More MS news articles for November 2000

Voting by Special Ballot

Now is a good time to set the wheels in motion to vote in the November 27 Canadian election.  Here is what Elections Canada has to say...

http://www.elections.ca/content.asp?section=gen&document=ec90540&dir=bkg&lang=e&textonly=false

(See also Voting by Special Ballot in By-elections, EC 90706)

Special Voting Rules

Any elector who does not wish to vote at a polling station during an election or referendum may vote by mail or in person at the office of his or her returning officer, using a special ballot. This method of voting is governed by the Special Voting Rules, Part 11 of the Canada Elections Act. The Special Voting Rules apply to the following categories of electors:

In all these cases, the elector must have a Canadian address for electoral purposes and his or her vote is counted for that riding. A Special Voting Rules Administrator appointed by the Chief Electoral Officer oversees voting by special ballot.

General principles

To vote under the Special Voting Rules, the elector must:

The special ballot takes precedence. Once an elector is registered to vote by special ballot in an electoral event, he or she cannot vote in any other way. Thus, he or she cannot vote at an ordinary or advance poll. The only exception is that Canadian Forces electors may choose to vote in person at a civilian polling station, if they are living in the riding in which they are registered. They can do so only if they have not already voted under the Special Voting Rules. For further details, consult the backgrounder Voting by Special Ballot for Canadian Forces Electors, EC 90550.

Elections Canada draws up the voters lists of those registered to vote by special ballot (other than Canadian Forces electors and electors residing temporarily outside the country), in each polling division in each riding, and sends them to the returning officers before the advance polls and again before polling day. These lists contain the surname, given name, civic address and mailing address of electors who have received a special ballot. To prevent these electors from voting twice, the returning officers strike their names from the voters lists for their ridings.

Everyone who votes under the Special Voting Rules uses a voting kit that comprises:

An elector may vote only once during an electoral event. In the case of an election, the elector may vote only for a candidate in his or her riding.

CATEGORIES OF ELECTORS AND MANNER OF VOTING BY SPECIAL BALLOT

1. Canadian residents absent from their ridings

Canadians who have reached the age of 18 and who live in Canada but who expect to be absent from their ridings, either in Canada or abroad, during polling may vote by special ballot.

Registration

Electors must register as soon as possible after an electoral event has been called by sending Elections Canada an Application for Registration and Special Ballot form. This form may be requested in person, by mail, by telephone or by fax from the office of the returning officer or from Elections Canada in Ottawa. It may also be downloaded from this Web site.

To exercise the right to vote, the elector must send the completed application to Elections Canada in Ottawa, so that it is received before 6:00 p.m., Ottawa time, on the sixth day before polling day. The application may be sent by fax. It must be accompanied by a proof of identity and a proof of residence in Canada: either a single document bearing the elector's name, address and signature (such as a driver's licence) or a combination of two documents, one with the elector's name and address (such as a utilities bill) and the other bearing the elector's name and signature (such as an ID card). Elections Canada verifies the elector's identity and determines his or her riding.

Manner of voting

Once the elector's application is approved, Elections Canada sends back a personalized voting kit.

In the case of an election, the elector must obtain the names of the candidates in his or her riding. These names can be found on the Elections Canada Web site (www.elections.ca) or obtained from the Elections Canada Enquiries Unit or from Canadian diplomatic and consular missions after the candidates have been confirmed, on the 19th day before polling day. A list of the candidates in the elector's riding may be included in the voting kit if the kit is sent after the candidates have been confirmed, on the 19th day before polling day.

In the case of a referendum, each referendum question is printed on a separate ballot.

To vote, the elector must first complete and sign the declaration on the outer envelope that forms part of the voting kit. The declaration states that the elector's name is as shown on the envelope and that he or she has not already voted in the election underway. The elector then completes the ballot by writing on it the name of one of the candidates in his or her riding or, in the case of a referendum, by checking either "yes" or "no" and then inserting the ballot into the series of envelopes in accordance with the instructions provided.

Finally, the elector is responsible for ensuring that Elections Canada in Ottawa receives the ballot no later than 6:00 p.m., Ottawa time, on polling day. The ballot must be sent in the envelopes provided. A ballot received by any other means, including fax, will not be counted. The Act also prohibits counting ballots received after the deadline.

2. Canadian residents voting in their ridings

Canadians who have reached the age of 18 and who, during an electoral event, does not wish to vote at an advance or ordinary poll, may vote by special ballot in their own ridings.

Registration

Electors must register as soon as possible after an electoral event has been called, by sending Elections Canada an Application for Registration and Special Ballot form. This form may be requested in person, by mail, by telephone or by fax from the office of the returning officer.

To exercise the right to vote during an electoral event underway, the elector must send the completed application so that it is received at the office of the returning officer before 6:00 p.m., local time, on the sixth day before polling day. The application may be sent by fax. It must be accompanied by a proof of identity and proof of residence in Canada: either a single document bearing the elector's name, address and signature (such as a driver's licence) or a combination of two documents, one with the elector's name and address (such as a utilities bill) and the other bearing the elector's name and signature (such as an ID card). The elector's identity and riding are verified in the office of the returning officer.

Manner of voting

Once the application is approved, the registered elector receives a voting kit.

The elector must obtain the names of the candidates in his or her riding. These names can be found on the Elections Canada Web site (www.elections.ca) or obtained from the Elections Canada Enquiries Unit or the office of the returning officer in the elector's riding after the candidates have been confirmed, on the 19th day before polling day. A list of the candidates in the elector's riding may be included in the voting kit if the kit is sent after the candidates have been confirmed, on the 19th day before polling day.

In the case of a referendum, each referendum question is printed on a separate ballot.

To vote, the elector must first complete and sign the declaration on the outer envelope that forms part of the voting kit. The declaration states that the elector's name is as shown on the envelope and that he or she has not already voted in the election underway. The elector then completes the ballot by writing on it the name of one of the candidates in the riding or, in the case of a referendum, by checking either "yes" or "no" and then inserting the ballot into the series of envelopes in accordance with the instructions provided.

Finally, the elector must ensure that the completed ballot reaches the office of the returning officer in his or her riding before the close of the polling stations in the riding on polling day.

An elector who is voting in person in the office of the returning officer can use an ordinary ballot if these ballots have already been printed at the time he or she is voting.

The ballot must be inserted into the envelopes provided and then submitted in person at the office of the returning officer or returned by mail. A ballot received by any other means, including fax, will not be counted. The Act also prohibits counting ballots received after the deadline.

3. Canadian citizens temporarily residing outside the country

Canadians who have reached the age of 18 and are temporarily residing outside the country may vote by special ballot in an election or referendum. They must have lived outside the country for less than five years since their last stay in Canada (with some exceptions) and intend to return to live in Canada.

The five-year limit does not apply to:

Registration

Elections Canada keeps a permanent register of Canadian electors temporarily residing outside the country. Electors may register at any time by sending Elections Canada an Application for Registration and Special Ballot form. This form may be requested in person, by mail, by telephone or by fax. It can also be downloaded from Elections Canada's Web site.

To exercise the right to vote during an electoral event underway, the elector must send the completed application so that it is received by Elections Canada in Ottawa before 6:00 p.m., Ottawa time, on the sixth day before polling day. The application may be sent by fax. It must be accompanied by proof of citizenship (a copy never the original of a passport or birth or baptismal certificate attesting that the elector was born in Canada, or a Canadian citizenship certificate or card). Elections Canada verifies the elector's identity and determines his or her riding.

Manner of voting

Once an electoral event is called, Elections Canada sends a personalized voting kit to every elector registered to vote by special ballot.

In the case of an election, the elector must obtain the names of the candidates in his or her riding. These names can be found on the Elections Canada Web site (www.elections.ca) or obtained from the Elections Canada Enquiries Unit or Canadian diplomatic and consular missions after the candidates have been confirmed, on the 19th day before polling day. A list of the candidates in the elector's riding may be included in the voting kit if the kit is sent after the candidates have been confirmed, on the 19th day before polling day.

In the case of a referendum, each referendum question is printed on a separate ballot.

To vote, the elector must first complete and sign the declaration on the outer envelope that forms part of the voting kit. The declaration states that the elector's name is as shown on the envelope and that he or she has not already voted in the election or referendum underway. The elector then completes the ballot by writing on it the name of one of the candidates in his or her riding or, in the case of a referendum, by checking either "yes" or "no" and then inserting the ballot into the series of envelopes in accordance with the instructions provided.

Finally, the elector is responsible for ensuring that Elections Canada in Ottawa receives the ballot no later than 6:00 p.m., Ottawa time, on polling day. The ballot must be sent in the envelopes provided. A ballot received by any other means, including fax, will not be counted. The Act also prohibits counting ballots received after the deadline.

4. Canadian Forces electors

Canadian Forces electors are Canadians who have reached the age of 18 and are members of the Canadian Forces or teachers or administrative support staff in Canadian Forces schools outside Canada. They vote by special ballot in any election or referendum.

People living with members of the Canadian Forces outside Canada are not included in the category of Canadian Forces electors, but may vote as Canadians residing temporarily outside the country (see below).

Registration

The Department of National Defence keeps a permanent register of Canadian Forces electors. When they enrol, each completes a Statement of Ordinary Residence (SOR) that determines the riding for which his or her vote will be counted.

Manner of voting

Canadian Forces electors vote by special ballot, unless they choose to vote at polling stations in their ridings. During a general election or referendum, instructions for voting are posted at the polling station in each unit and a deputy returning officer is on hand to issue voting materials. Each polling station has a complete list of candidates. During by-elections, Elections Canada sends a personalized kit to every elector registered in the riding in which the by-election is taking place.

To vote, the elector must first complete and sign the declaration on the outer envelope that forms part of the voting kit. The declaration states that the elector's name is as shown on the envelope and that he or she has not already voted in the election or referendum underway. The elector then completes the ballot by writing on it the name of one of the candidates in his or her riding or, in the case of a referendum, by checking either "yes" or "no" and then inserting the ballot into the series of envelopes in accordance with the instructions provided.

Finally, the elector is responsible for ensuring that Elections Canada in Ottawa receives the ballot no later than 6:00 p.m., Ottawa time, on polling day. Electors may mail the ballots themselves or, in most cases, during a general election or referendum, leave them with the deputy returning officer to forward by special arrangement. The ballot must be sent in the envelopes provided. A ballot received by any other means, including fax, will not be counted. The Act also prohibits counting ballots received after the deadline.

Instead of voting by special ballot, a Canadian Forces elector who is residing in the riding listed on his or her SOR may vote at the appropriate civilian polling station in that riding, provided that he or she has not already voted and continues to reside in the same riding until polling day.

5. Incarcerated electors

Canadians who have reached the age of 18 and who are serving a term of less than two years in a correctional institution in Canada may vote by special ballot in an election or referendum. A staff member in each institution is appointed liaison officer to facilitate the process of registering and voting. The liaison officer answers questions about the manner of voting and helps the electors to register.

Definition of address of ordinary residence

For electoral purposes, the incarcerated elector's address of ordinary residence is not the institution in which he or she is serving a sentence. It is the elector's last residence before being incarcerated. Electors who had no fixed address before incarceration may use the first of the following addresses known to them:

the current address of a person with whom the elector would live if not incarcerated, or the elector's next of kin; or, if none of these addresses is known or they do not apply,

the address of the place of his or her arrest; or

the address of the last court where the elector was convicted and sentenced.

Registration

The incarcerated elector registers by filling out an Application for Registration and Special Ballot form, which is available from the liaison officer once an electoral event has been called.

To vote in an electoral event underway, the elector must send the completed application so that it is received by Elections Canada in Ottawa no later than 6:00 p.m., Ottawa time, on the sixth day before polling day. The application may be sent by fax. It must be accompanied by a copy of a proof of identity and residence. If necessary, the liaison officer can help obtain the proof of identity by finding the necessary documents in the elector's file.

Manner of voting

During a general election or referendum, incarcerated electors vote in their institutions on the 10th day before polling day. A polling station is set up at 9:00 a.m. to gather the votes and remains open until all those who wish to vote have done so, but no later than 8:00 p.m. Each polling station has the complete list of candidates. During by-elections, Elections Canada sends a personalized voting kit directly to each elector registered in a riding in which a by-election is being held. No polling station is set up.

In the case of a referendum, each referendum question is printed on a separate ballot.

To vote, the elector must first complete and sign the declaration on the outer envelope that forms part of the voting kit. The declaration states that the elector's name is as shown on the envelope and that he or she has not already voted in the election underway. The elector then completes the ballot by writing on it the name of one of the candidates in his or her riding or, in the case of a referendum, by checking either "yes" or "no" and then inserting the ballot into the series of envelopes in accordance with the instructions provided.

Finally, the elector is responsible for ensuring that Elections Canada in Ottawa receives the ballot no later than 6:00 p.m., Ottawa time, on polling day. Electors may mail the ballots themselves or, in most cases, during a general election or referendum, leave them with the deputy returning officer to forward by special arrangement. The ballot must be sent in the envelopes provided. A ballot received by any other means, including fax, will not be counted. The Act also prohibits counting ballots received after the deadline.

RESULTS OF VOTING BY SPECIAL BALLOT

Counting the votes

At Elections Canada, in Ottawa

The ballots of Canadian Forces electors, Canadian citizens temporarily residing outside the country, Canadian residents absent from their ridings and incarcerated electors serving a sentence of less than two years are counted if they arrive at Elections Canada in Ottawa before 6:00 p.m. on polling day. Special ballot officers appointed on the recommendation of the political parties sort the outer envelopes by riding. The outer envelopes are checked to make sure they have been completed properly. The bar code stickers are scanned electronically to ensure that the ballot comes from a registered voter and that no other ballot has already been received from that elector. The outer envelopes are then opened by the special ballot officers, who take out the unmarked inner envelopes containing the ballots. Still sealed, these ballots are all mixed together in a ballot box with other ballots for the same riding. The ballot box is then opened and the ballots are taken out of the inner envelopes and tallied. The system guarantees the secrecy of each vote.

The counting of special ballots actually begins on the fifth day before polling day, or on a day set by the Chief Electoral Officer. Working in teams of two, each representing a different political party, the special ballot officers count the ballots riding by riding.

At the office of the returning officer

The ballots of Canadian residents voting in their ridings are counted in the office of each returning officer, on polling night, by a deputy returning officer and poll clerk appointed by the returning officer.

Communicating the results

As soon as the special ballots are counted at Elections Canada in Ottawa, the Special Voting Rules Administrator informs the Chief Electoral Officer of the results of the special ballot vote for each riding. The Chief Electoral Officer totals the results, for each riding, of the vote by special ballot of Canadian Forces electors, Canadian citizens residing temporarily outside the country and incarcerated electors serving a sentence of less than two years; these three categories are designated group 1.

The returning officers concerned are informed of the total group 1 result for their ridings by memorandum, after the polling stations close on polling day. The results of the votes by Canadian residents absent from their ridings are communicated separately to the returning officers concerned. The returning officers add this result to the result for Canadian residents voting in their own ridings and report it as group 2.

The results of the two groups are reported separately on polling night. All the results of the special ballot votes are then added to the total results for each riding.

For more information, please contact:

Elections Canada
257 Slater Street
Ottawa, Ontario
K1A 0M6

Telephone

1 800 INFO-VOTE (1 800 463-6868)
toll-free in Canada and the United States

001 800 514-6868
toll-free in Mexico

(613) 993-2975
from anywhere in the world

For people who are deaf or hard of hearing:
TTY 1 800 361-8935
toll-free in Canada and the United States

Fax

(613) 954-8584

E-mail

Click here

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September 2000