Answers to some frequently asked questions from electors and candidates.
Elections Newfoundland and Labrador has 11 permanent staff members. The office is organized in the following way:
During an election, our office staff contingent increases due to the increased requirement for logistical and administrative support. For the 2015 Provincial Election, we will have upwards of 40 people working at the office.
For other special events, such as on advance polling day and for the Special Ballot count, our election staff contingent at headquarters increases again, but only temporarily.
Each electoral district has what is called a 'Returning Office' which coordinates the election from the district level. Each Returning Office is staffed with a Returning Officer (who is like the district election manager), an Election Clerk (who is like the district election assistant manager) and a Special Ballot Officer (who coordinates Special Ballot voting within the district).
We maintain a constant state of readiness and must ensure that all those involved in the electoral process (i.e. candidates, parties and electors) are aware of their rights and obligations under the law. We have a full contingent of permanent, temporary and field staff, including Returning Officers, Election Clerks and Special Ballot Officers.
Prior to an election call, training for all district Returning Officers, Election Clerks and Special Ballot Officers takes place. For the 2015 Provincial Election, training was divided into five large sessions with roughly 8 electoral districts attending each session (24 people). Sessions began on June 30 and ended on August 5. Several additional training sessions took place between August and October in order to facilitate training new staff and those individuals who were unable to attend the larger sessions for other reasons.
During an election, our staff executes all the plans and procedures we have been working on for the last four years. According to legislation, the Chief Electoral Officer must enforce on the part of election officers fairness, impartiality and compliance with the Act. He or she must also exercise general direction and supervision over the administrative conduct of elections.
During an election we have a responsibility to provide the electorate with the information required to vote. We focus on disseminating information on where and when to vote, the voting options that are available, advance poll and election day polling locations, and important contact information.
Immediately following an election, many administrative tasks are completed, such as paying election officials and polling station rental fees.
Also following an election, all procedures and processes are evaluated. An analysis of the events that transpired during the election is completed. Committees are formed and plans are made for the next election. Additionally, the voters list is continually updated and reports are published and submitted to the House of Assembly.
Within four months of election day, all candidates are required to file the "Campaign Period Financial Statements for a Candidate in an Election" along with supporting schedules and audit reports. Once filed, these statements are reviewed by Elections Newfoundland and Labrador to ensure compliance with the Elections Act, 1991. After they are reviewed, a subsidy is paid to campaigns that meet the eligibility criteria.
The services provided by Elections Newfoundland and Labrador must be available between electoral events and the staff (both at headquarters and in the field) are trained and ready at any time for an election.
In order to vote, an elector must be:
There is a feature on the Elections Newfoundland and Labrador website that allows electors to search for their electoral districts. By typing in your address, the search should generate an electoral district match. It is important to note that the search function will only match an electoral district to an address with registered electors residing there. If your address does not generate an electoral district, you may not be on the voters list and should call Elections Newfoundland and Labrador.
In order to find out which district you are in, you can also call our office toll-free at 1-877-729-7987 to speak to a Voter Registry Coordinator. Voter Registry Coordinators maintain the voters list and are able to search for elector information within the voter registry computer system.
In order to add your name to the voters list, contact the Voter Registry division at Elections Newfoundland and Labrador. You will be required to complete a form and produce identification.
Yes, you can still vote if your name is not on the voters list. You will, however, be required to complete an oath (confirming you are who you say you are) and present identification that shows your name, current address and signature.
If you are not on the voters list, you have to produce identification that shows your full name, current address and signature in order to vote. The ideal piece of identification is a driver's licence because it contains your name, address and signature.
We understand that not everyone has a driver's licence, so there are alternative forms of acceptable ID. Any combination of documents that show all three identification criteria will be accepted. For example, your power bill contains your name and address. Combine that with a credit card, which contains your name and signature, and you meet all three ID criteria.
There are three additional identification methods:
If you have any questions about identification, please contact Elections Newfoundland and Labrador.
Elections Newfoundland and Labrador receives elector updates from other sources, like Elections Canada. However, you should be aware that being on the federal list of electors does not guarantee inclusion on our provincial list. Though we receive updates from Elections Canada, it is quite possible that any updates made at the federal polls will not be incorporated into the provincial list in time for our election due to the restrictive timelines between the two electoral events. Your information may have been updated in our system, but if not, you will be required to complete an oath to verify your change of name or address.
Yes, the deadline to be added to the voters list for the 2015 Provincial Election is Monday, November 23, 2015 at 8:00 p.m. (half an hour earlier in most of Labrador).
There are electronic versions of the district maps on the Elections Newfoundland and Labrador website.
Paper copies of the electoral district maps are available for a fee from the Department of Government Services and Lands, Surveys & Mapping Division. They are located in the Howley Building on Higgins Line, St. John's, NL. Their telephone number is (709) 729-3305.
Elections Newfoundland and Labrador coordinates election operations for the whole province, which is comprised of 40 electoral district Returning Offices, from its headquarters in St. John's. Each Returning Office manages the election operation for its district. Each Returning Office has a Returning Officer (who is like the district Election Manager), an Election Clerk (who is like the district Assistant Election Manager) and a Special Ballot Officer (who coordinates Special Ballot voting for the district). These staff members are there to meet the needs of electors at the district level and do the hiring and training for all temporary field staff who work in the district polling stations.
The position of Returning Officer is a continuous position which is filled by the same person for each election and by-election until he or she resigns or is removed from the position. This position is written in legislation.
When a vacancy occurs, the position is advertised. Applicants who are deemed to be adequately qualified are interviewed. In order to be considered for employment, Returning Officer applicants must meet the basic qualifications of an elector and must live within the electoral district where the vacancy exists.
All Returning Officer training is conducted by Elections Newfoundland and Labrador staff. The Returning Officer is responsible for hiring an Election Clerk and a Special Ballot Officer. These individuals must also meet the basic qualifications of an elector.
Returning Officers, Election Clerks and Special Ballot Officers are not permitted to be members of any political party and must not have had any political associations within 60 days before polling day. This includes being in the service of a candidate or being employed by a candidate or his or her scrutineer (or someone else who is working on behalf or in the interest of a candidate).
During an election or by-election, resumes can be forwarded to the Returning Officer by hand-delivery or by mail, or interested applicants can apply on the Elections Newfoundland and Labrador's website.
Outside of an electoral event, resumes can be forwarded to Elections Newfoundland and Labrador to be added to district files for upcoming employment opportunities.
There are three methods of voting available to electors:
Advance polls are held between one and seven days prior to election day. In the case of the 2015 Provincial Election, advance polls will be open on Monday, November 23, 2015 from 8:00 a.m. until 8:00 p.m. (half an hour earlier in most of Labrador).
Regular poll voting is the day set for the election or by-election. In the case of the 2015 Provincial Election, regular polls will be open on Monday, November 30, 2015 from 8:00 a.m. until 8:00 p.m. (half an hour earlier in most of Labrador).
Special Ballot voting is an alternative voting method available to electors who feel they will be unable to vote in person at the advance or regular polls. According to the Elections Act, 1991, this method of voting can be available to electors up to four weeks prior to the election or by-election being called.
Interested electors must apply to vote by Special Ballot. Applications are available on the Elections Newfoundland and Labrador website (www.elections.gov.nl.ca) or at any of the 60 election offices throughout the province. As well, electors can obtain applications from Elections Newfoundland and Labrador's headquarters. Our Special Ballot brochure can be found here.
Once an application is approved, a Special Ballot kit is issued. This kit consists of a blank ballot and a series of envelopes designed to protect the secrecy of the elector's vote. Special Ballots are blank because Special Ballot voting is open prior to the official nomination day on the election calendar. Therefore, electors must print either the party name, the potential candidate's name (if they know it) or both.
The deadline to apply for a Special Ballot for the 2015 Provincial Election is Monday, November 23, 2015 at 6:00 p.m. There are also important deadlines to adhere to when returning a Special Ballot and these dates will be communicated to electors who apply.
Special Ballot voting can be done through the mail, but during a Provincial General Election there are also Special Ballot offices established in communities around the province.
For the 2015 Provincial General Election, 60 office locations have been established throughout Newfoundland and Labrador to improve the convenience and accessibility of the voting process to electors. In addition to the 40 district Returning Offices, the following 20 additional Special Ballot offices have been established in the communities of:
Contact information for these offices, as well as the district Returning Offices, can be found here.
On Thursday, November 19, 2015, officials from Elections Newfoundland and Labrador will visit hospitals and personal care homes/long-term care facilities throughout the province to allow those people who will be unable to vote in person at the advance or regular polls to vote bedside by Special Ballot.
People who are temporarily away from the province and who wish to vote in an election must do so by Special Ballot voting, as well.
Before students vote, they determine for themselves in what electoral district they are going to vote. Legislation refers to this place as one's "ordinary residence". According to the Elections Act, 1991, ordinary residence is "that place which [the student] has his or her principal or only residence, home, lodging or habitation". A person may not have more than one residence at a time. In other words, the student's ordinary residence will be the place they consider home.
Once a student has determined his or her ordinary residence, voting can take place by one of three methods available to all electors:1. Advance Voting
Advance polls are usually open one week before regular polling is scheduled to take place. In the case of the 2015 Provincial Election, advance polls will be open on Monday, November 23, 2015 from 8:00 a.m. until 8:00 p.m. (half an hour earlier in most of Labrador).
Regular poll voting is the day set for the election or by-election. In the case of the 2015 Provincial General Election, regular polls will be open on Monday, November 30, 2015 from 8:00 a.m. until 8:00 p.m. (half an hour earlier in most of Labrador).
Special Ballot voting is an alternative voting method available to electors who feel they will be unable to vote in person at the advance or regular polls. This voting method is available to students who will be away from their electoral district of ordinary residence. Students may apply for a Special Ballot and, at the time of application, appropriate identification must be presented which shows the student's name, address and signature.
Election officials are sworn to secrecy and are able to help electors in any way possible.
Election staff, such as Deputy Returning Officers and Poll Clerks, can assist electors by guiding them into the polling station and explaining the voting process to them. If verbal conversation is not possible, election staff may write notes or try to communicate with electors using alternate means.
Election staff can assist an elector by reading the names on the ballot and can even help an elector mark the ballot, if such assistance is needed.
A template for persons who are blind or who have low-vision is also available at the polls. The template has several holes on its edge which line up with the candidates' names on the ballot. The ballot is placed inside the template and the elector is then able to identify the candidate of their choice with the help of the DRO, who verbally explains the order in which the candidates' names are placed (alphabetical order). The elector can mark the ballot by his/her self.
If a person has questions about the accessibility of a voting location, they can call Elections Newfoundland and Labrador toll free at 1-877-729-7987. Email inquiries are also welcome at email@example.com.
The hours of polling are the same on advance poll day and election day - polls are open from 8:00 a.m. until 8:00 p.m. (half an hour earlier in most of Labrador).
In accordance with the Elections Act, 1991, the Chief Electoral Office retains the ballot boxes, sealed, for one year following the provincial election in which they were used. After this time has passed, or unless otherwise directed by order of a judge, the Chief Electoral Office will destroy all those documents, ballots, papers contained in the ballot boxes except the poll books, voters list and all oaths.
The Chief Electoral Office may, for the purpose of revising and correcting the voters list, open a sealed ballot box in the presence of the Clerk of the House of Assembly and may remove such contents. They must ensure that the contents are used or kept in a secure place, reseal the opened ballot box with a numbered seal, make a record of the number on the seal used, and provide a copy of the record to the Clerk of the House of Assembly.
Campaign signs are permitted to be posted at any time. In fact, candidates could, in theory, post campaign signs now for the Provincial Election in 2019!
Media ads are defined to include radio, television and newspaper/periodical advertisements.
Once a writ of election has been issued, media ads are only permitted for the 21 days prior to the day before polling day. Days outside this time period are subject to a blackout. The "blackout period" is the time during the writ period when no media ads are permitted.
The blackout period for media ads includes election day and the day before election day. In addition, for writ periods in excess of 21 days, the days in excess of 21 are blacked out in the beginning of the writ period. For a 30 day writ period, the first 9 days of the writ period are blacked out. For a 22 day writ period, the first day of the writ period is blacked out.
The blackout period does not apply to public service announcements or campaign signs. They are permitted at any time.
Elections Newfoundland and Labrador has created a Political Advertising brochure to provide candidates and media with information outlining political advertising regulations.
There are currently no limits but candidates may not solicit, collect or accept funds until after the writ is issued and after they are registered with the Chief Electoral Office and are officially nominated. The deadline for nominations for the 2015 Provincial Election is November 20, 2015 at 2:00 p.m. (half an hour earlier in most of Labrador).
There are no limits on third-party involvement, but third-party spending may be attributed to an individual candidate if done with the knowledge and consent of the candidate.
For 2015, candidates can spend up to $4.386 per each eligible voter in their district. Elections Newfoundland and Labrador establishes the number of eligible voters on the date the writ is dropped. You can determine the maximum possible amount to spend on a campaign in a particular electoral district by multiplying the above noted factor ($4.386) by the number of eligible voters on the voters list the day the writ for an election is issued.
A complaint must be filed in writing to the Chief Electoral Officer. All complaints should include dates, locations, names of those involved, and the name, address and telephone number of the person making the complaint.
Elections Newfoundland and Labrador maintains responsibility for the overall electoral process. We can accept complaints about political parties and candidates if they are in violation of the Elections Act, 1991.
However, we do not participate in or control party nominations or party elections. Any complaints about party processes should be directed to the chairperson of the party.
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