guides (EC 50009, EC 50016, EC 50017, EC 50018)||
|Notice of Advance Poll (EC 10140)
|Notice of Grant of Poll (EC 10170)
E-form placed in the public folder by EC for verification and approval by the RO
|Notice of Mobile Poll (EC 10160)
|Preliminary Lists of Electors
|Revised Lists of Electors
|Official Lists of Electors
Printing the Lists of Electors
It is recommended that paper of various colours (8½" x 11") be used to differentiate between preliminary, revised and official lists. The colours are as follows:
- Preliminary Lists of Electors: white
- Revised Lists of Electors for Candidates: white
- Revised Lists of Electors for DROs: yellow
- Official Lists of Electors for Candidates: white
- Official Lists of Electors for DROs: buff
If these colours cannot be used, the printing company should use white paper. Fees and allowances are in accordance with the Tariff of Fees or other CEO approved fees.
7.13 Support Network
7.13.1 Elections Canada Information Services
During electoral events, EC provides information services to different groups, depending on their particular needs.
- Public Enquiries Unit: serves the general public, the candidates, the political parties and their official agents, the media and all election officers that do not work directly in the RO Office.
- Elections Canada Support Network (ECSN): serves you and your office staff (ARO, AARO, revision supervisor, AC, financial officer and SBC).
Figure 7c EC Information Services
7.13.2 How the ECSN Works
The ECSN is a toll-free telephone service facilitating communications between field personnel and EC. To route the call to the proper helpdesk, call 1-888-677-0301, listen to the automated menu and speak the name of the corresponding helpdesk or business unit.
A number of helpdesks are available offering specialized services. The front-line advisor answering the call has a specific field of knowledge and is able to resolve the majority of questions without having to escalate the call.
Figure 7d Help Desk Procedure
7.13.3 The Different Helpdesks of the ECSN
The following helpdesks are staffed with Agents whose role it is to answer questions directly and deal with issues.
- Electoral Coordination: handles calls related to the electoral process including: opening/managing the RO Office; nomination of candidates; voting procedures; budgets for office supplies; staffing; furniture and equipment; and inquiries regarding electoral geography.
- Revision Systems: provides assistance to you, the AC and revision supervisor on all activities related to REVISE and the revision process; revision centre activities; production of the lists of electors; and other computer applications in the RO Office, including ROPS/SITES and ERS. This helpdesk also fields calls related to your home laptop (e.g. equipment, software, email).
- Special Voting Rules (SVR): answers questions specific to the administration of SVR such as voting by special ballot by electors either inside or outside their ED, or those hospitalized in acute care hospitals who may vote by special ballot.
- Finance: provides support information for all questions concerning financial management of the RO Office, including payments for election officers, suppliers and polling station rentals. It also provides basic explanations in regards to candidates' financial requirements pursuant to the CEA.
- Support Services: ensures the smooth flow of operations of the ECSN. If the caller is uncertain which helpdesk to contact, this helpdesk refers the caller to the appropriate one. It also provides support on election materials, recruitment of election officers, training activities and any other administrative or logistical support needs, including making calls to you when specific information needs to be communicated.
- IT-Telecom: handles calls related to cellular phones, BlackBerry devices, RO and AARO office telephone systems, and all network connectivity (including Internet).
- Technology: handles calls related to computer hardware and peripheral support in the RO Office.
- Complaints Management Unit: handles elector-based complaints or incident reporting needs.
Each of these helpdesks is staffed with Agents whose role is to answer questions directly and deal with issues. Where further clarification or special interpretation is required, the individual does one of the following:
- Transfer the call: If a specialist is available, the advisor may transfer the call so that the situation can be resolved promptly. Research may be required, meaning the issue cannot be resolved immediately.
- Conduct research: Depending on the complexity of the question, the advisor may need to research a solution.
- Forward the request: Specialists are in great demand during an election and are not always available immediately. When required, advisors forward requests to specialists for research and resolution. In this case, either the specialist or the advisor contacts the caller with the required information.
7.13.4 Reaching the ECSN Using Electronic Mail
To send email to EC: RSEC-ECSN@elections.ca
7.13.5 Call Tracking System – HelpVision
The HelpVision content management system (CMS) is the software-tracking tool used by EC to document every call, email, or web form received by field staff. Each person at EC who is assisting field staff has access to this computer application.
Each call that requires escalation or further research is logged into the system, along with the answer given or the action taken. The request remains in "open" status until it is resolved. ECSN continually monitors open requests to ensure they are resolved in a timely manner. Whenever email is sent, a case is created and enters the workflow.
Some of the system's advantages:
- Documentation of requests: Having a record of all requests received allows EC to better prepare for the next event.
- Sharing of information: If one RO asks a question, another RO may have a similar question. The CMS contains a knowledge base that provides reference material to support staff at EC to ensure consistent answers are provided to all ROs. If unanticipated questions arise, a new reference article can be quickly published within the CMS to provide support staff with the approved response.
- Timely resolution: The system displays the requests that remain outstanding. ECSN monitors these closely to ensure the issues are resolved promptly.
- Follow-ups: Requests are assigned to one group. This means that if any delays are encountered, ECSN can quickly identify them and take corrective action.
7.13.6 Support Services for Other Client Groups
Other information services exist for our client groups. It is important to retain these phone numbers to refer clients appropriately.
- 1-800-463-6868 – Public Enquiries Unit: The role of the Public Enquiries Unit is to assist and support the public. These requests may come through EC's website (email or web forms), fax and regular mail but mostly on the toll-free line. This line also provides the public with service in one of the two official languages when it is not available in the RO Office.
- 1-800-486-6563 – Candidates and Parties Support Line: Candidates, political parties or local riding associations may call this number with questions concerning finances, political party or local riding association registration and other operational questions.
- 1-800-823-8488 – Payment Inquiry Line: This helpdesk serves all workers not paid through ROPS/SITES. (Questions regarding workers' payroll should be directed to the Finance helpdesk of the ECSN.)
- 1-866-820-4346 – CanTalk (translation service for non-official languages): This line provides translation services for non-official languages. When prompted for the client identification number, provide the following number "2225" and follow the instructions.
- 1-800-486-6563 – Election Expenses: This service is for candidates, official agents and auditors and offers information about candidate expenses.
Note: You and your staff should not call the Election Expenses number. Basic information regarding candidate expenses can be obtained through the Finance Helpdesk of the ECSN.
- 1-877-877-9515 – Media:
Note: If you need help regrading the media, contact your field liaison officer.
7.13.7 Enquiries from the Public Through the RO
During an electoral event, expect enquiries from the public. Most of these are of a routine nature, and can easily be answered by any RO office staff member. In particular, be prepared to answer questions concerning the location of polling stations. However, questions that involve an interpretation of the CEA must be referred to EC. Any questions concerning the application of election expenses provisions of the CEA must be referred to the candidate's party headquarters or to EC.
7.14 Enforcement of the Canada Elections Act
7.14.1 Obligations, Prohibitions and Offences
Become familiar with the obligations, prohibitions and offences outlined in the CEA that relate to the work of the RO and ARO. Election officers who fail to conform with stated obligations and prohibitions may be removed from their position or may be liable to severe penalties.
Note: Offences are set out in Part 19 of the CEA, organized by part and provision number.
Refer to Chapter 21, 21.3, Frequently Consulted Obligations and Prohibitions for a list of the more frequently consulted obligations and prohibitions in the CEA.
Electors with questions concerning election expense provisions are referred to Political Financing in Gatineau at 1-800-463-6868.
7.14.2 Investigation of Offences
The role of the Commissioner of Canada Elections is to ensure compliance with the CEA. Complaints and allegations of non-compliance with the Act are generally submitted in writing to the Commissioner, who determines whether the complaints and allegations appear to be founded and within the Commissioner's mandate. If the Commissioner determines that this is indeed the case, an investigation may be conducted. Any person, including the CEO, may submit a complaint. The Commissioner may refer the matter to the Director of Public Prosecutions who shall decide whether to initiate a prosecution. If a court determines that the allegations or charges that form the basis of the prosecution are proven, the court may impose a penalty on the accused.
Any complaints or alleged offences, with all supporting information and relevant details, should be submitted in writing to the Commissioner of Canada Elections, who will determine whether to investigate or refer the matter to the Director of Public Prosecutions. The Commissioner is no longer part of EC. The website of the Commissioner may be found at www.cef-cce.gc.ca.
7.15 Liaison with Political Parties and Candidates
The following guidelines will assist you in dealing with political parties and candidates. They are not intended to be a description of all the responsibilities regarding political parties and candidates, but a measure against which your responsibilities may be assessed.
- help you be seen as impartial and fair towards all candidates and representatives of all political parties
- ensure that all candidates and representatives of political parties receive the same information
- help raise the quality and level of service made available during electoral events
Points to remember:
- Candidates and representatives of political parties have the right to be treated equally, regardless of political affiliation or prospect of winning.
- Candidates and representatives of political parties have a right to expect prompt, authoritative responses from you.
- Sensitivity and responsiveness to the special needs of candidates and political parties are essential qualities. Ensure that all concerns are dealt with in the most appropriate way.
- Throughout the electoral event, you provide information to candidates, political parties and their representatives.
- A joint meeting of all candidates and political parties (or their representatives) must take place after the writ is issued.
To ensure certain uniformity across Canada of the topics discussed in each ED, a draft agenda for these meetings is available in Chapter 20, 20.13, Agenda – Joint Meeting of Political Parties and Candidates (sample). Tailor the agenda to suit the needs of your ED. Discuss all topics included in the agenda.
7.15.1 Dealings with Political Parties and Candidates
The following table outlines the tasks and responsibilities concerning your dealings with political parties and candidates.
|Liaison with political parties||Before the electoral event
During the electoral event
After the electoral event
|Liaison with potential candidates||During the electoral event
|Liaison with confirmed candidates||During the electoral event
The key to successful relations with all candidates and representatives of political parties is to treat them fairly and equally.
7.15.2 Conduct of the Meeting
Start planning the meeting with local political parties and candidates (as they are confirmed). Call to advise them of the meeting date and time, which should be Day 18 or 17. Briefly explain the agenda.
- All communications with candidates and political parties related to this meeting must be recorded by using the form found in Chapter 20, 20.14, Follow-up Report – Joint Meeting of Political Parties and Candidates.
- Keep records of communications with the candidates and political parties to help with follow-ups, and for EC to refer to when answering questions from the political parties regarding the efforts made to communicate with them.
- Officially invite the participants after contacting the political parties and the candidates. Refer to Chapter 20, 20.13, Agenda – Joint Meeting of Political Parties and Candidates (sample). Send them an invitation letter and a detailed agenda for the meeting by Priority Post or fax.
- A list of subjects to be discussed is provided in Chapter 20, 20.11, Liaison with Political Parties and Candidates – Joint Meeting.
- Keep notes on the issues discussed during the meeting to draft a brief summary of the discussions.
- Assign a staff member, preferably the ARO, to attend the meeting and take minutes.
Draft the meeting summary immediately after the meeting using Chapter 20, 20.15, Summary – Joint Meeting of Political Parties and Candidates. Once completed, sign and send a scanned copy to each participant as well as EC using the online form in your public folders (Quality Control – Uploads, 09 – Meeting Summary).