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Chapter 4 – Boundaries, polling places and the Voter information card (08/2021)

4.1 Boundaries

4.1.1 Electoral district

The boundaries of an electoral district (ED) are normally readjusted following each decennial census, pursuant to the Constitution Act and the Electoral Boundaries Readjustment Act. The exercise is called the readjustment of the federal electoral boundaries.

4.1.2 Polling division

An ED is divided into territorial areas called polling divisions. A polling division is the geographical area on a map where electors reside. All neighbourhoods within an ED are grouped into polling divisions and numbered.

There are three different typed of polling divisions you will need to review:

  1. Ordinary polling divisions (numbered 1–399)
  2. Mobile polling divisions (500 series)
  3. Single-building polling divisions (400 series)

At least one voting desk serves each polling division. These voting desks are commonly referred to as polling stations, although the changes to the law brought about by Bill C-76 changed the meaning of "polling station." Consult section 7.7 Managing ordinary polls for more details

The RO is responsible for revising polling division boundaries as instructed by the CEO.

4.1.3 Advance polling district

Advance polling districts (600 series) are territorial units made up of one or more polling divisions.

Elections Canada Headquarters (ECHQ) directs you to establish advance polling districts. Each advance polling district is served by a voting desk.

4.1.4 Mobile polling station

Until confirmation is provided by federal, provincial/territorial and local public health authorities that the risks of the pandemic have been significantly reduced, traditional mobile polling stations (i.e., teams visiting two facilities on the same day) should not be planned for the foreseeable future (e.g., not until fall 2021 or spring 2022).

The procedures below should not be considered in pre-event planning or event delivery during a pandemic. For information on how to administer voting in seniorís residences and/or long-term care facilities for the 44th GE, consult the General election in a pandemic or post-pandemic situation page, as well as the Event+ page in RODS.

A mobile polling station is a type of ordinary poll created on polling day for multiple institutions where seniors or persons with a disability reside. It is created for people who would find it difficult or impossible to vote outside their residence on polling day. The mobile polling station travels between institutions. For more information on mobile polls, consult section 11.4 Procedures at mobile polls.

4.2 Polling places

The selection of polling places is a pre-event activity that you lead. Policies and key principles are outlined in Volume I, Chapter 6 – Selecting polling places. In law, the entire polling place is now called a polling station.

4.2.1 Polling stations

Dimensions of a polling station

Figure 10 illustrates an example of a central poll. It shows that chairs are set up for candidates' representatives and shows a reasonable amount of space between the chairs and tables to allow wheelchair access.

Ensure a distance of 3 feet (one metre) for wheelchair access between the tables and representatives' seats.

4.2.2 Modifying polling place information

You are responsible for maintaining and ensuring the accuracy of polling place information in iSITES and/or ROPS/SITES.

Use the Polling Place Suitability Checklist (EC 12152) to note changes to the accessibility, technology or security criteria at the polling place and enter the modifications directly into iSITES or ROPS/SITES. As stated in the Communicating accessibility information to electors section in Volume I of this manual, the information from the 15 mandatory accessibility criteria for each polling place in iSITES or ROPS/SITES will be displayed on the EC website under the Voter Information Service tab. As well, the Suitability Checklist is read by REVISE to populate the accessibility statement on the Voter Information Card (VIC). The accuracy of polling place information is critical to the integrity of delivering accessibility information to electors about their polling place.

4.2.3 Polling places not visited during pre-event assignments

After the issue of the writ, you will need to designate someone in the office to visit and evaluate polling places that were not evaluated using the Polling Place Suitability Checklist (EC 12152) during pre-event, including sites used in past events. As well, remote polling places will need to be visited and evaluated using the Checklist by someone nearer the community (e.g. AARO, training officer, CPS, POM, etc.). The Checklist should be returned to your attention so that you can modify or update the suitability criteria in iSITES or ROPS/SITES prior to confirming sites and approving VICs.

For questions or clarification, contact the FSN (How to reach us).

4.2.4 Replacing a lost polling place during an event

If you lose a polling place you must identify a new polling place and reassign the polling divisions in iSITES or ROPS/SITES as soon as possible. You should first look in the database to see if an alternate site, which was previously visited and evaluated for suitability during pre-event assignments, is available. If not, complete the following steps:

  1. Identify a new potential polling place that is familiar and, if possible, in close proximity to the electors.
  2. Visit and evaluate the polling place using the Polling Place Suitability Checklist (EC 12152).
  3. If suitable and available for rent, add the new polling place to iSITES or ROPS/SITES.
    • Accuracy of information in iSITES or ROPS/SITES is critical to the delivery of information (including accessibility criteria) to electors about their polling place
    • Ensure that all information (address, spelling of building name, etc.) and accessibility criteria are accurate; these details will appear on the VIC and on EC's website.
    • Accessibility icons will be published on the VIC and the accessibility answers will be published on the Voter Information Service page on EC's website.
  4. Remove/unassign the polling divisions from the lost site and add/assign the polling divisions to the new polling place.
  5. Generate the Polling Place Standard Lease (EC 11750) in iSITES or ROPS/SITES.
    • Ensure that the correct polling stations appear on the Lease.
  6. Send an unsigned copy of the Lease (via email) to the landlord as described in section 2.6 Polling place leases and payments. Request that the landlord return the signed lease to you as soon as possible.
  7. Once the landlord returns the signed Lease to you, confirm the site in iSITES or ROPS/SITES.

If the polling place is lost after VICs are approved, please advise the FSN as soon as possible.

For assistance with replacing a lost polling place during the event, contact the FSN.

4.3 Record of Decision

While EC establishes selection criteria, the responsibility of selecting polling places ultimately rests with you. You must complete a Record of Decision for each polling place (excluding mobile polls and single building polls) to justify and explain the elements that were considered when selecting a polling place. This includes polling places that were added as replacement sites during an event.

The Record of Decision must be generated and submitted using the iSITES application. Original/printed copies do not need to be sent to ECHQ. For further information on how to complete a Record of Decision, consult the iSITES User's Guide for Returning Officers (EC 10236).

Record of Decision forms cannot be completed in ROPS/SITES. To submit a Record of Decision form after the SITES download, complete the PDF version available in ECDocs and send it to the FSN.

4.4 Voter information card

The Voter information card (VIC) is mailed:

  • After the issue of the writ but no later than Day 24, to every elector whose name appears on the preliminary list of electors (PLE), subject to certain exceptions
  • As early as possible during the revision period, but no later than the 5th day before polling day, to every elector whose name has been added to the PLE during the revision period (subject to certain exceptions) as well as to any elector whose information has been revised since the issuance of the PLE

The front of the VIC displays instructions to the elector, his name and his mailing address. The generic phrase: "or to the elector", is also printed.

The back of the VIC displays the following information related to voting:

  • ED name
  • Information about the ordinary poll including date, hours, polling station number, location and accessibility information
  • Information about advance poll including number, dates, hours, location and accessibility information
  • Deadline to apply to vote by special ballot (Day 6 at 6:00 p.m.); the special ballot is described as "other ways to vote" on the VIC
  • Deadline to ask for an interpreter
  • Address and phone number of the RO office

4.5 Preparing the Voter information cards for printing

4.5.1 Centralized VIC printing process

The printing and mailing of the VIC are centralized processes undertaken by ECHQ. However, the RO office plays a critical role in reviewing and approving VICs to be printed. These responsibilities are shared between you and your AC.

You are responsible for:

  • Contacting the Canada Post representative (by Day 28) before the VICs are mailed out to confirm that undelivered VICs will be returned to the office (RO or AARO)
  • Confirming the availability of polling places and signing leases
  • Receiving signed leases from the landlords
  • Confirming the accuracy of polling place addresses and accessibility information in ROPS/SITES
    • Ensuring the accuracy of the information in iSITES or ROPS/SITES is critical to the integrity of the accessibility information delivered to electors about their polling place
  • Reviewing and approving the voting information on the back of the VIC for each polling place and polling station in REVISE (if required ask the AC to do this)

The AC is responsible for:

  • Approving VICs to be printed in REVISE
  • Aiding in reviewing and approving the back of the VIC in REVISE (providing printed proofs for RO to review and approve or perform the task as delegated)
  • Assigning mobile polling stations to mobile polling places in REVISE
  • Generating Replacement Card VICs (if required) in REVISE

Variations of the VIC

There are three categories of VICs sent out to electors:

  • Initial PLE VICs: The bulk of VICs, which are sent out to electors registered to vote on the PLE. After the writ is issued, ECHQ generates the PLE. The elector information from this list is used to produce the initial PLE VICs.
  • VICs for revised or added electors: Any electors whose information has been added to or revised on the PLE can request to receive a VIC after the mail out of initial PLE VICs.
  • Replacement Card VICs: A rare VIC created under special circumstances for electors whose polling place becomes unavailable and has changed as a result after the mailing of the initial VIC. This VIC includes a "Replacement Card" text box.

4.5.2 Scheduling initial VICs to be printed from the Preliminary List of Electors

Before approving VICs for a poll, the following conditions must be met:

  • A confirmed advance polling site (in ROPS/SITES)
  • A confirmed ordinary polling site (in ROPS/SITES)
  • A confirmed office (in ROPS/SITES)
  • All 15 mandatory accessibility criteria confirmed for the sites (in ROPS/SITES)
  • A reviewed and approved back of the VIC (in REVISE)

Once a VIC is approved, the "scheduling" or "ordering" of VICs is automated in REVISE. Approvals can only be done at the polling station level and the procedure spans several days. However, you are to begin approving VICs as soon as the systems are set up and polling places are confirmed.

Printing initial PLE VICs will occur between Days 33 to 27 and the PLE VICs will be stored at the commercial printers' facilities until Day 26 at which point the commercial printers begin shipping the initial PLE VICs to Canada Post. The shipment from the printer to Canada Post will take place between Days 26 to 24.

Verifying voting information on the back of the VIC

It is critical that you meticulously review the voting information on the back of the VIC before any polling station VICs can be approved for printing. This is done using the VIC management module in REVISE. There are many lists available to facilitate verifying voting information. Refer to the following lists from ROPS/SITES and REVISE:

In ROPS/SITES:

  • List of Polling Sites (Expanded)
    • This report lists all facilities by polling station. Facilities with multiple polls are broken down by poll number, duplicating the facility's address.
    • The report is sorted by poll number in ascending order.
  • List of Polling Sites (Condensed)
    • This report is sorted by facility name in ascending order and displays all polls assigned within the facility.

In REVISE:

  • Report 03-060 Polling Station Report
    • This report contains the number of electors on the list for each poll. This report is also used to view merged and split polling divisions.

Reviewing and approving a VIC for printing in REVISE

When the details for each polling station have been closely verified, approve the back of the VIC in REVISE. Because VIC printing is a time sensitive process, do not wait until all the polling stations are confirmed before beginning to review and approve VICs. For example, if 50 polling stations are confirmed on Day 32, you or your AC will approve only those polling stations, so that these corresponding VICs can be printed.

To approve the VIC to be printed using REVISE:

  1. On the Administration menu, select VIC Management.
  2. Within the listing of Polling Stations Available for VIC Production, select the polling station to review by clicking Not approved in the Preview column.
  3. Review the information on the back of the VIC.
    • If any polling site information is incorrect, click Reject and make the necessary changes in ROPS/SITES. When polling site information is changed in ROPS/SITES, the updates become available shortly thereafter in REVISE.
  4. When the information is accurate, click Accept.
  5. Verify that Approved is now listed in the Preview column for the selected polling station.
Figure 4 Voter information card (back)

Figure 4 Voter information card (back)

Text version of "Figure 4 Voter information card (back)"

This figure shows the back of a Voter Information Card with the following information, in both official languages:

  • Name of the electoral district
  • Election Day date and place with accessibility symbol (wheelchair accessible)
  • Dates of advance voting days and their location (wheelchair accessible)
  • Other ways to vote (EC office, by mail)
  • Text telling the elector where to go and deadline to obtain assistance, including language or sign language interpreter)
  • The address of the local RO office, the toll-free number and the TTY toll-free number

Polling stations listed at the bottom half of the VIC Management screen are not yet available for approval and require additional work.

When VICs for a polling station are approved for printing, the system signals ECHQ to generate the VICs for that polling station. Each time VICs are generated for an approved polling station, the Sent to printer date and time will be updated, and the # to be mailed column will be set to zero. This indicates that ECHQ generated VICs and sent them for printing.

The VICs printing order for a polling station cannot be cancelled after it is scheduled for printing. If polling place information changes after it is scheduled, call the FSN immediately.

Approving VICs for mobile polls (500-series polls)

A mobile poll is created to visit institutions where electors have limited mobility. The institution is typically the elector's ordinary residence. Because a single mobile poll visits more than one institution, it is very important to ensure that each elector is associated with the correct institution.

Before approving VICs for mobile polls, the AC will need to perform a few steps in REVISE to ensure that the proper VIC goes to each elector. This is done using the "Assign Mobile Polling Stations" screen in REVISE. The AC will use the interactive tool to link the elector's building address to the institution address of the mobile polling place which originates in ROPS/SITES.

In 99% of all cases, the elector's building address is nearly identical to the mobile poll site address. As mobile polling place information comes from ROPS/SITES and electoral mailing information comes from REVISE, this step is critical to link the two systems.

Ensure the hours of each mobile polling place appear accurately on the back of VIC.

VIC Order History Report

The VIC Order History Report in REVISE provides summary information pertaining to the approved VICs generated for a polling station by ECHQ, such as dates, status, polling station identifiers and number of electors.

You or your AC can run the VIC Order History Report at any time.

Producing replacement VICs

If a polling place becomes unavailable after the VICs for that site have been generated and sent to the printer, a Replacement Card VIC must be sent to electors of any affected polling divisions. To do so, request an authorization by calling the FSN. Be sure to follow the specific instructions in the REVISE User's Guide to reissue VICs with the updated polling place information and a "Replacement Card" text box.

A Replacement Card VIC differs from the original VIC. This card includes a text box "Replacement Card / Carte de replacement" at the bottom right corner to indicate that the card is different from the first VIC that was mailed out. See the figure below for a Replacement VIC sample.

Figure 5 Replacement Voter information card (sample)

Figure 5	Replacement Voter information card (sample)

Text version of "Figure 5 Replacement Voter information card (sample)"

This figure shows the front of a Voter Information Card, with the mention « Replacement Card », in both official languages.

Producing VICs for added or revised electors

After the initial PLE VICs are mailed out, electors who are added to the List of Electors will receive a VIC. Electors who modified their information during the revision period may request to receive a VIC. ECHQ conducts the process solely to generate the VICs for added or revised electors.

VICs for added or revised electors will be generated by ECHQ only after you have approved the transactions using the Approve Pending Transactions screen in REVISE. You must approve or reject all transactions daily.

4.5.3 Returned VICs

VICs may be returned to your office for two reasons: either 1) the address is unknown or incorrect; or 2) the elector has refused to accept a card bearing someone else's name.

Elections Canada has instructed Canada Post not to forward VICs to electors who have moved; this group of VICs represents the largest number of returns. This includes electors who are registered with Canada Post's National Change of Address system to have their mail forwarded to their new address.

A returned VIC is a critical piece of the electoral event strategy and action is required to deal with it. You must manually count the returned VICs and enter the total number in the Undelivered VICs ledger that follows. These figures will be used to answer the questions in the Integrated Management Portal located on the Field Personnel Intranet.

You then give all undelivered VICs to the SPS who will then analyze them to determine whether or not they may be corrected. These VICs should be sorted by reason for return and the addresses verified as necessary. Targeted revision may be required if many VICs are returned from one area. If it is apparent that Canada Post is not meeting expectations in delivering VICs, you may reach out to the Canada Post local representative. After the SPS is finished analyzing the returned VICs, he is to return those VICs to you, who will retain undelivered VICs and return them to ECHQ after the event. Once the VIC is corrected in the system, it is to be reprinted and remailed to the elector.

C7 Undelivered VICs ledger

When Canada Post returns VICs to your office, either from the initial mailing or initiated by revision activities, track the number of VICs returned for each of the reasons indicated below, and report the numbers in the Integrated Management Portal (IMP).

DAY REASON
Unknown or incorrect address VIC refused by the occupant Occupant or elector has moved
Total Today Cumulative to date (A) Total Today Cumulative to date (B) Total Today Cumulative to date (C)
25            
24            
21            
20            
19            
18            
17            
14            
13            
12            
11            
10            
7            
6