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Information Guide: Working at a Federal Election (PDF)

What is Inspire Democracy?

Inspire Democracy is an Elections Canada program. Elections Canada designed it to help people deliver workshops or information sessions about taking part in federal elections.

We created the program to:

  • inform more people about taking part in the electoral process—whether by registering to vote, voting, running in an election as a Keyword: candidate or working at an election
  • make people more familiar with how voting works
  • make voting Keyword: accessible for people or groups who have Keyword: barriers to voting

In this guide, you'll find information about the many jobs that we need to fill during an Keyword: election period.

Elections Canada usually hires and pays 230,000–250,000 Keyword: election workers during every general election to ensure it runs smoothly and fairly. There are many benefits to working at an election such as getting paid, helping to support Canada's democracy and meeting people in your community. Elections Canada aims to have all Keyword: polling stations and Keyword: Elections Canada offices reflect the diversity of Canada's communities. That means we are looking to hire more members of the following groups:

  • youth (especially those aged 16 and 17)
  • post-secondary students
  • bilingual people who can provide service in both official languages
  • people who speak a language other than the common official language in their riding
  • First Nations people, Métis and Inuit
  • people with disabilities

There are many different ways to work at a federal election.
The various job types depend on whether you're working:

at an Elections Canada office

at a polling station

You are no longer required to work in the riding you live in. In other words, you can apply to work where you choose. Depending on the situation, Elections Canada may ask you to work in a neighbouring riding where there are not enough workers.

There are various paid positions available. Each job has its own roles and requirements, but they will all give you valuable experience, skills and networking opportunities as well as a better understanding of how voting works.

It's important to show up!

During the 2019 federal election, there were some issues with trained election workers not showing up for their shifts as well as not enough people applying to work in some ridings. Roughly 10,000 trained workers did not show up at their assigned polling station. These no-shows can have a big impact on Keyword: electors, especially in cases where advance notice was not given to the Keyword: returning officers.

When you don't show up for your shifts, it means that it may be difficult to open the polls, which makes it harder for people to vote. If there are not enough workers, a polling station will not open. It's important to honour your commitment as an election worker: your community is counting on you!

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Who can work with us

To work in a federal election, you must:

  • be a Canadian citizen (Canadian citizenship is required for election officers–that is, for all those who work at polling stations. Some positions at the Elections Canada office may not require Canadian citizenship.)
  • be at least 16 years old
  • be iKeyword: mpartial: When hired, you must sign a Keyword: solemn declaration to make official your impartiality when performing the office's duties. In doing so, you must refrain from: 1) taking part in any political activities from the beginning until the end of your work for Elections Canada; 2) working for any candidate or Keyword: political party or going to any political events or meetings. While you're on duty, you can't show or wear material that says anything good or bad about a political party or candidate. This strict impartiality and non-partisanship are key since they strengthen the confidence of electors.

The following persons may not be appointed as poll workers:

  • a federal minister or a member of the executive council of a province
  • a member of the Senate or the Keyword: House of Commons
  • a member of the Keyword: legislature of a province, the Council of the Northwest Territories or the Legislative Assembly of Yukon or Nunavut
  • a judge or deputy judge of any superior court or any bankruptcy or insolvency court or, in Yukon and the Northwest Territories, a judge of the Supreme Court
  • a person who was a candidate in the last general election or in a Keyword: by-election held since the last general election in any riding across Canada
  • a person who has served in Parliament in the session immediately before the election or in the session in progress at the time of the election
  • a person who, within seven years before the proposed appointment, was found guilty of any offence under the Canada Elections Act (CEA), the Referendum Act or provincial legislation, according to paragraph 22(3)(f) of the CEA.
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Calling all Canadians aged 16 and 17 years!

Working in a federal election is a great learning experience for students. Working at the polls will allow you to witness democracy first-hand, understand how the system works–and contribute as an active citizen. You'll be able to build your resumé and get paid (even for your training). Work is available on weekends, so it will not interfere with schooling. Simply ask the returning officer in your riding about working at the Keyword: advance polls.

Further, there are almost always extra jobs available on election night to count the advance and special ballots, or work in the office to help collect and organize all the materials being brought back from the polls.

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A: Working at a federal election during the pandemic

During a minority government, an election can be called at any time. If an election were to be called during the ongoing global COVID-19 pandemic, the next federal election would likely look and feel a bit different from the last one in 2019. Even in the midst of this crisis, the wheels of our democracy continue to turn. So, we need to make sure that we fill hundreds of thousands of election positions for the 44th federal general election. We know that election workers are the backbone of Canada's democracy. We need to ensure that we have enough people to make it happen

B: Elections Canada office jobs

Every Keyword: riding (or electoral district) in Canada has an Elections Canada office, which opens when any general election or by-election is called. The returning officer for a riding works at the Elections Canada office along with the election workers who help plan, manage budgets and resources, revise electoral lists and communicate with the public.

C: Polling Station jobs

There are election workers at each polling station who work directly with the public.

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How does the hiring of election workers proceed?

Whether you're working at an Elections Canada office, polling station, or Vote on Campus office, the hiring of election workers follows the rules in the CEA. Recruitment officers, on behalf of the returning officers, do the hiring in their riding.

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How does the training proceed?

We train all election workers at polling stations before they start to work.

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