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Returning officer duties

Plans and prepares for an election by carrying out pre-event tasks that include but are not limited to the following:

  • Identifies local suppliers and contracts with them for the rental of furniture and equipment, the purchase of sundry supplies, and printing services
  • Recruits, appoints and trains office staff
  • Locates suitable and accessible space for the returning office and for polling sites and negotiates with landlords
  • Reviews the electoral district's addressing information to ensure that electors are registered at the correct officially designated address
  • Identifies areas for targeted revision, such as new residential developments, high-mobility areas and institutions.
  • Reviews polling division boundaries
  • Ensures that an outreach action plan is created for each of the target groups represented within the electoral district

Plans and organizes the delivery of access to voting:

  • Publishes statutory public notices
  • Appoints and directs the work of hundreds of election officers
  • Administers oaths
  • Implements security measures as required for the protection of information, assets, staff and the general public at the returning office and at polling sites
  • Coordinates the preparation and mailing of voter information cards to all registered electors
  • Establishes polling stations and distributes notices as required by the Canada Elections Act
  • Requests a list of recommended revising agents, registration officers, deputy returning officers and poll clerks from political parties or candidates, as the case may be; recruits from other sources, if lists provided are insufficient to fill all available positions
  • Assigns election officers to polling stations, trains them and issues their supplies
  • Arranges for the distribution of the lists of electors to candidates
  • Manages the revision and printing of the lists of electors
  • Coordinates, validates and reports on the results of the vote
  • Manages the judicial recount process, if necessary
  • Coordinates the return of election documents, furniture, equipment and telephone apparatuses

Manages and controls financial, material and human resources:

  • Manages the available budget for staff, essential services, supplies, materials and equipment
  • Develops a plan for allocating resources
  • Establishes expense accounts and ensures proper recording and monitoring of expenditures
  • Ensures staff and election officers are payroll-processed
  • Ensures that employees are trained in procedures and understand their roles and responsibilities
  • Ensures election officers and staff respect confidentiality guidelines issued by Elections Canada
  • Ensures compliance with the instructions of the Chief Electoral Officer
  • Negotiates for and leases accommodation space and essential services
  • Determines office requirements (floor space, furniture/equipment, office supplies), conducts searches, finalizes arrangements and acquires supplies
  • Establishes a floor plan and supervises set-up of office
  • Manages the inventory, supply and distribution of materials

Administers the Canada Elections Act:

Communicates information to the public, candidates and political parties:

  • Ensures that systems are in place and working efficiently and accurately within the returning office to respond to the needs of personnel and inquiries from the public
  • Complies to Elections Canada directives with respect to media inquiries
  • Ensures that candidates and political parties are provided with all documentation and material to which they are entitled
  • Responds to requests and suggestions from candidates and political parties
  • Responds to daily questions from Elections Canada for the Event Management System
  • Responds to requests and questions from the Elections Canada Support Network and field liaison officers

Communications with Elections Canada personnel:

  • Ensures all communications are professional, respectful and provided in requested time

Contributes to the improvement of the electoral process:

  • Completes administrative report, “Returning Officer's Report of Proceedings”
  • Participates as requested in event post-mortems and consultations
  • Continuously seeks more efficient ways of administering the electoral process within his or her electoral district
  • Engages in consultations with Elections Canada that contribute to procedural, organization and/or technical improvements that improve the efficiency of the returning office