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Thirty-sixth General Election 1997: Official Voting Results: Synopsis



OVERVIEW

POLLING STATIONS AND ELECTION WORKERS

Polling stations

The Canada Elections Act provides that voting shall take place in one or more polling stations established in each polling division (see Table D). In all, 56 320 polling stations were established on polling day.


TABLE D
Distribution of polling divisions and polling stations,
by province and territory – 36th general election 1997
Province or territory
Number of polling
divisions
Number of polling
stations
Newfoundland
Prince Edward Island
Nova Scotia
New Brunswick
Quebec
Ontario
Manitoba
Saskatchewan
Alberta
British Columbia
Northwest Territories
Yukon Territory
1 266*
       296  
    1 987  
1 552*
  13 837  
  19 375  
    2 196  
    2 051  
5 124*
    6 572  
  138*
    74*
  1 306  
     304  
  2 073  
  1 642  
14 266  
19 950  
  2 276  
  2 108  
  5 266  
  6 930  
     125  
       74  
Total
54 468*   
56 320  
* Revised data, March 2000

The majority of these polling stations were located in educational facilities (25.92%) and community centres (26.60%). As shown in Table E, polling stations were also established in places as varied as hospitals, fire stations and Indian reserves, to make voting as accessible as possible.


TABLE E
Premises used as polling stations on ordinary
polling day – 36th general election 1997
Premises
Number
Percentage
Community centres
Educational facilities
Senior citizens' residences
Parish halls
Municipal buildings
Private residences
Commercial premises
Hospitals
Fire stations
Royal Canadian Legion
Recreation centres
Band council offices
Other
4 587
4 470
2 422
1 633
884
878
561
512
407
299
272
126
192
26.60  
25.92  
14.05  
9.47  
5.13  
5.09  
3.25  
2.97  
2.36  
1.73  
1.58  
0.73  
1.11  
Total
17 243
100.00  

Each ordinary, stationary polling station served an average of 354 electors. The polls were open for 12 hours, rather than 11 hours as they had been in previous elections. For the first time, voting hours were staggered in the different time zones so that all stations closed at more or less the same time (see Table F).


TABLE F
Hours of voting – 36th general election 1997
Time zone
Opening and closing
hours of polling
stations, local time
Closing times,
Pacific time
Closing times,
Eastern time
Newfoundland time
8:30 a.m. – 8:30 p.m.
4:00 p.m.
7:00 p.m.
Atlantic time
8:30 a.m. – 8:30 p.m.
4:30 p.m.
7:30 p.m.
Eastern time
9:30 a.m. – 9:30 p.m.
6:30 p.m.
9:30 p.m.
Central time
8:30 a.m. – 8:30 p.m.
6:30 p.m.
9:30 p.m.
Mountain time
7:30 a.m. – 7:30 p.m.
6:30 p.m.
9:30 p.m.
Pacific time
7:00 a.m. – 7:00 p.m.
7:00 p.m.
10:00 p.m.

Under the Act, every polling station is required to have level access. If returning officers are unable to obtain suitable premises equipped with such access, they may, with the Chief Electoral Officer's prior approval, locate a polling station in premises without level access. For the election of June 2, 1997, only 406 polling places (2.3%) did not have level access.

The Canada Elections Act also provides for the establishment of mobile polling stations to collect the votes of elderly or disabled persons residing in institutions. These polling stations, set up in polling divisions containing two or more health care institutions, travel from one institution to the next and remain open at each place only as long as it takes for the electors to vote. From coast to coast, 716 mobile polling stations were established to serve a population of 127 074 registered electors (see Table G).

Special measures were taken to facilitate voting for electors affected by the severe flooding in Manitoba. In one case, a mobile polling station was established outside the electoral district to collect votes from evacuated electors.



TABLE G
Number of mobile polling stations
and electors served – 36th general election 1997
Province or territory
Number of mobile
polling stations
Number of
electors served
Newfoundland
Prince Edward Island
Nova Scotia
New Brunswick
Quebec
Ontario
Manitoba
Saskatchewan
Alberta
British Columbia
Northwest Territories
Yukon Territory
11  
6  
21  
35  
147  
204  
39  
37  
99  
117  
0  
0  
1 094  
756  
3 867  
5 184  
23 381  
40 674  
6 059  
6 950  
17 585  
21 524  
0  
0  
Total
716  
127 074  

Returning officers are also required to locate an advance poll in each advance polling district. A total of 3 029 advance polls were established for the 36th general election, and these polls had to be located in suitable premises with level access.

Returning officers also had to allow electors in their electoral district to register for the special ballot by 6:00 p.m. on May 27, 1997.



Election workers

Almost 150 000 election workers were mobilized to serve electors in returning officers' offices during the election period and at polling stations (see Table H).



TABLE H
Number of election workers in
electoral districts – 36th general election 1997
Types of election workers
Number
Returning officers
Assistant returning officers
Additional assistant returning officers
Training officers
Central poll supervisors
Deputy returning officers – ordinary polling stations
Deputy returning officers – advance polling stations
Poll clerks – ordinary polling stations
Poll clerks – advance polling stations
Registration officers
Information officers
Revising agents
Data entry staff
Support staff and automation coordinators
301 
301 
65 
38 
6 583 
56 321 
3 029 
56 321 
3 029 
6 583 
8 000 
6 300 
1 000 
2 000 
Total
149 871 

Each electoral district has its own returning officer, who appoints an assistant returning officer and all the other workers needed to conduct the election properly – on average, almost 500 people in all. The returning officer must be a qualified elector in the electoral district, but does not vote unless there is a tie following a recount. All election workers are required to undertake formally to refrain from engaging in any partisan activities and to carry out their duties impartially.

The returning officer is appointed by the Governor in Council and cannot be removed from office unless there are sufficient grounds. However, the position becomes vacant if the returning officer resigns or the boundaries of the electoral district are changed as part of redistribution.

In 1996-97, 274 returning officers were appointed to the electoral districts as defined by the Representation Order of 1996 (see Table I). That high number is attributable to redistribution, which redefined the boundaries of most electoral districts and created new ones. Each new or redefined district is considered a new district, making it necessary to appoint a new returning officer. In the 31 districts that did not change, the returning officers were able to stay on without being reappointed.


TABLE I
Appointments and resignations of
returning officers
 
Number of
returning officers
appointed
Number of
returning officers
who resigned
1996
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
January
February
March
April
May
June
July
August
September
October
November
December
0
0
2
0
0
106
0
109
24
12
4
0
0
0
0
0
0
1
3
2
3
4
2
3
Total for 1996
257
18
1997
 
 
 
 
 
January
February
March
April
May
June
4
5
7
1
0
0
3
2
2
1
0
1
Total for 1997
17
9



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