Deputy Returning Officer Guidebook - Canadian Forces Electors

Alternate Formats

EC 78130 (05/2015)

Elections Canada

Important Information

Military Vote Coordinator responsible for Voting Period and Location of Polling Station

Liaison Officer coordinates with Commanding Officer



As a deputy returning officer (DRO) at a Canadian Forces (CF) polling station, your main job is to run the polling station and supply voting materials to CF electors. This manual explains your duties and the voting rules for CF electors.

Your unit Commanding Officer will give you instructions. He or she works with a Liaison Officer designated by the Minister of National Defence. The Liaison Officer coordinates with Elections Canada in Ottawa.

If you have questions, or need help on polling days, you or your Commanding Officer should contact the Liaison Officer.

While on duty as a DRO, you must not take part in any partisan political activity, offer personal opinions, or display political party or candidate material.

Who can vote?

Electors must be Canadian citizens and at least 18 years old on civilian polling day. CF electors include:

  • members of the Regular Force
  • members of the Reserve Force on full-time training or service or active service
  • members of the Special Force of the CF
  • civilian teachers or administrative support staff employed by the CF in its schools outside Canada

CF electors generally vote under the Special Voting Rules (Part 11 of the Canada Elections Act).

When do CF electors vote?

The voting period for CF electors starts on the 14th day and ends on the 9th day before civilian polling day. Your Commanding Officer decides when the polls will be open during this time.

Polls have to be open on at least 3 days during the voting period and for at least 3 hours per day.

Protecting privacy

As a DRO, you will come into contact with personal information about CF electors that must remain private. Make sure any document with personal information is kept secure and out of sight of other electors.

Getting ready

  1. Attend the briefing session for DROs.
  2. Inspect the polling place to make sure there will be enough space for electors to vote in privacy.
  3. Ask your Commanding Officer to confirm the voting period for your polling station (always between the 14th and 9th days before civilian polling day). Note: your Commanding Officer will post a notice at least 3 days before the voting period to inform electors about when and where to vote. Polls must be open on at least 3 days and for at least 3 hours per day during the voting period.
  4. Get supplies from your Commanding Officer and check them against Supplies Distribution Record EC 78190. Note check supplies at least 48 hours before the first unit voting period (earlier if outside Canada).
  5. Count your ballots to make sure the number matches the Supplies Distribution Record. Keep them in a safe place. Note: if you are missing ballots or supplies, alert the Military Vote Coordinator at Elections Canada right away. Missing supplies will be shipped directly to the unit as quickly as possible.
  6. Sign the white copy of the Supplies Distribution Record. Fax or mail it to Elections Canada using the contact information at the bottom of the form.

Checklist of supplies

Elections Canada will provide your Commanding Officer with enough supplies to serve the electors in your unit.

  • EC 78190 Supplies Distribution Record – Canadian Forces Electors
  • EC 50240 Voting Screen – 1 or more, depending on your unit’s requirements
  • EC 78120 Instruction Cards
  • EC 50250 Unsealed Box for Ballots
  • EC 50470 Supplies Kit for one polling station, which contains:
    • voting pencils, pencil sharpener, masking tape, pen and ruler
    • EC 50180 Official Seals
    • EC 50210 Election Personnel Identification Card
  • Part 11 of the Canada Elections Act
  • Alphabetical list of electors for your unit
  • EC 78200 Outer Envelopes – Canadian Forces Electors
  • List of confirmed candidates
  • EC 78300 Special Ballot Booklets
  • EC 78840 Inner Envelopes
  • EC 78008 White Mailing Envelopes pre-addressed to Military Vote Coordinator
  • EC 78270 Envelope for Spoiled Ballots
  • EC 78000 Statement of Ordinary Residence – Regular Force blank forms
  • EC 78020 Statement of Ordinary Residence – Reserve Force blank forms
  • EC 06508 Guide to Federal Electoral Districts
  • EC 06511 Street Indexes – set of 7
  • EC 78290 Envelope for Unused Ballots

 Setting up the polling station

  1. Arrive 30 minutes before the start time for voting, listed on the notice posted by your Commanding Officer.
  2. Set up your table and chair to face the entrance of the polling place. Note: place chairs near your table if political representatives will be present. Your Liaison Officer will tell you ahead of time if any are expected.
  3. Assemble the Unsealed Box for Ballots EC 50250.  Put it in a visible location on your table.
  4. Set up the voting screen on a separate table so no one can see how electors mark their ballot (i.e. away from windows and doors). Put a sharp pencil behind it.
  5. Post at least two Instruction Cards EC 78120 in areas where they are highly visible to electors inside the polling place.
  6. Arrange with your Orderly Room for a supply of postage stamps. These will be provided to electors who choose to mail their own ballots to Elections Canada.
  7. Write your name and position on Election Personnel Identification Card EC 50210 and wear it so it is visible to electors.
  8. Make sure the following are available for consultation by electors:
    • Part 11 of the Canada Elections Act
    • EC 06508 Guide to Federal Electoral Districts
    • EC 06511 Street Indexes – set of 7
    • List of confirmed candidates.
  9. At the time on the notice posted by your Commanding Officer, start serving electors. Note: at the end of each CF polling day, store ballots and materials in a safe place. Ideally, look for a place where the material can be locked up. 
Setting up the polling station

The image above illustrates how to set up the polling station. The voting screen is located on a table at the back of the room. The Deputy Returning Officer and Assistant are seated behind the registration table, facing the entrance, with their backs to the voting station. Political representative chairs are located on the right side of the room (point of view from the entrance doors).

Attention: Important instructions

Check behind the screen often to make sure:

  • the pencil is sharp
  • no partisan materials were left there

CF polls cannot close earlier than the specified time, even if it appears there are no more electors coming to vote. If polling activity appears to have completely tapered off well before the specified closing time, advise your Commanding Officer.

Example of an Outer Envelope for Canadian Forces Electors that has been filled with Elector's name, electoral district, signature and date.

Serving an elector

If the elector’s name or electoral district is not on the list.

  1. Find the elector’s name on the alphabetical list of electors and cross it off.
  2. Write the elector’s name and electoral district (ED) on an Outer Envelope EC 78200.
  3. Give the elector the outer envelope. Ask them to read, sign and date the declaration on the front.
  4. Find the page for the elector’s ED in the list of candidates and give them the list.
  5. Remove a ballot from the booklet, give it to them and ask them to:
    1. go behind the voting screen
    2. write the full name of their chosen candidate on the ballot
    3. fold the ballot and return it to you along with the list of candidates
    4. Note: tell the elector their ballot will be rejected if they only write the political party name.
Illustration of Steps 6 and 7.
  1. Ask the elector to do the following in your full view:
    • put the ballot in an Inner Envelope EC 78840
    • seal the inner envelope
    • put the inner envelope in the outer envelope
    • seal the outer envelope
    • give you the outer envelope.
  2. Put the outer envelope in the Unsealed Box for Ballots EC 50250. Inform the elector their ballot will be sent to Elections Canada in Ottawa.

Attention: Important instructions

If more than one candidate has the same last name, the elector must also write the name of the chosen candidate’s political party.

Electors can, if they wish, mail their outer envelope directly to Elections Canada using a White Mailing Envelope pre-addressed to Military Vote Coordinator EC 78008 and postage stamp that you provide.

Inform them it must be received at Elections Canada in Ottawa by 6 p.m. (Eastern Time) on civilian polling day to be counted.

Returning ballots to Ottawa

As delegated by your Commanding Officer, at the end of the last day of the voting period (Day 9):

  1. Put all unused ballots and the stubs of used ballots in Envelope for Unused Ballots EC 78290.
  2. Seal the following envelopes with Official Seal EC 50180 and sign the seals:
    • EC 78270 Envelope for Spoiled Ballots
    • EC 78290 Envelope for Unused Ballots.
  3. Open Unsealed Box for Ballots EC 50250 and take out all the sealed outer envelopes. Check to make sure no envelopes are stuck in the inner flaps of the box.
  4. Count the number of envelopes. Make a note of the total to report to the Military Vote Coordinator.
  5. Package the following materials together:
    • EC 78200 Outer Envelopes containing ballots
    • EC 78270 Envelope for Spoiled Ballots (sealed)
    • EC 78290 Envelope for Unused Ballots (sealed)
    • EC 78070 Authorization of a Political Party Representative forms (if any).
  6. Send the package to the Military Vote Coordinator immediately by Priority Post or courier (whichever is most expeditious) to ensure it arrives on time. Ballots must be received at Elections Canada before 6 p.m. (Eastern Time) on civilian polling day. Note: by law, votes received after this deadline cannot be counted.
  7. As soon as the ballots have been shipped, e-mail your Liaison Officer and the Military Vote Coordinator to report:
    • date and time of shipment
    • means of shipment
    • shipping tracking number (if applicable)
    • how many sealed outer envelopes are included
    • Note: keep receipts for all expenses related to the cost of returning ballots to Ottawa.

Returning supplies after the voting period

  1. Give the following to your Orderly Room:
    • all filled out Statement of Ordinary Residence forms (packaged separately)
    • all other supplies.
  2. Tally all receipts for expenses related to the cost of returning ballots to Ottawa.
  3. Submit expenses to Financial Authorities according to instructions received from your Liaison Officer.

Other situations

Admitting party representatives

Only 1 representative for each party is authorized to be present at a military polling station at any one time. The Liaison Officer will tell you if any party representatives are expected during the voting period.

  1. When a representative arrives, greet them and take their Authorization of a Political Party Representative EC 78070.
  2. Check that it has:
    • the candidate’s signature (photocopied signatures are accepted)
    • the representative’s name, political party and the polling station.
  3. Administer the oath on the form.
  4. Fill out the bottom part, sign it and ask the party representative to sign it.
  5. Give them a pre-printed label from Candidate’s Representative Labels Booklet EC 20900. Note: the Liaison Officer will give you labels if any representatives are expected. Note: the party representative can leave and return at any time. They cannot sit at your table.

Elector’s name or electoral district is not on the list

  1. Ask the elector to confirm they:
  2. Ask someone in your unit’s Orderly Room to find and  give you the elector’s SOR. It will show their ED and address for voting purposes. Note the elector needs to fill out an SOR if it can’t be found – see below.
  3. Follow steps for serving an elector.

Elector needs to fill out a Statement of Ordinary Residence

  1. Give them a blank Statement of Ordinary Residence EC 78000 or EC 78020 to fill out.
  2. Look up their city, town or municipality in the Guide to Federal Electoral Districts EC 06508 to find their ED.
  3. Add the name and number of the ED to the SOR.
  4. Follow steps for serving an elector.

Finding an electoral district in the Guide to Federal Electoral Districts

If the elector is filling out an SOR, you will have to find their ED using their Canadian civic address. Note: the civic address must be a physical address. It cannot be a post office (PO) box, general delivery (GD) or rural route (RR) mailing address.

  1. Find the elector’s city or town in the Guide to Federal Electoral Districts EC 06508. Tip: The guide is organized by province, starting in the east (Newfoundland and Labrador) and moving west (British Columbia). The locations in each province are listed alphabetically. Example: To find Red Deer, Alberta, go to the Alberta section of the guide and look under ‘R’ for Red Deer. Aboriginal lands are listed separately in Chapter 2 of the guide. They are organized by province, starting in the east and moving west, and are listed alphabetically within each province.
  2. If a location has only 1 ED, the name and number of the ED will be listed. Write these on the SOR and continue serving the elector. If a location has more than 1 ED, you will see them all listed. The guide will tell you which street index to use to narrow down the list. Tip: There are 7 street indexes to cover different regions: Atlantic, Quebec, Ontario East and North, Ontario South and West, Toronto, Prairies and British Columbia.
  3. Find the elector’s city or town in the appropriate Street Index.
  4. Look up the street name. Tip: They are listed alphabetically in each section, with numbered streets coming before the  letter A (e.g. 100 Avenue East). If a street has more than 1 ED, the index will tell you which building numbers belong in which ED.
  5. Use all the address information you have to narrow it down to 1 valid ED.
  6. Write the ED name and number on the SOR. Continue serving the elector. Note: only the ED name is listed in the Street Index. Refer to your original search in the guide for the ED number.
Example of form filled out with full name and contact information, date of birth, gender, service number, rank, language, canadian address and signed declaration.

Completed Statement of Ordinary Residence form

Elector wants to update their address for voting purposes

  1. Give the elector a blank Statement of Ordinary Residence EC 78000 or EC 78020 to fill out.
  2. Inform them they are only able to vote for a candidate in the ED indicated on the list of electors.
  3. Inform them that, by law, the change to their SOR will only take effect 14 days after civilian polling day.

Elector is away from their unit

  1. Check the elector’s travel order or leave form to find their ED or civic address.
  2. If these are not on the form, contact their unit or Liaison Officer to get their ED or civic address.
  3. Follow the steps for serving an elector.

Elector spoils the ballot

Electors who spoil their ballot by accident can exchange it for another.

  1. Without examining the ballot, write “spoiled” across the back.
  2. Put it in Envelope for Spoiled Ballots EC 78270.
  3. Give the elector a new ballot. Note: there is a limit of one replacement ballot per elector.

Elector needs help to vote

You can help an elector mark the ballot in front of a witness of their choice, but only if requested by the elector.

  1. Complete steps 1 to 5 for serving an elector.
  2. Take the elector and the witness behind the voting screen.
  3. Discreetly ask the elector for which candidate they want to vote. Write the choice on the ballot in full view of the elector and the witness.
  4. Put the ballot in an inner envelope and put the inner envelope in the outer envelope.
  5. Write the elector’s name on the front of the envelope in the space marked “Elector’s signature”.
  6. Sign the note on the back of the envelope indicating the elector was assisted. Ask the witness to sign it.
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