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Technology and the Voting Process

Appendix B: Voting Technologies and the Canada Elections Act

In the following table, we identify those sections of the Canada Elections Act which are impacted by the electronic voting options (telephone, Internet and kiosk).

On reflection, and after consultation with Elections Canada officials, we have concluded that amendments to the Act as listed would only serve to complicate an already difficult and complicated piece of legislation. In fact, the Act is so intrinsically linked to the current process that changes would need to be sweeping and widespread. The better course, if Parliament were considering amendments to allow for the possibility of electronic voting, would be to write a new schedule of the Act to permit for electronic voting, and under terms and conditions, Parliament deemed appropriate as is the case for special voting rules.

Process Phases Applicable sections of the Canada Elections Act
1. Registration confirmation

Elector declaration – Section 120

120(1) Each elector, on entering the room where the poll is held, shall declare the elector's name and address whereupon the poll clerk shall ascertain if the name of the elector appears on the official list of electors used at the polling station.

120(2) When it has been ascertained that an elector is qualified to vote at a polling station,

(a) the electors name shall be struck off the list of electors; and

(b) the elector shall immediately be allowed to vote, unless an election officer or any agent of a candidate present at the polling station desires that the elector first show proof of identity or take an oath of qualifications.

Manner of voting – Section 131

131(1) An elector, before receiving a ballot paper from the DRO, shall give his name and address

(a) to the DRO and poll clerk; and

(b) on request, to an agent of a candidate.

131(4) When an elector has been given a ballot paper, no one shall require the elector to show proof of identity or take an oath.

2. Ballot options

Manner of voting – Section 130

130(1) Voting shall be by ballot, and each elector shall receive from the DRO a ballot paper, on the back of which that officer has, as prescribed by subsections 117(2) to 117(4), affixed his initials, so placed, as indicated on the back of Form 3, that when the ballot paper is folded the initials can be seen without unfolding the ballot paper.

130(2) The DRO shall instruct each elector how and where to affix his mark, shall properly fold the elector's ballot paper and shall return the elector to return the ballot paper when marked and folded as directed.

Manner of voting – Section 133

133 An elector who has inadvertently dealt with the ballot paper delivered to him in such a manner that it cannot conveniently be used shall return it to the DRO who shall

(a) deface it in such a manner as to render it a spoiled ballot, and

(b) deliver another ballot to the elector.

133(1) An elector is entitled to receive another ballot paper pursuant to section 133 on not more than one occasion.

3. Casting of decision

Manner of voting – Sub-section 132(1)

132.1 An elector shall, after receiving a ballot,

(a) proceed directly to the voting compartment;

(b) use the pencil provided, or any other pencil or pen, to make a cross, or other mark that clearly indicates the elector's choice, in the circular space provided on the ballot opposite the name of the candidate;

(c) fold the ballot as instructed by the DRO so that the initials on the back of the folded ballot and the serial number on the back of the stub are visible without unfolding the ballot; and

(d) return the ballot to the DRO.

132.2 The DRO shall, on receiving the ballot from the elector, (a) without unfolding the ballot, verify that it is the same one that was handed to the elector by examining the initials and serial number on the back of the ballot.

4. Ballot verification and anonymity of the elector

Manner of voting – Sub-section 132(2)

132(2) The DRO shall, on receiving the ballot from the elector; (b) remove and destroy the counterfoil in full view of the elector and all other persons present.

5. Ballot submission

Manner of voting – Section 132

132.2 The DRO shall, on receiving the ballot from the elector; (c) return the ballot to the elector who deposits it in the ballot box or, if the elector so requests, the DRO shall deposit the ballot in the ballot box.

Proceedings at the poll?Section 125 125 Each poll clerk shall (b) indicate on the prescribed form opposite the name of each elector, as soon as the elector's ballot paper has been deposited in the ballot box, that the elector has voted.

Manner of voting – Section 137

137(1) Every elector shall vote without undue delay and shall leave the polling station as soon as his ballot paper has been put in the ballot box.

6. Tabulation of votes

Counting and reporting the votes – Section 160, 161, 162 & 163

160(1) Immediately after the close of the poll, in the presence and in full view of the poll clerk and the candidates and their agents, or, if the candidates or any of them are absent, in the presence of those candidates that are present, and of at least two electors if none of the candidates are represented, the DRO shall, in the following order,

(a) count the number of electors who have voted, make an entry on the line immediately below the name of the last elector on the list that states "The number of electors who voted at this election in this polling station is (stating the number)," and sign the list;

(b) count the spoiled ballot papers, if any, place them in the special envelope supplied for that purpose, indicate thereon the number of spoiled ballot papers and seal it up;

(c) count the unused ballot papers undetached from the books of ballot papers, place them with all the stubs of all used ballot papers in the special envelope supplied for that purpose and indicate thereon the number of unused ballot papers;

(d) check the number of ballot papers supplied by the returning officer against the number of spoiled ballot papers, if any, the number of unused ballot papers and the number of electors from the list indicated as having voted, in order to ascertain that all ballot papers are accounted for;

(e) open the ballot box and empty its contents on a table; and

(f) count the number of votes given the each candidate on one of the tally sheets supplied, given full opportunity to those present to examine each ballot paper.

160(2) The poll clerk and as many as three witnesses shall be supplied with a tally sheet on which they may keep their own score as each vote is called out by the DRO.

161(1) In counting the votes, the DRO shall reject all ballot papers

(a) that have not been supplied to him;

(b) that have not been marked for any candidate;

(c) on which votes have been given for more than one candidate;

(d) that have not been marked in the small circular space, on which the natural colour of the paper appears, at the right of the name of the candidate; or

(e) on which there is any writing or mark by which the elector could be identified.

161(2) No ballot paper shall be rejected pursuant to subsection (1) by reason only that

(a) it has on it any writing, number or mark placed thereon by any DRO; or

(b) it has been marked with a writing instrument other than a black lead pencil or with a mark other than a cross, if the mark does not constitute identification of the elector.

161(3) Where, in the course of counting the votes, any ballot paper is found with the counterfoil still attached thereto, the DRO shall, while carefully concealing the number thereon from all persons present and without examining it himself, remove and destroy the counterfoil.

162(1) Where in the course of counting the votes, a DRO discovers that he has omitted to affix his initials to the back of any ballot paper, as required by subsections 117(2) to (4) and 130(1) and as indicated on Form 3, he shall, in the presence of the poll clerk and the agents of the candidates, affix his initials to the ballot paper and count the ballot paper as if it had been initialed in the first place, if he is satisfied that

(a) the ballot paper is one that has been supplied to him;

(b) an omission has really been made; and

(c) every ballot paper supplied to him by the returning officer has been accounted for, as required by paragraph 160(1)(d).

163(1) Each DRO shall

(a) keep a record, on the prescribed form, of every objection made by any candidate or the candidate's agent, to any ballot paper found in the ballot box; and

(b) decide every question arising out of the objection.

7. Retention and storage

Counting and reporting the votes – Sections 164 & 165

164(1) All ballot papers that are not rejected by a DRO shall be counted and a list kept of the number of votes given to each candidate and of the number of rejected ballot papers as follows:

(a) ballot papers that respectively indicate the votes given for each candidate shall be put into separate envelopes;

(b) all rejected ballot papers shall be put into a special envelope;

(c) all envelopes referred to in paragraphs (a) and (b) shall be endorsed so as to indicate their contents and shall be sealed by the DRO; and

(d) the DRO and the poll clerk shall affix their signatures to the seal and such agents or witnesses present as may desire to do so may sign their names thereon.

165(1) Each DRO shall make the necessary number of copies of the statement of the poll in the prescribed form as follows:

(a) one copy shall be delivered to the returning officer with the ballot box;

(b) one copy, for the returning officer, shall be enclosed in a special envelope supplied for the purpose, sealed by the DRO and deposited separately in the ballot box; and

(c) one copy shall be delivered to each of the candidate's agents present at the count.

165(2) The envelopes containing the unused, rejected or spoiled ballot papers, or those counted for each candidate, each lot in its proper envelope, the envelope containing the official list of electors and other documents used at the poll shall be placed in the large envelope supplied for the purpose, which shall be immediately sealed and placed in the ballot box with, but not enclosing, the envelope containing the statement of the poll prepared for the returning officer and referred to in subsection (1) and the envelope containing the registration certificates.

165(3) The ballot box is to be sealed with the seals prescribed by the Chief Electoral Officer for the use of the DRO and forthwith transmitted to the returning officer.