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General Information on the Recruitment Process

1. General Information

The Canada Elections Act requires the Chief Electoral Officer to appoint a returning officer for each electoral district in Canada. A returning officer is responsible for administering the electoral process in the electoral district for which he or she is appointed, and ensuring that the process is handled fairly and impartially. Each returning officer is an essential member of the national team of returning officers appointed by the Chief Electoral Officer through a merit-based process.

This process selects the right applicant for the position of returning officer. If you are selected, you will receive a letter from the Chief Electoral Officer appointing you to the position and inviting you to sign your oath of office. Your employment begins when you accept the position and sign your oath. Returning officers are appointed for a term of 10 years.

The position of returning officer is demanding, both mentally and physically. Returning officers work long hours, seven days a week, during the minimum 36-day election calendar (from the day the writ ordering the election is issued until election day) and for several days after the election. The successful applicants must be available all day, every day, during that time. Outside the election period, returning officers must be able to free themselves from other commitments on an occasional, part-time basis to carry out pre-event planning assignments, attend training or briefing sessions, etc.

The work is by nature impartial and non-partisan, and returning officers must conduct all business accordingly. They must abide by Elections Canada's Code of Professional Conduct for Election Administrators and abstain from all activities of a politically partisan nature, both during and between election and referendum periods.

For more information about the position, please read the returning officer job description.

2. How to Apply

To apply for a position of returning officer, you must complete the online application form and submit it by the closing date for the competition you are entering. If you have questions about how to complete the application form, please call us at 1-800-463-6868 or write to

3. Eligibility and Qualifications

To be eligible, you must be qualified as an elector (i.e. be a Canadian citizen and at least 18 years old on election day) and must live in the electoral district (or an adjacent electoral district) that you will work in.

Read the Statement of Qualifications for Persons Appointed as Returning Officers for more information regarding qualifications and general conditions of appointment.

By law, certain persons cannot be appointed as election officers. For more information, refer to subsection 22(3) of the Canada Elections Act.

4. Selection Procedure

Returning officers are appointed based on the merit, their qualifications and skills. The evaluation and selection process has three stages.

  1. The first stage is an evaluation of your completed application to establish whether your experience includes activities relevant to the work of a returning officer. It is therefore in your best interest to include all related experience, especially any experience in the electoral field. This would include full-time and part-time employment; paid and unpaid positions; and social, community and volunteer experience. The most qualified applicants will be called for the next stage. If you are successful after this initial evaluation, you will receive an information kit consisting of various preparatory election documents.

  2. An interview will then be conducted by a Selection Committee along with a written exam. Note: Failure to attend the interview or exam without good cause will be considered as a withdrawal from the selection process.

  3. In the third stage, all successful candidates will undergo a reference check, and the top three candidates will complete a security clearance process. Once these are completed, the Selection Committee will recommend to the Chief Electoral Officer whether the applicant should be appointed to the position of returning officer, be included in a pool of qualified candidates for future vacancies, or have their application rejected.

After reviewing the Selection Committee's recommendations, the Election Officers Recruitment Team will send written confirmation of the decision to each candidate who achieved the second or third stage.

For a more complete description of the recruitment process, please read the Process for Appointing Returning Officers.

We wish you good luck with your application and appreciate your interest in the federal electoral process.