Chapter 11 – At the polls (08/2021)
The traditional mobile polls used in previous GEs will be limited in scope for the foreseeable future. Long-term care facilities and seniors' residences, formerly served by mobile polls, will now be served by adaptive advance polls. Each poll will be set up as a single-building poll to take place between Day 13 and Day 0 (polling day). Each facility will have its own unique polling division number, list of electors, ballot box and set of voting materials.
11.1 Hours of operation
11.1.1 Advance polls
An advance polling station shall be open between the hours of 9:00 a.m. and 9:00 p.m. [local time] on Friday, Saturday, Sunday and Monday, the 10th, 9th, 8th and 7th days, respectively, before polling day.
11.1.2 Polling day
Polling day shall be on a Monday (Day 0). If, in the week in which the election is to be held, the Monday is a holiday, polling day shall be held on the Tuesday of that week.
Voting hours on polling day are defined by the CEA as follows:
|Time Zone||Voting Hours|
|Newfoundland, Atlantic or Central||8:30 a.m. to 8:30 p.m.|
|Eastern||9:30 a.m. to 9:30 p.m.|
|Mountain||7:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m.|
|Pacific||7:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m.|
Exceptions to voting hours
If polling day is held during daylight saving time and the ED is located in Saskatchewan, voting hours are:
- Central time zone: 7:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m.
- Mountain time zone: 7:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m.
When more than one local time is observed in an electoral district, the returning officer shall, with the prior approval of the CEO, determine one local time to be observed for every operation prescribed by this Act, and shall publish the hours in the Notice of Election.
RO and ARO availability
The RO and the ARO must be in attendance at the office on polling day.
The CPS and the DRO are responsible for reporting to you any difficulties or incidents and communicating your instructions to election officers. Refer to Volume IV, Chapter 4 of this manual, Staffing and planning considerations for the polls and section 4.5.1, Establishing a poll worker contingency plan for information on staffing to build resilient polling place teams.
You and your ARO must be available to resolve potential issues, such as:
- a DRO or other poll worker has not reported for duty
- a DRO, CPS or poll worker cannot access the polling place
- responding to candidate or media inquiries regarding an issue that occurred at a polling station
- referring candidates to the Political Entities' Support Line
- addressing any incidents reported by CPSs and DROs; entering details of the incident into the online incident reporting tool as soon as possible
11.2 Procedures at advance polls
11.2.1 Directing electors
To vote at the advance poll, electors must be listed on the RLE and provide satisfactory proof of identity and residence. If an elector is not on the list, the elector will be directed to the registration desk staffed by the registration officer (or the CPS if there is no registration officer). There, the elector must provide proof of identity and address and complete a Registration Certificate (EC 50050) before being allowed to vote.
The registration officer will also use the Alphabetical List of Electors by Polling Site to verify if the elector is registered or requires a correction to his information. Registration officers will assist electors by completing the registration certificates, correction forms and vouching forms as required. The registration officer will then direct the elector to the advance polling station where the DRO will authorize proof of identity and address, review completed forms and certificates, and make the appropriate notes on the Revised List of Electors.
The IO will direct electors who are "vote ready", meaning they have a VIC and ID with name, to the advance polling station identified on the VIC. The DRO has the final authority to accept the elector's documents proving identity and residence; the IO is only to remind electors that they will need proof of identity and residence to vote.
The IO will direct all electors who do not have a VIC with them to the registration desk.
11.2.2 Error or discrepancy on the Revised Lists of Electors
The DRO must be satisfied that the identification documents presented by an elector actually belong to that person. Sometimes there is a discrepancy between the name on the documents and the name on the list of electors. If the discrepancy is great enough that the DRO is not satisfied that the identification (ID) and list refer to the same person, the elector will need to complete a Registration certificate.
Any elector whose name is struck off the list as voted, and insists that he has not voted, may make a written declaration on the Voting Status Certificate (EC 50051). Once the elector presents ID and the certificate is authorized by the DRO, the elector may vote.
Potential cases of double voting
There are a number of instances where office staff may be required to do research to ensure that double voting has not occurred. It is disconcerting to the elector when they come to vote and discover that his name has already been crossed off the list and marked as "having voted". These issues may arise when service agents or service centre support officers strike electors in REVISE as having voted by special ballot or at advance polls.
Training courses and guidebooks will provide the election officers or the service centre support officers (EC 40232, currently in production) with the procedures to follow if an elector has been identified as "having voted".
Once identified, all cases of potential double voting need to be reported to ECHQ by providing information and the accompanying documentation. This will then be sent to the Commissioner of Canada Elections, who may seek further investigation. The Commissioner's staff may also contact you directly if more information is needed.
You or your delegated staff are to send an email at email@example.com marked urgent and with the subject "Potential Double Vote". Provide as much supporting information and documentation as possible from the list in the table below. Documents required will vary according to the voting methods used by the elector.
|Forms and documents needed (if available)||Advance polls||Ordinary / mobile poll||SVR Special ballot (local)||SVR Special ballot (national)|
|General information: elector name, elector ID, elector sequence number, elector ED and elector PD||✓||✓||✓||✓|
|Incident Report Form (EC 10051)||✓||✓||✓||✓|
|Correction Form (EC 50049)||✓||✓|
|Events Log (EC 50060)||✓||✓|
|Helper Form (EC 50036)||✓||✓|
|Polling Place Log (EC 50358)||✓||✓|
|Polling Site Report||✓||✓|
|Qualification Form (EC 50034)||✓||✓|
|Registration Certificate (EC 50050)||✓||✓|
|Transfer Certificate (EC 50052)||✓||✓|
|Visitor Log (EC 50428)||✓||✓|
|Voting Status Certificate (EC 50051)||✓||✓|
|Vouching Form (EC 50055)||✓||✓|
|Record of Electors (EC 50080)||✓|
|Revised List of Electors (incl. Statement of Changes)||✓|
|Sequence Number Sheet – Advance Polls (EC 50109)||✓|
|Official List of Electors||✓|
|Sequence Number Sheet – Election Day (EC 50111)||✓|
|Application for Registration and Special Ballot (EC 78530)||✓||✓|
|Special Ballot Voting Qualification Form (EC 78609)||✓||✓|
|Application Registration and Special Ballot Kit (Local) (EC 78520)||✓|
|Outer Envelope – Local Elector (EC 78860)||✓|
|Record of Outer Envelope Issued to Local SVR Electors (EC 78720)||✓|
|Revision and Special Ballot Voting Vouching Form (EC 78055)||✓|
|Application Registration and Special Ballot (National) (EC 78510)||✓|
|Outer Envelope – National Elector (HQ) (EC 78876)||✓|
|Outer Envelope – National Elector (RO) (EC 78870)||✓|
Should an elector state they have not voted at the polling station in question, and that their name had been struck in error, there is no way to verify this information. These cases should nevertheless be reported to ECHQ for analysis.
If you suspects that an elector may have voted a second time, notify the FSN (How to reach us). Any recurring patterns should be communicated to the OCIU. You will be required to scan and send any supporting documents for review.
If a potential case of double voting is identified after polling day, or the elector has voted nationally by special ballot, the research cannot be done at the AARO office because the white copies of the Record of Electors (EC 50080) and the Application for Registration and Special Ballot – Local Elector (EC 78560) have already been shipped to your office. The AARO must scan and send any suspect certificates to your office as soon as possible so that research can be done.
11.2.3 Processing completed certificates and forms
Throughout the day, the DRO will receive or complete a variety of forms and certificates including the Registration Certificate (EC 50050), Correction Form (EC 50049), Voting Status Certificate (EC 50051) and Vouching Form (EC 50055). Once they are completed, he places them in the allocated folder during the day. At the end of the night, the CPS or the IO must sort and count the forms before placing them in the Office Documents Bag (EC 50390) for the site and sealing the bag. This bag is then brought to your office after each night of advance polls. Registrations and corrections need to be integrated into the list of electors as soon as possible after the close of polls.
All completed forms and certificates will now be returned in the Office Documents Bag (EC 50390), including the Transfer Certificates (EC 50052), the Qualification Forms (EC 50034) and the Helper Forms (EC 50036).These forms do not require processing. They do need to be filed and returned in Lot 104 with all documents completed at the polls.
Electors may choose to have their identity and residence vouched for by another elector, provided that the voucher:
- knows the elector personally
- has proof of identity and address
- is on the list or registering on the list for any of the polling divisions assigned to the same polling place as the elector
- has not had his identity and address vouched for at the election
- has not vouched for another elector at the same election except if the voucher is employed ion a long-term care institution and has vouched for the identity and residence of electors residing at that institution.
Both electors will need to make a declaration on the Vouching Form (EC 50055).
If the vouching form is completed at the registration desk, the DRO must verify the voucher's ID again.
Vouching Form Register
After polling day, the RO is required to create a list with the names and addresses of electors who were vouched for.
This is done by preparing the Vouching Forms Register (EC 50056) after the close of polls on every day of advance polls (and after the close of polls on polling night).
After the close of polls on each day of advance polls, the vouching forms (EC 50055) will be returned to the office in the Office Documents Bag (EC 50390). These forms must be given to the clerk who, as soon as possible, must retrieve the register from the Field Personnel Intranet, and then:
- Open the Office Documents Bag
- Write the information from the vouching forms (EC 50055) in the Vouching Forms Register (EC 50056)
The clerk is to transcribe the information to the Register on a daily basis. When all forms have been processed, place them in order by polling station with the Vouching Form Register to be returned to EC in Lot 104.
Verifying acceptable proof of identity and address
All electors must provide acceptable proof of identity and address to the DRO before being given a ballot. Acceptable ways to prove identity and address are listed in section 6.3 of this manual.
The Have your ID ready to vote pad (EC 90189), which shows the acceptable options for proof of identification and address, will be provided by the CEO within three days of the issue of the writ.
Elector appeals the requirement to make a declaration
If an elector refuses to make a declaration because it is not required under the CEA, the elector may appeal to the RO. If, after consultation with the DRO of the polling station, the RO decides that the elector is not required to make a declaration, and if the elector is entitled to vote in the polling division, the RO shall direct that the person be allowed to do so.
The RO should delegate all CPSs to decide whether the elector needs to make a declaration. Only one Delegation of Authority (EC 10090) is required for all CPSs in an ED.
11.2.5 Sequence Number Sheet – Advance polls
The DRO for an advance poll must provide the RO with the identity of electors who voted on every advance polling day (except for those electors who registered on the same day that they voted) after the closing of the advance polling station. This is done with the Sequence Number Sheet – Advance Polls (EC 50109).
DROs are not required to enter electors registering at the polls on sequence number sheets because these electors do not have a sequence number. Candidates will receive information about electors who registered and voted at the advance polls from the Official List of Electors produced for polling day.
At the end of each advance polling day, the DRO or CPS sends the completed or partially completed forms to you in the Office Documents Bag (EC 50390).
At your office, as soon as possible, the original Sequence Number Sheet – Advance Polls must be taken out of the Office Documents Bag.
Each day following advance polls, you will provide candidates, through the PESC, a copy of the sequence number sheet for each advance poll from the day before. For information on processing sequence number sheets, consult Volume III of this manual, section 2.9.1 Sequence number sheets.
Sort all the sequence number sheets – advance polls (EC10109) returned from the advance polls and place them in one Large All-Purpose Envelope (EC11520) for a given day. Write “Sequence Number Sheets from Advance Polls” and the day (Friday, Saturday, Sunday or Monday) on the outside of the envelope.
You should have four large all-purpose envelopes labelled, one for each day, containing the sequence number sheets from the advance polls.
11.2.6 Record of Electors
At advance polls, the DRO completes the Record of Electors (EC 50080) by recording the elector information, and checking if a Registration Certificate (EC 50050) was required.
Entries are to indicate the polling division number (not advance polling division) for the elector and the sequence number appearing opposite the name on the list. This identifies that the elector's sequence number is unique to the polling division, not the advance poll. This information is required to update REVISE so that the correct elector can be struck as having voted at the advance poll. The election officer guidebooks contain more detailed information.
Under no circumstances are copies or photocopies of the Record of Electors (EC 50080) to be given to candidates or candidates' representatives.
To update REVISE and the Official Lists of Electors at the end of each advance polling day, provide the SPS with:
- all registration certificates (EC 50050)
- all correction forms (EC 50049)
- all voting status certificates (EC 50051)
- the completed Record of Electors (EC 50080)
After processing the registration certificates and the correction forms, the SPS must place them back in their original Office Documents Bag.
Once the SPS processes the Record of Electors, these documents must be returned in the Envelope: White Copy of Record of Electors (EC 50386) by advance poll number and day.
11.3 Procedures at ordinary polls
Since you may be asked questions or may need to provide clarifications on various aspects of voting, you must be familiar with the detailed proceedings for voting on polling day.
Election officers and CPSs are encouraged to call you when an uncertainty or problem arises. Any instructions you transmit to election officers of central polling places are conveyed through the CPS.
11.3.2 Sequence number sheets
At 60-minute intervals, the DRO must provide a document to candidates' representatives, which allows them to identify electors who voted on polling day (except for the identity of those electors who registered on the same day they voted). This information appears on the Sequence Number Sheet (EC 50111). This form has three carbon copies; the original must remain in the appropriate envelope.
To obtain this information, the candidate or official agent must appoint a representative by completing and providing that representative with the Authorization of a Candidate's Representative (EC 20020).
The CPS at the first polling place a representative visits in the ED receives the Authorization of a Candidate's Representative (EC 20020) and the representative’s declaration, and signs the form. This form is then exchanged for a Candidate Representative Badge that representatives must wear at all times when observing at the polls. If they lose their badge, they must obtain and complete a new authorization form (EC 20020) to receive another badge.
On polling night, the Envelope: Sequence Number Sheet (EC 50385) will be returned to the office in the Office Documents Bag (EC 50390). As soon as possible on Day –1, this information will need to be processed. Refer to Volume III of this manual, section 2.9.1 Sequence number sheets.
11.3.3 Declined ballots
In some provinces, an elector may cast a protest vote by declining a ballot. Note that this does not exist at the federal level.
If the elector refuses to go behind the voting screen (and therefore declines the ballot), the elector simply hands the ballot back to the DRO without marking it. The DRO removes and destroys the counterfoil and places the unmarked ballot in the ballot box. This ballot will be rejected at the count.
In this case, the DRO will cross the elector's name off the list of electors and put a check in the “Voted” column against the elector's name on the list.
The procedure is described in detail in the Deputy Returning Officer Guidebook – Serving Electors (EC 50300)
11.3.4 Polling place attendees
The only persons entitled to be present at a polling station or in the area where electors are casting their ballots are:
- one DRO for each polling station
- one or more registration officers, if appointed
- a security guard, if appointed
- an elector (only until the elector has voted)
- a person who has come with an elector who requires assistance to vote (only for the period necessary to help the elector vote)
- one or more appointed CPSs
- one or more appointed IOs
- an appointed interpreter
- the candidates
- two representatives of each candidate, or in their absence, two electors to represent each candidate
- one representative for each candidate at the registration desk
- any observer or member of the CEO's staff authorized to be present (the RO will need to advise the election officers in this case)
- auditors engaged by the CEO to perform an audit and report compliance with procedures at polling places
- the RO or a person the RO has delegated
Candidates and their representatives must sign in and out at the polling place on the Visitor Log (EC 50428). Observers authorized by the CEO will be required to sign the Visitor Log with the CPS.
Film crews and photographers at a polling place
Generally, it is forbidden for the media to enter a polling place. With prior RO approval, the media may take photographs from the door entrance only if they do not interfere with the voting process.
If the polling station is established for a polling division of an ED in which a leader of a registered party is a candidate, any media representative who, subject to any conditions that the CEO considers necessary to protect the integrity of the vote and the privacy of any person present at the polling station, is authorized in writing by the CEO to be present and take any photograph or make any video recording of the candidates as they cast their votes.
ECHQ will contact you if this applies to your ED.
11.4 Procedures at mobile polls
Standard procedures are found in the Deputy Returning Officer Guidebook – Serving Electors (EC 50300).
11.4.1 Voting procedure in institutions/residences
At a polling station that is established in an institution for people who are elderly, sick or disabled, the DRO must (with the approval of institution administrator) carry the ballot box, ballots and other necessary election documents from room to room to allow bedridden and ordinarily resident electors in the polling division in which the institution is situated to vote.
Electors living in long-term care facilities and seniors' residences may use photocopies of their ID to register or vote, or both.
The DRO must give electors the assistance necessary to enable them to vote.
As with ordinary polls, two representatives of each candidate may be present at a mobile polling station. However, when a ballot box is taken from bed to bed, only one representative of each candidate may accompany the election officers.
The mobile poll station must remain open during the hours indicated in the Notice of Mobile Poll, even if all the identified electors have voted since there may be other electors who are eligible to register to vote.
11.4.2 Sequence Number Sheet
For mobile polls, the provisions in the CEA are supplemented where relevant by instructions from the CEO. These procedures for submitting forms to candidates' representatives apply only to mobile polls.
The procedures for mobile polls are the same as the ones described for ordinary polls. However, the DRO must use a new Sequence Number Sheet (EC 50111) and start the new interval at the opening of a new location.
11.4.3 Counting ballots
Mobile poll DROs and the election officer assigned to support counting will count the results in the place specified in the Notice of Mobile Poll.