Voting in By-elections by Incarcerated Electors
(See also Voting by Incarcerated Electors, EC 90545.)
Canadians who will be 18 years of age or older on election day and who are currently incarcerated in a correctional institution or a federal penitentiary in Canada may vote by special ballot in a federal by-election. A staff member in each institution is appointed liaison officer and facilitates the process of registering and voting. The liaison officer answers questions about the manner of voting and helps the electors to register.
In order for the elector to be eligible to vote, his or her address of ordinary residence must be located in an electoral district in which a by-election is being held.
Definition of place of ordinary residence
For electoral purposes, the incarcerated elector's place of ordinary residence is not the institution in which he or she is serving a sentence. It is the first of the following places for which the elector knows the civic and mailing addresses:
- his or her residence before being incarcerated; or
- the residence of the spouse, the common-law partner, a relative or dependant of the elector, a relative of his or her spouse or common-law partner, or a person with whom the elector would live if not incarcerated; or
- the place of his or her arrest; or
- the last court where the elector was convicted and sentenced.
The incarcerated elector must fill out an Application for Registration and Special Ballot form, which is available from the liaison officer once a by-election has been called.
The elector sends the completed and signed application to Elections Canada in Ottawa. It must be received no later than 6:00 p.m., Eastern Time, on the 6th day before election day. The application may be sent by fax.
Manner of voting
After the 19th day before election day, once the candidates are confirmed, Elections Canada sends a personalized special ballot voting kit to each elector whose application has been approved.
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 and will not attempt to vote again in the current by-election. The elector then completes the ballot by writing on it the name of one of the candidates in his or her electoral district. The elector inserts the ballot into the series of envelopes in accordance with the instructions provided.
The elector is responsible for ensuring that Elections Canada in Ottawa receives the ballot no later than 6:00 p.m., Eastern Time, on election day in order to be counted. The ballot must be sent in the envelopes provided. A ballot received by fax cannot be counted.
Results of voting by special ballot
Counting of votes
The special ballots of incarcerated electors are counted at the same time as those of Canadian electors temporarily away from their electoral districts, Canadian citizens residing outside Canada and Canadian Forces electors, provided they have been received at Elections Canada in Ottawa no later than 6:00 p.m., Eastern Time, on election day. The counting of special ballots is conducted under the supervision of the Special Voting Rules Administrator. The counting procedures are described below.
- The counting of votes shall commence on the 5th day before election day, or on a day set by the Chief Electoral Officer.
- The bar code label on each outer envelope is scanned electronically to make sure that the ballot has come from a registered elector, and that no other ballot has already been received from that elector.
- Special ballot officers, who are appointed by the Chief Electoral Officer on the recommendation of the Prime Minister, the Leader of the Opposition and the leader of the party with the third-largest number of members in the House of Commons, check the outer envelopes to make sure they have been completed properly.
- The special ballot officers open the outer envelopes, take out the unmarked inner envelopes containing the ballots and deposit each sealed inner envelope in a ballot box. If there is a by-election in more than one electoral district on the same date, each electoral district has its own ballot box. The procedure ensures the secrecy of the vote.
- The special ballot officers open the ballot boxes for each electoral district, take the ballots out of the inner envelopes and count them.
- The special ballot officers complete a Statement of the Count and deliver it to the Special Voting Rules Administrator at Elections Canada.
Communicating the results
As soon as all of 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 electoral district involved in a by-election. The Chief Electoral Officer totals the results, by electoral district, of the vote by special ballot of Canadian Forces electors, Canadian citizens residing outside Canada and incarcerated electors. These three categories are designated as Group 1. After the polls close on election day, the Group 1 results for each electoral district are sent to the appropriate returning officer.
The other category of electors whose votes are counted in Ottawa is Canadian electors temporarily away from their electoral districts. The results of these votes are tallied separately from Group 1 and sent to the appropriate returning officer, who adds them to the result for electors voting by special ballot in their own electoral districts. These two categories – Canadian electors temporarily away from their electoral districts and electors voting by special ballot in their own electoral districts – are designated as Group 2.
The results of the two groups are reported separately on election night. All the results of the special ballot votes are then added to the total results for each electoral district involved in a by-election.