Step 5: Counting and Results

< Step 4: Voting

Two women counting ballots - Deux femmes comptant des bulletins de vote

Once the polls close, it is time to count the ballots and find out who won. During this time, the doors of the polling station are locked: no one is allowed to enter or leave until the counting is done.

  • First, Elections Canada officials open the ballot boxes and count the ballots. 
  • The deputy returning officer records the number of votes for each candidate on a Statement of the Vote. They also record the number of rejected ballots. 
  • The ballots and other election documents are sealed in the ballot box and delivered to the returning officer.

In most cases, a clear winner emerges after the ballots are counted, but sometimes the vote count is very close or even tied. If there is a tie or a close vote, the ballots need to be counted again in a judicial recount. For example, in an electoral district with 40,000 votes cast, a judicial recount would be required if a candidate won by fewer than 40 votes. A judge presides over these recounts.

For some Canadians, the most exciting part of the election process is the announcing of the results.

  • On election night, once the polls in a riding are closed, preliminary results are announced and published on Elections Canada’s website as they become available. 
  • These results are shared by media outlets, such as TV stations, newspapers and social media.
  • Every returning officer validates the results and announces the validated results to the candidates.

Did you know? Canada’s voting system is called “first past the post.” This means the candidate who gets the most votes wins.

Step 6: Parliament Resumes >