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Chapter 9 – Ballots (08/2021)

The ballot is at the heart of the electoral process and of the elector’s right to vote. Therefore, you must be diligent when overseeing ballot preparation, and must comply with stringent deadlines imposed by the CEA.

Table 9 Ballot Types
Ballot Type Purpose
Special ballots These blank ballots are used for voting by special ballot in accordance with the Special Voting Rules (SVR). Electors must write in the name of their chosen candidate.

Refer to the section Special ballots for an overview or to Chapter 12 – Special Voting Rules.
Regular ballots These ballots are printed with the candidates' names and are used during advance polling days and ordinary/mobile polls. When printed regular ballots are available, local electors must use these ballots when voting in your office, in accordance with SVR.

9.1 Shipment of ballot paper sheets

Ballot paper sheets are boxed in bundles of 500. The number of sheets supplied is based on calculations done prior to the event and given an average number of seven to eight candidates in the ED.

Elections Canada supplies the following material:

  1. A sufficient number of sheets of ballot papers sent directly to the printing contractor by Day 24, unless you indicate otherwise during the pre-event assignments.
  2. The Instructions for the Ballot Printer (EC 10720).
  3. A Specimen Booklet of Ballot Papers (EC 10790). The RO must send this document once the writ has been issued.

Given the distance of some EDs, you must ensure that the printer has enough ballot paper sheets to print the required amount of ballots.

Figure 7 Ballot paper – single file set (front and back)

Figure 7 Ballot paper – single file set (front and back)

Text version of "Figure 7 Ballot paper – single file set (front and back)"

This figure shows a sample of how ballot paper is set up for the printing contractor. The front presents the ballot with candidates' names and a circle at the right in which the elector can mark his vote. The back presents the ballot number, a drawing of the Canadian Parliament Peace Tower, the polling day date, the electoral district information, and the name and address of the printing contractor.

9.2 Instructions for the printer

You must read the instructions for the ballot printer before meeting the printing contractor. The Instructions for the Ballot Printer (EC 10720), which you must review with the printer, instruct the printing contractor on what is required to produce and assemble the books of ballots.

9.2.1 Names of candidates on ballots

Ballots shall contain the names of candidates, arranged alphabetically, taken from their Nomination Papers.

The name of the political party that has endorsed the candidate shall be listed on the ballot under the name of the candidate.

When a candidate is running as an independent, the word “Independent” follows the name on the ballot. If a candidate has requested that there be no designation, then a series of black dashes is inserted instead.

The ballot shall list under the candidate’s name the address or occupation of a candidate who makes a written request to that effect to the returning officer before 5:00 p.m. on the closing day for nominations, if the candidate and another candidate on the ballot have the same name and both candidates have chosen […] to either have the word “independent” or no designation of political affiliation under their names in election documents.

The candidates’ surnames shall appear in all capital letters.

9.2.2 Approving the ballot proof

After all candidates have been confirmed (Day 19), EC will provide you with the List of Candidates Verification Report (EC 10043). Once this document is approved, ECHQ will send your previously identified printer electronic copies of the ballot files, along with an additional copy of the Instructions for the Ballot Printer.

  1. The printer will prepare a proof for your review and approval.
  2. If the proof is acceptable to you, instruct the printer to begin production of the ballots.
  3. Upload a copy of the ballot proof to FAMT.

Refer to the C13 Verifying the ballot proof.

Keep a copy of the List of Candidates Verification Report (EC 10043) and the approved ballot proof for your records.

The returning officer shall, as soon as possible after 2:00 p.m. on the 19th day before polling day, authorize the printing of a sufficient number of ballots.

9.2.3 Number of ballots required

Although the revision of the lists of electors may not yet be complete, it may be possible to fairly accurately calculate the number of ballots required based on the number of registered electors immediately after the close of nominations. You can do so by using the Ballot Planning and Distribution Tool (EC 10400), a Web-based tool accessible in STAT (RO Toolkit). This tool will help you with the calculation and support your ballot management activities.

The Ballot Planning and Distribution Tool calculates the number of ballots required as follows:

  1. For each ordinary polling division, as many ballots as the number of electors currently on the list of electors in revise, plus 5 percent, rounded up to the next 50.
  2. For each advance polling division, as many ballots as the expected turnout for that advance polling division (based upon the number of electors currently on the list of electors in revise, historical data, and trend analysis), plus 5 percent, rounded up to the next 50.
  3. Additional ballots for local electors who will personally cast a special ballot in the office according to SVR.
  4. Additional ballots to be kept at the office as a contingency.
  5. You may add extra ballots for any advance or ordinary PD at which you expect unusually high registration. Determine if voter registration on polling day could be higher because electors have not been reached through targeted revision, the Elector Reminder Program or a low e-registration (online) count.
  6. You may add extra ballots for any advance or ordinary polling place that is a significant distance from your office (and the AARO office, if applicable).

For more information, consult the Instructions for the Ballot Planning and Distribution Tool (EC 12308).

Before voting begins, each RO shall provide each DRO in their ED with enough ballots for at least the number of electors on the official list of electors for the DRO’s polling station.

Unused ballots reserved for advance polls cannot be used on polling day if they have been distributed to a DRO.

9.2.4 Delivery of regular ballots

Verify each ballot when received from the printing contractor to ensure that the name of each candidate is printed correctly. For more information on planning and distribution of ballots to election officers, consult Instructions for the Ballot Planning and Distribution (EC 12308).

The printing contractor must also return to ECHQ all unused ballot paper sheets, portions of sheets, or sheets spoiled during the printing process, along with all cut-off portions after printing is completed. Canada Post will be in contact with the printer to arrange pick-up of the materials after polling day.

An elector who applies to vote in person at the office of the returning officer for his or her electoral district after ballots for the electoral district have been printed shall be given a ballot that is not a special ballot and shall immediately vote by using the inner and outer envelope and return the outer envelope to the election officer.

C13 Verifying the ballot proof

ECHQ emails two sets of camera-ready files of the ballot and a List of Candidates in Large Print file, along with the instructions, to your identified printer and your RO email account.

Requirement Steps
  1. The printer produces ballot proof of front and back of ballot
Ensure that the printer has received the email with ballot and Candidate Large Print PDF files, the Instructions for the Ballot Printer (EC 10720), the Printing Specifications for the List of Candidates in Large Print (EC 10721), and that he begins producing a ballot proof for your approval.
  1. You verify ballot proof
1. Verify that the proof represents the front and the back of the ballot, and that it is printed on the supplied ballot paper.
2. Verify the proof against the set of camera-ready layouts for a single ballot that were sent to the printer.
3. Verify that the front of the ballot is aligned by checking that the text is centered in the boxes and the circles are on the right.
4. Verify that:
  • the ballot proof contains the correct number of candidates;
  • the names of the candidates are in the correct order; and
  • the names and political parties match with the List of Candidates Verification Report you approved on Day 19.

5. Verify that the ballot proof contains the location of the perforations to be made on the ballot.
6. Verify that the ballot proof for the back of the ballot includes:
  • the artwork;
  • the ED name in both English and French;
  • the location of the place markers for the serial numbers on both the counterfoil and the stub;
  • the box for the election officer’s initials;
  • the box for the polling division;
  • the date of polling day; and
  • the date of polling day; and

    The printer must NOT include his logo.


  1. You authorizes ballot proof
1. After verifying that there are no errors, instruct the printer to begin printing the ballots, and indicate the number required of ballots and Lists of Candidates in Large Print, if any.
2. For information on the number of ballots to be printed, refer to the Instructions for the Ballot Planning and Distribution Tool (EC 12308).
3. Scan and upload a copy of the ballot proof (front and back) that you have approved in FAMT.
4. Keep a copy of the approved ballot proof for your records.

9.3 Ballot security and payment

9.3.1 Affidavit of the printer

Give the Affidavit of the Printer of the Ballot Papers (EC 10300) form to the printing contractor. The affidavit must be completed and sworn before the RO or any other person authorized to receive affidavits in the province. The printing contractor returns the completed affidavit when delivering the ballots.

When the printing company returns the affidavit along with the ballots, verify the following:

  • All the requested information appears on the affidavit
  • The oaths are taken
  • Both you and the printer have signed the affidavit

Then, make two copies of the completed affidavit:

  • Provide them to the printing contractor – ask them to place one copy in the monotainer along with the leftover ballot paper for its return to ECHQ, and to keep one for their records.
  • Keep the original for your files.

9.3.2 Paying the ballot printer

Refer to Volume I, 8.3.3 "Paying for printing services" of this manual for instructions on processing payments to your printer.

When you receive the invoice from the printing contractor after delivery of the ballots:

  1. Provide a copy of the affidavit and the printer's invoice to your FO who will then attached it to the Acquisition Card Register (EC 11715) or the Special Account Form (EC 11670) for processing and payment.
  2. Upload a copy of the affidavit and a copy of the printer's invoice into FAMT, under the "Ballot Printer Invoice and Affidavit" assignment.

9.4 Special ballots

Between the issue of the writ and the production of regular ballots, “write-in” special ballots are to be issued to both local and national (out-of-ED) electors who registered to vote by special ballot. Once regular ballots are ready, special ballots continue to be issued to national electors while local electors voting inside the office must be issued a regular ballot. Local electors voting outside the office (e.g., voting by mail or via a home visit) must still receive a “write-in” special ballot.

The number of special ballots for your office is tailored to each office. If there is an AARO office in your ED, a supply of special ballots is sent directly to the additional office. Special ballots for the AARO-ESP offices are kept at your office until the office space is available and secured. The number of special ballots is tailored to the size of the population that the AARO-ESP office is serving.