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Additional Guidelines for Observing Voting Operations at Ordinary and Advance Polling Places (EC 20045A)

Note: As of October 2022, some health and safety guidelines in this document no longer apply. Please refer to Update to COVID-19 Protocols for Observing Voting Operations at Polling Places and Offices (EC 20045B) for more information.

This document is Elections Canada's guideline OGI 2021-07, Part 1.


Everyone must follow the health and safety measures, signage and instructions at all Elections Canada locations. As a candidate's representative, you must become familiar with the health and safety measures at the polling place and with your responsibilities under these measures.

This document supplements the Guidelines for Candidates' Representatives (EC 20045). The pandemic situation remains fluid, and new or updated guidelines may be issued at any time. Please check the Elections Canada website for the most up-to-date information.

In addition to the new health and safety measures at polling places, detailed below, some responsibilities of election workers have changed. There will now be only one election officer at the voting desk. Duties formerly carried out by the poll clerk will be performed by other election officers at the polling place. The deputy returning officer is responsible for checking the elector's ID, crossing their name off the list and issuing their ballot. The registration officer (or the poll supervisor) is responsible for registering the elector, updating their information and administering the vouching process, when applicable. There will always be two election officers present to administer the counting of the votes when polls close on election day.

New Measures at Polling Places

New health and safety measures will be uniformly applied at polling places in all electoral districts. Some measures may change as the pandemic evolves. The central poll supervisor (or the deputy returning officer or designated supervisor on site) is responsible for ensuring that the new health and safety measures are applied and followed.

The following measures will apply:

  • Election officers will encourage electors to wear a mask. Masks will be available if electors need them.
  • Election officers will ask electors to follow physical distancing measures and signage.
  • Electors will be encouraged to provide their name and contact information (on a voluntary basis) for the Entry Register for contact tracing purposes.
  • Electors will be allowed to register and vote without removing their face mask or other face covering, in keeping with Elections Canada's Policy on Voter Identification when Registering and Voting in Person in Federal Electoral Events.

As a candidate's representative, you must follow additional measures, which include but are not limited to:

  • Wearing a mask at all times, including during the counting of the votes. (Elections Canada will supply a mask, or you may bring your own. Your mask must be neutral in colour and not indicate support or opposition to any candidate or political party on the ballot.)
  • Staying at least two metres from others, including poll workers, at all times.
  • Washing your hands often or using hand sanitizer when soap and water are unavailable.
  • Staying home if you are sick or if you have been in contact with someone who has or is suspected of having COVID-19.
  • Avoiding touching surfaces where possible.
  • Bringing your own pen to sign ballot box seals.
  • Providing your name and phone number for contact tracing purposes, where applicable (recommended but not mandatory).

Representatives may also wish to consider downloading and activating the Government of Canada's COVID Alert exposure notification app.

Impacts on the Functions of Candidates' Representatives

The health and safety measures being put in place at polling stations do not impact the rights and obligations of candidates' representatives. However, to ensure the safety of electors, election workers and candidates' representatives during the pandemic, the following changes will apply.

Candidates' representatives during voting hours

While every candidate is entitled to send two representatives per polling place, we ask candidates to help ensure that there is enough space in the building to allow voting to proceed as quickly as possible while meeting physical distancing requirements. This should not affect the periods before polls open when ballot boxes are being sealed and after voting hours when votes are being counted.

Note: Under the health and safety measures, the central poll supervisor (or the deputy returning officer or designated supervisor on site) may restrict the movement of candidates' representatives within the polling place if necessary to ensure the health and safety of electors and workers both during voting and during the count.

Voter identification

If you cannot keep a distance of two metres from an elector when examining their ID, you may ask the elector to place their ID on the table and step back while you examine it. Candidates' representatives may not touch or handle the ID.

Contact information and the Visitors Log

When entering the polling place and before showing your Authorization of a Candidate's Representative form, you may be asked to provide your name and contact information for the Entry Register for contact tracing purposes. Although providing this information is voluntary, you must sign the Visitors Log when entering and leaving the polling place. This log will help us keep an accurate record of everyone—other than electors—who enters and leaves.

Note that public health authorities conduct contact tracing, not Elections Canada. We will provide the Entry Register to public health authorities if they request it. Protocols are in place to protect the information in the register and properly dispose of it. It will be destroyed 30 days after election day.