Elections Canada – Working at a federal election

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Working at a federal election

The next federal election is coming and Elections Canada will hire over 285,000 people to make sure it runs smoothly.

The Canadian Hard of Hearing Association (CHHA) is working with Elections Canada to better inform our audience not only about voting in a federal election, but also about the different ways to take part in the democratic process for the next federal election, one of which is working in a federal election. Working at an election is an opportunity to play an important role in the democratic process and one of Elections Canada’s goals is to reach electors who face barriers to participating in an election and to help them feel more comfortable getting involved.

Reasons why we think CHHA members should consider working in the next general election:

  1. Working in the election is helping Canada’s democracy. When you work at a federal election, you have the chance to make voting more welcoming and accessible to our community. By being a friendly face at the polling station or Elections Canada office, you help other people feel comfortable and confident when they vote.
  2. You get to meet new people. You’ll meet new coworkers and people in your community while they are joining together an important civic exercise.
  3. Learn new skills. You’ll get work experience and skills, which you can add to your résumé. You’ll also learn more about elections and how they work.
  4. Get paid to do it! You get paid for working in a federal election, and you get paid for the training too.

What does the job entail?

There are different types of jobs at a polling station that you can apply for depending on your skills and interests. The positions to be filled include:

  • deputy returning officer
  • poll clerk
  • information officer
  • registration officer
  • central poll supervisor

These positions are hired by the recruitment officer. Usually, you will have an interview, after which you will be given training. When you work at a polling station, you will work either:

  •  On election day and at the advance polls (the Friday, Saturday, Sunday and Monday one week before election day); or
  • Just on election day, the shift begins up to an hour before the polls open and ends when the election workers have counted the last ballots—usually 12 to 14 hours (or more) later.

What are the job requirements?

There are three main requirements to work in an election. You must:

  • Be a Canadian Citizen
  • Be at least 16 years old on election day
  • Not take part in any partisan activity while on duty starting from the first day of advance polls and ending after the counting of the ballots

On top of those three requirements, Election officers are also required to:

  • Act in an impartial manner and without preference to any particular candidate.
  • Provide a high quality service to voters, treating them equally, regardless of ethnicity, gender or any other characteristics.
  • Be competent and follow instructions without errors. Ballot papers must be given to the right people, and polling stations need to be set out so that ballot secrecy is ensured.
  • Be ‘problem solvers’. An election day can throw up unforeseen events which poll workers may need to resolve efficiently and within the guidelines.

Each position has its own set of specific skills or requirements. We strongly encourage you to look at them each on Elections Canada’s website here.

Accessibility & accommodations

You are encouraged to identify any accessibility needs you may have if you are interested in working in a federal election. Returning Officers receive training in accommodating electors and poll workers with a variety of accessibility needs. For poll workers, most of the work is on election day. However, there is a wide range of roles and opportunities for your community to work throughout the election period, including working in advance polls, at on-campus voting locations, and at an Elections Canada office near you.

Elections Canada’s “Inspire Democracy” website has an excellent resource on working at a federal election here.

What if I don’t know much about elections?

That’s okay. Elections Canada will train you (and you’ll get paid for the training too)!

Every election worker who works at a polling station gets in-person training. Elections Canada explains your job clearly so you’ll know exactly what you need to do. There are always people who are ready to help and support you.

Training for jobs at polling stations is 3 hours and takes place in the riding where you’ll work during the day or evening or on weekends. You will have the opportunity to learn about the tasks and responsibilities for your particular role. You can expect to do hands-on practice as well as watch videos and do quizzes. You will have extra time to fill out the paperwork necessary and to make a solemn declaration.

We encourage CHHA members to visit Elections Canada’s website and apply for a position if there’s one that interests you!