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Safeguards to Deal with Emergencies and Incidents

The federal electoral process has many safeguards, including measures to deal with emergencies and unforeseen situations that could disrupt voting.

Focusing on delivering the election

Elections Canada's focus is on administering the election, as prescribed by the Canada Elections Act. If anything goes wrong during an election, Elections Canada will continue to:

  • remain non-partisan
  • do everything in its power to ensure the integrity of the election
  • protect Canadians' rights to register, vote and be a candidate
  • act within our legal mandate, powers and accountabilities
  • collaborate with the national security agencies and local police forces, which play a role in managing the particular type of incident at hand

If there is an incident that could affect Canadians' right or ability to vote or impact the electoral process, the Chief Electoral Officer will speak directly to Canadians and inform them of the steps he is taking to address it.

Dealing with voting disruptions

The Chief Electoral Officer, the head of Elections Canada, has various legal powers to deal with emergencies, such as a major power outage or flood, which could disrupt voting.

For example, if a polling station has to close for some time because of a gas leak, the Chief Electoral Officer could use his power to extend voting to make up for the lost time.

Dealing with more widespread problems within an electoral district

In extreme situations, where the Chief Electoral Officer deems that it is practically impossible for Elections Canada to administer the election in one or more ridings, he could recommend that the election be postponed up to a week or even start over. This has never happened in Elections Canada's more than 100 years of history.