With years of experience playing secretary in my underground ‘office,’ I’ve become a master at clerical work. Starting at the age of four, I was single-handedly operating a corporate office, a grade school, and a library with my trusty chalkboard, unplugged rotary phone, and two stuffed dolls, Harriet and Sally acting as my audience. Back then, I wanted to be a manager, a teacher, and a librarian, and while my career path is steering me in a different direction, Elections Canada helped me fulfill my dreams as a clerk.

Acting as secretary & operator at the Fort Erie Train Museum

Despite the consensus around Canada’s recent federal election being a waste of time and money, I reaped the benefits of this opportunity not only to cast my vote but to work as a Deputy Returning Officer for a Niagara riding. While I don’t disagree with how the majority of Canadians are feeling, I am proud to be Canadian and, therefore, proud to serve my country in its election process.

So, what does a Deputy Returning Officer (DRO) do exactly?

A DRO is the person who verifies your ID, crosses your name off the list of voters, and issues you your ballot. It’s a relatively simple process even when you have to fill out registration forms for unregistered voters, make corrections in Elections Canada voter information, and conduct hourly reporting. While voting stations are typically open for 12 hours, the DRO is also responsible for counting the ballots after the polls have closed, adding 3 to 4 hours more onto your day.

Even though it was a long day, I worked with a great team of people, including my brother, who were friendly and supportive throughout the entire process.

After a 3-hour training session weeks before the election, I was overwhelmed with information and concerned whether I’d be able to remember it all. On the day of the election, I had nothing to worry about. I enjoyed every minute of being able to appreciate everyone who came out and voted, issue ballots with a perfected speech on how to mark your candidate of choice, and be accountable for my ballot box and the ballot count.

Every voter who came to my station was friendly, patient, and behaved as instructed. Regardless of who anyone voted for, everyone was trying to do what they thought was right. Ever since I became eligible to vote, I voted. While I thank everyone who did go out to vote, voter turnout was 59% across Canada.1 While this is not surprising in comparison to previous years, it is worrisome as Parliament of Canada and government, in general, should ideally represent the entire population.

Many people don’t like following politics because it’s messy, stressful, and controversial; however, I believe it’s important to stay informed on the issues you want your government to address. You don’t have to read the news every day to understand what’s going on but try to stay relatively connected to avoid ignorance. You can stay informed through traditional news, Twitter, or other sources, but make sure you cross-reference your media to get the full story, understand different perspectives, and have a well-educated view on the issue at hand.

While discussions about this election were brewing for months, parliament was only dissolved a month before the election, fast-tracking the campaigning process and not giving adequate time for many voters to consider their candidate.

Despite such controversies of this election, I am incredibly thankful for the opportunity to work as a DRO for Elections Canada. The next relevant election for me will be Ontario’s 43rd general election held on June 2, 2022, and I look forward to another opportunity to be a poll worker with Elections Ontario.

There are many roles and responsibilities involved in the election process; if you are interested in becoming a poll worker in Ontario or Canada, please reach out as it is a great opportunity to represent your community.  

For the numbers and results of the 2021 Canadian federal election, click here.

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