Municipal Elections

Frequently Asked Questions



"A person who is deceased but is still on the voter’s list, can that person be removed from the voters list?"

Yes. The local authority may ask the Registrar to update the list of voters on either a periodic or a continuous basis, by adding the names of new residents, new voters who will turn 18 years of age and removing persons who have moved or are deceased. 

Council Ability to Make Financial Decisions during an Election

Section 95 of the Hamlets Act limits the Council power during the period beginning on election day and ending on the first day the term of new council begins.

Residency Requirements - Living Outside Home Community

“Someone told me that they were born and raised in the community. Last year, because of the lack of employment opportunities, they took a job in another community. It has always been their intention to return to the community. Are they eligible to vote?”

Probably not. To be able to vote a person must be ordinarily resident in the community. Persons who are attending school, who are incarcerated, or who are institutionalized are still considered to be ordinarily resident. Persons who take employment outside the community but still maintain a residence in the community may be ordinarily resident depending on the conditions of the employment. Mine shift workers are clearly still ordinarily resident, but if the conditions of employment are not tied to a fixed period of work then a person’s ordinary residence would have changed. “Snow birds” or persons who take long absences are still considered ordinarily resident if that absence is less than six months.

Residency Requirements - New Residents

“A person claims that they left the community only three months ago and so have not been resident in their new community long enough to vote there. Can they still vote in this community?”

No. Giving up residency is not determined by how long a person has been away. It is determined by the act of taking up a new residence. An extreme example would be a voter who leaves their community the day before the Election Day with the expectation of establishing a new home. This person would no longer be ordinarily resident.

Dispute over Residency or other Eligible Criteria

“I have doubts about a person’s nomination/voter eligibility; however, they believe they are eligible.  What do I need to do to resolve this?”

The right to vote or be a candidate is a basic right. If the returning officer doubts a person’s eligibility a person may be required to sign a statutory declaration confirming their eligibility. This document, sworn before the Returning Officer or a Commissioner for Oaths, has the same weight as an oath sworn before a Judge. Accordingly, a false declaration can result in criminal charges.


“I have heard that candidates are not allowed to campaign on Election Day or on the Advance Vote Day. What are the restrictions on campaigning during these days?”

Candidates can campaign at any time. This may be different from Federal and Territorial elections. The only rule that restricts campaigning on these days has to do with the placement of campaign materials such as posters, signs, buttons, pamphlets, etc. None of these can be within 25 metres of the voting station. Voters have to remember to take off their campaign buttons when they go to vote. While a vehicle may have a campaign poster on it and while a candidate may offer rides to the voting station in that same vehicle, the vehicle is not to be parked near the voting station.

Proxy Votes

“I know that some of the candidates have been soliciting proxy votes from voters who will not be able to vote at the Advance Vote, Election Day or by one of the other alternative voting methods. Is this permitted?”

Yes. Candidates and their supporters are allowed to contact people and offer them proxy application forms. It should be noted that a voter can exercise a maximum of three proxies. While this is one way to process proxy vote applications, it is strongly suggested that proxy applicants contact the Returning Officer directly with their intention so that the Returning Officer can help guide them through the completion of the application. It should be noted that once a proxy is given, there is no way anyone can guarantee that the proxy voter has voted the wishes of the applicant voter.

Voter Eligibility

“I know a voter who is incarcerated and wants to vote. What are the options and the process?”

Voters who are incarcerated and still ordinarily resident are eligible to vote in municipal elections. There are two possible ways to do this:

  1. by proxy or
  2. where the municipality has adopted an elections bylaw, by mail-in ballot.

Officials in the Justice Department’s Corrections Division are routinely informed about up-coming municipal elections, and this information is relayed to the individual institutions and through them to the inmates.

"Is a person eligible to vote when they are away to school or out for medical treatment? And if eligible how can they vote?"

A local authority that is a municipality may, by bylaw, provide voting alternatives to the means of voting, voting may be undertaken by:

  • mail-in ballot;
  • the casting of ballots at the office of the returning officer; or
  • Proxy

The person who is eligible to vote and away for school or out for medical purposes should contact their local authority to determine if they have a bylaw to allow for these voting alternatives and if so, the procedures to vote.

Faxed or Scanned Forms

“Someone has a form that needs to get to me. Can they send it to me electronically?”

Yes. However, you, the Returning Officer, may demand some proof to confirm who is sending the form to ensure that the form is legitimate and not a forgery. It is the Returning Officer’s discretion to decide what form of proof is acceptable so that the Returning Officer can be confident in accepting the form. It is recommended that the transmittal of forms electronically only be done if it is impossible to do it in person. In person submissions ensure that any errors in the form can be corrected quickly and reduce the risk that the form will be rejected.

Candidate Eligibility - Councillor, Community Government Employee, Contractor or a Person Indebted

"A Councillor whose term of office is not up for election wants to run in the election for Mayor, can they run and what is the process? "

A Councillor in a Hamlet or Charter community can run for both Mayor and Councillor.  A Councillor’s whose term of office does not expire in which a general election is held must submit his or her resignation from the municipal council before notice of nominations of candidates is given.  The resignation becomes effective 21 days after the election.


"An employee of the Hamlet is thinking of running for mayor and/or councillor, does this person have to resign their position by a certain date?"

The employee of the Hamlet would have to resign before nominations open to be eligible to run in the election.


"An individual has a service contract with the Hamlet to deliver water, sewer and/or garbage and is interested in running for Mayor and/or Councillor in a municipal election.  Are they eligible to run in the election and would it be a conflict of interest?"

Yes, the person would be eligible if they meet the criteria in section 18 (1), of the Local Authorities Elections Act and not disqualified by any other eligibility sections in the Local Authorities Elections Act. 

If the person is elected, the member would have to disclose their conflict of interest, leave the meeting room, and not vote on the matter. Neither can the Council member attempt at any time to influence the voting before, during or after the meeting. The Council member needs to continuously declare conflict at all subsequent meetings when the matter comes up. 


"Is a person eligible to be a candidate if they owe money to the GNWT?"

Yes they would be eligible.  The only regulation that makes a person ineligible to be a candidate is if they owe money to the Local Authority as stated in the Local Authority Elections Act.

Voter's Identification

“I heard that a voter needs to produce photographic identification to vote. Is this true?”

Not necessarily. Election Officials have to be confident that persons receiving a ballot are eligible voters. If they know that a voter is the person they claim to be, then Election Officials do not require any further proof. If they do not know the voter, the voter may produce some identification acceptable to the Election Officials or failing that, get someone who is trusted by the Election Officials to vouch for the voter’s identity. Failing that, a voter can provide a statutory declaration.

Election Officials - Relatives

“Some of the election officials are related to some of the candidates. I thought you can’t be working on an election if you are related to a candidate.”

The Returning Officer is appointed by the Council or failing the appointment, it is the SAO. Other Election Officials are sworn in by the Returning Officer. There is nothing to prohibit the Council from appointing a Returning Officer who may be related to a potential candidate, nor for a Returning Officer to select other officials who may be related to candidates except common sense. Of course, it is difficult, particularly in most of our communities, to find good officials who are not related to one or more of the candidates.

Election Officials - Community Government Employees

“I thought election officials could not be employees of the community government.”

There is no such prohibition. Many of the Councils do appoint staff to run elections as both a cost-saving measure and to provide continuity of election expertise. In fact, in the absence of a Council appointed Returning Officer, the SAO is expected to take on this role under the election law. While some people are concerned about election officials having a bias for a particular candidate, there are a number of safe guards including the presence of candidates or their agents at the voting station and at the vote count to ensure that any tampering with the election would be very difficult.


“I heard that the election procedures can be modified by a Council approved bylaw. What are the kinds of things that Council can change?”

  • Council can authorize the Returning Officer to allow for voting in the Returning Officer’s office. This can be within the period of time allowed for an Advance Vote. It can be used either in addition to the Advance Vote or in place of an Advance Vote.
  • Council can authorize the use of ballot counting machines.
  • Council can authorize mail-in ballots for absent voters.
  • Council can decide that tie votes be decided in a run-off by-election instead of drawing a name.
  • Council can demand that candidates provide information at the end of the election regarding who gave them campaign contributions.

Counting the Vote

“A number of people have asked me who can be at the voting station while the vote is being counted.”

All sworn election officials, the candidates or in their place, their agent, are permitted to be at the vote count. The Returning Officer may have peace officers present for the purpose of maintaining the order and security. Ordinary citizens and the media are not permitted to be at the count (or the recount). 

Voting for less than the Number of Vacancies

“Can a voter vote for less than the number of vacancies? Is such a ballot spoiled?”

A voter does not have to vote for all of the seats available and the ballot is not spoiled. Voting for more than the number of vacancies does result in a spoiled ballot.

Voting Alternatives & Assistance

"Is it required to have 2 election officials conducting the mobile station?"

No, it is not required.  The Returning Officer may have the Deputy Returning Officer to conduct the vote for the mobile station.

"Can a spouse or family member assist a blind family member to vote?"

Yes, a person authorized by the Deputy Returning Officer may assist a voter who is blind, unable to read or understand the ballot, or otherwise disabled to such an extent that it prevents the person from casting a ballot, may have a person assist him or her in cashing his or her ballot.

Advance Vote

“Do I have to conduct an advance vote?”

The decision whether or not to have an advance vote and when to have one is made by the Council, and it is not within the discretion of the Returning Officer.

Election Result Challenges

“Some people are not satisfied with the results of the election. Some have complained about the vote count and others have complaints about possible errors in the process. How do I advise them?”

If there are errors while the voting is still taking place, you, the Returning Officer, can recommend to the Chief Municipal Electoral Officer that the election be stopped in whole or in part. The Chief Municipal Electoral Officer will direct you how to proceed.

If the concerns happen after the voting ends, the options are recount or judicial review. A candidate can request a recount within 72 hours, and if you feel it is appropriate, you can conduct a new count. If a voter is dissatisfied with the count, they can request within 14 days a judge to conduct a recount.

If the concern has to do with the election process (rules were not followed), a voter or the local authority can petition the court to review the election to determine if the results should stand or if a new election is warranted.

Tie Votes

“After the automatic recount, there was still a tie vote between two candidates for the last seat on the council. I drew a name to determine the winner. A lot of voters thought this was a bad way to make this decision. What other option could I use?”

In municipalities that have adopted an elections bylaw stating that tie votes must go to a run-off election, you do not draw a name. Unfortunately, if there is no bylaw authorizing this option, then your only option is to draw a name.