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Self-training workbook: Registration Officer

Election basics

Canada is divided into 338 “electoral districts.” Between 60,000 and 120,000 electors live in each electoral district. These electors elect one member of Parliament for their district

Election Basics

In a general election, all 338 electoral districts have elections. In between general elections, if there is a vacancy in a district, a by-election is held to elect a new member of Parliament

The person who runs the election in each electoral district is known as a returning officer (or RO).

The RO divides their electoral district into ordinary polling divisions. Between 300 and 500 electors live in each polling division. Those electors can only vote at a specific polling station.

An image of a yellow poster with an arrow pointing to the polling place.

For advance polls, polling divisions are grouped together into advance polling districts. Each advance polling district includes many ordinary polling divisions.

The RO determines the places where electors will go to vote. They find places for advance polls and ordinary polls that are easy to get to for as many electors as possible. These locations are called polling places. Polling places include churches, school gymnasiums, community centres and other buildings.

In many cases, a polling place—the building—has more than one polling station, which is the table where the elector votes. This makes it easier for the RO to organize staff to work on polling days.