By JEFF GRAY
Globe and Mail Update
Not on the voters list? Don't worry about it, Elections Canada says.
The non-partisan federal agency running the election has made a big advertising push this time around, urging eligible voters to get "on the list."
Elections Canada no longer goes door-to-door to enumerate voters — it relies on a new "permanent voters list" gleaned from various federal and provincial data banks.
If you didn't receive an Elections Canada voter information card in the mail, you are probably not on this list, and you were supposed to have contacted your local Elections Canada office before Nov. 21.
When Can I Vote?
All times are local
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But if you didn't do this, you can still vote. To find out where your polling station is — it would have been printed on your voter information card, had you received one — you must call your local returning officer. Those telephone numbers were printed in recent newspaper ads, but are also available on the Elections Canada site or by calling 1-800-INFO-VOTE. Elections Canada says 350 staff members will be working the phones at this hot line, answering last-minute questions from voters.
Once you've figured out where you are supposed to cast your ballot, just show up with a driver's licence or other forms of identification with your signature and address. If you can't produce such identification, there is even a provision to allow a registered neighbour to vouch for you.
Elections Canada says 415,000 Canadians registered on voting day in 1997, and there were no significant problems. The agency expects double that number this time, but returning officers have been instructed to have extra staff.
After all the ballots are cast, each polling station's deputy returning officer counts them by hand, with the poll clerk and representatives from the candidates watching.
The unofficial results are then called into the riding's returning officer, who makes them public.
But the results are not official until they are validated by each riding's returning officer within seven days of the vote. Returning officers don't actually recount ballots during this process, they just check the addition of the totals.
Elections Canada says returning officers automatically ask for judicial recounts in ridings where a candidate has won by one one-thousandth of the total vote or less, or where two candidates have tied. If the tie stands after the recount, a by-election is held.
Candidates or anyone else can also ask a judge to carry out a recount. But they must produce a $250 deposit and an affidavit swearing that there were improprieties in the count, or that ballots were wrongly rejected, all within four days of the validation.
Making your mark
The ballots used in Canadian elections are uniform across the country, and haven't changed much since the Dominion Elections Act was passed in 1900
Front of form: The names of the candidates appear in alphabetical order by last name. Only the names of those standing for election in your riding are listed. The party leaders names do not appear — except in their own ridings.
The name of each candidate's registered political party has only appeared on the ballot since 1974. Only registered parties are allowed to have their names on the ballot. Elections Canada advises voter to make an X — the traditional marking, which is not actually mentioned in law. Any mark that could identify the voter makes the ballot invalid.
Back of form: The ballots are numbered to crack down on fraud. The ballot is ripped from a booklet, given to the voter, and then checked against the remaining stub. The number is then removed from the ballot so the individual cannot be traced. The deputy returning officer initials each ballot to prevent fraud. The riding's name, the election date and the name of the printing company appear on all ballots.