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Elections Canada says it could take up to 5 days to count every last ballot


OTTAWA – Canadians are getting closer to Election Day, when the 36-day campaign ends and a new Parliament is inaugurated, but will there really be a clear winner on September 20?

The short answer: it’s complicated.

An Elections Canada spokesperson told CTVNews.ca on Tuesday that the increased volume of mail-in ballots will change the schedule this time around.

Local ballots, those marked and sent to returning officers by electors in their own ridings, will not begin to be counted until at least September 21 due to Elections Canada’s ballot integrity process.

“Before you start counting these ballots, there is a step that must be taken and this is called the integrity check,” said Natasha Gauthier.

This includes, among other measures, checking whether the outer envelope is signed by the voter and ensuring that the person has voted only once.

“These are all things that take a while, so we said it could take up to 24 hours for the returning officers to do these checks, these checks before they even start counting,” she said. declared.

Elections Canada can begin counting mail-in ballots, as well as ballots for the Canadian Armed Forces and incarcerated electors, up to 14 days before polling day. Returning officers can also begin counting ballots cast at local advance polls one hour before the close of polls on election night.

The organization has given out 1,000,787 voting kits to voters living in their ridings and 552,488 have been returned to date. Another 146,925 kits were sent to electors living in Canada but outside their ridings, and 54,186 were sent to those living abroad.

Of the 10 constituencies with the most special ballot kits requested, five were decided in 2019 by fewer votes than the number of special ballots requested in 2021, meaning the outcome of the vote could in theory depend of this factor.

Gauthier said the organization is also allowing voters, for the first time, to bring their mail-in ballot to their local polling station on polling day if they missed the deadline. These ballots will then be sent to the returning officer.

“In a place like Nunavut, well, the returning office is 1,000 kilometers from the polling place, so if the polls close at nine o’clock, the ballots cast will not be at the returning office. at 9:30 am they’re going to be there the next day, ”she said.

As such, Gauthier said it could take between two and five days for the count to complete and for there to be a final result. However, the media can always declare a winner in advance, if the results are clear enough for this to happen.

Elections Canada will post the results of the mail-in ballots at the end of each counting quarter, two to three times a day after September 20.

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