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News Releases and Media Advisories

Voting by Special Ballot on University Campuses

OTTAWA, April 15, 2011 — The Special Voting Rules of the Canada Elections Act provide for the use of the special ballot to assist electors in a range of situations. Certain electors, including members of the Canadian Forces serving abroad and electors away from their ridings during a federal election (eg. snowbirds), can vote only by special ballot. The special ballot is also available to all electors who wish to vote by mail or at the local Elections Canada office.

Because the rules governing the use of the special ballot are different from those for standard voting methods, Elections Canada generally uses the special ballot outside the local Elections Canada office in defined circumstances to assist electors who face barriers to voting, such as electors in acute care hospitals or in isolated work camps in locations like Fort McMurray in northern Alberta.

"Initiatives of this nature are expected to be planned well ahead of the election," said Chief Electoral Officer of Canada Marc Mayrand. "Parties are consulted, to avoid any confusion and to give them an opportunity to raise any possible concerns so that these may be considered and, where appropriate, addressed prior to conducting such initiatives."

In light of the focus on youth and student electoral participation at the 41st general election, and on efforts to increase voter interest and turnout among this group, a well-intentioned returning officer undertook a special initiative to create an opportunity for students at the University of Guelph to vote by special ballot.

Once Elections Canada officials were made aware of the local initiative in Guelph, the returning officer was instructed not to engage in any further activities of a similar nature. All returning officers have received this instruction.

While the initiative at the University of Guelph was not pre-authorized by the Chief Electoral Officer, the Canada Elections Act provides that electors may apply for and vote by special ballot. A special ballot coordinator, appointed by the local returning officer, oversaw the activities at the University of Guelph. All information at our disposal indicates that the votes were cast in a manner that respects the Canada Elections Act and are valid.

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