Elections Nunavut

Election Terminology

Acclamation:  A candidate wins by acclamation when they’re the only candidate in their constituency.  Nobody votes. 

Advance vote:  A way to vote before Election Day.  You vote at the polling station, 7 days before Election Day, any time from 12pm to 7pm local time.

Affected area or plebiscite area (Plebiscites): The geographic area where the plebiscite takes place and has influence. May be Nunavut-wide, a municipality, or other defined area. The writ identifies the affected area.

Affected voters or eligible voters (Plebiscites): The people within the affected area who are eligible to vote in the plebiscite. For most plebiscites this is anyone eligible to vote in an election for MLAs. For some plebiscites, the plebiscite authority may need or want other groups of Nunavummiut to vote. The writ identifies eligible voters, including any special conditions.

Affirm:  A formal, legal promise that something is true; a promise to do something; the most serious promise a person can make.  If you break this promise it’s the same as breaking the law.  Similar to declaration, oath, or swear.

Assistant Returning Officer (ARO):  The Returning Officer (RO) hires one or more AROs for their constituency.  The ARO can accept declarations of candidacy and helps the RO with all other work during the election period.

Auditor: The person that the CEO hires to review each financial return, to make sure it is complete and accurate.

Authorized representative (Plebiscites): Person appointed or designated to represent a group of petitioners, the plebiscite authority, or a registered group.

Ballot:  The official paper we use to mark our vote.  It lists the candidates’ names in alphabetical order.

Binding: A plebiscite is binding when the plebiscite authority must follow the results. The writ states if the plebiscite is binding or not. Always binding if the plebiscite is about a municipal borrowing by-law.

By-Election:  An election in only one constituency.  It happens after a general election when the Member of the Legislative Assembly’s (MLA’s) seat becomes vacant for some reason.

Campaign (Elections):  The advertising, signs, buttons, speeches, and other things a candidate uses to make people want to vote for them.

Campaign (Plebiscites): Any ads or other materials—audio, visual, digital—that promote or oppose one side of the plebiscite question.

Campaign manager:  The person who coordinates and looks after a candidate’s campaign.  The candidate appoints the campaign manager.

Campaign material: Any ads, signs, buttons, banners, posters and other things in favour of one candidate, or against other candidates.  Ads may be on radio, TV, Internet, and in newspapers.

Candidate:  An eligible voter who wants to be a Member of the Legislative Assembly (MLA), and who files a declaration of candidacy that Elections Nunavut accepts.

Chief Electoral Officer (CEO):  The CEO is in charge of Elections Nunavut.  The Commissioner of Nunavut appoints this person to oversee the Nunavut Elections Act. Elections Nunavut is all the people responsible to organize and carry out territorial elections.

Close of candidacy:  2pm local time, 31 days before Election Day.

Close of registrations: Only for a Nunavut-wide plebiscite—the deadline to register as a group with Elections Nunavut: 2:00 pm local time, 14 days before plebiscite day.

Constituency:  A geographic area and the people who live there.  The people in each constituency elect a MLA.

Contribution:  Any money, goods, and / or services a person or business gives to help elect a candidate.

Counterfoil:  The numbered tab on a ballot.  The Deputy Returning Officer (DRO) rips it off just before the ballot goes in the ballot box.

Declaration: A formal or legal statement a person makes to say something is true or they intend to do something.  If you break this promise it’s the same as breaking the law.  Declaration is similar to affirm, oath, or swear.

Declaration of candidacy: The form a person fills out to say they want to be a candidate - they want a chance to be elected as a Member of the Legislative Assembly (MLA).  They must be eligible and give a $200 deposit.  The financial agent must also sign this document.

Deputy Returning Officer (DRO):  The election officer in charge of a polling station on Election Day.  DRO make sure voters and candidates follow the laws.  They give out the ballots and count them. 

Education authority: A District Education Authority or other governing body of a school under the Education Act.

Elect:  To choose a person by voting.  During a territorial election we elect our MLAs.

Election:  The election of members to the Nunavut Legislative Assembly.  In a territorial election voters mark a secret ballot to choose a candidate to be MLA.

Election expense: Any money paid or owed during an election period, as part of a candidate’s campaign.  Includes any goods and services people contribute, and any costs of the financial agent and campaign manager. 

Elections Nunavut:  The office and staff of the CEO.  These people run and organize territorial elections.

Election Officer:  A person who works for Elections Nunavut and helps to run a territorial election.  Election Officers include Returning Officers (ROs), AROs, DROs, Poll Clerks (PCs) and Registration Clerks (RCs).

Election period:  A 35-day period that starts with the writ and ends with Election Day; the official time for the election.

Election report:  Shows how many votes each candidate got.  The RO fills it out when they review the Election Day statements of the poll.  The RO can delay the election report for up to two weeks after Election Day, if needed.

Emergency method:  A way to vote by radio or satellite phone if you’re in a remote place and meet three strict conditions; 1) you can’t get to a polling station on Election Day; 2) you can’t communicate any other way; 3) you had no other way to vote before you went to the remote place.  You must contact Elections Nunavut to organize to vote this way.

Final voters list:  This list includes all the voters that were on the list when the election started, plus those who registered during the election period.  It comes out after Election Day.

Financial agent (Elections):  The person who handles all the money for a candidate’s campaign.  The financial agent takes contributions, pays all the expenses, and helps the candidate make a financial report after the election.  The candidate appoints the financial agent; they both sign the declaration of candidacy.

Financial agent (Plebiscites): Nunavut-wide plebiscite only: The person that a registered group appoints—on their application—to manage their finances; who must complete the financial return and submit it to Elections Nunavut.

Financial return:  The official report of the campaign’s election contributions and expenses, as required under the Nunavut Elections Act.  The candidate and financial agent complete the report, sign it, and make a declaration that the information is true.

General Election:  An election for all of the constituencies.

Integrity Commissioner:  An independent officer of the Nunavut Legislative Assembly, with certain responsibilities under the Nunavut Elections Act.  The police work with the Integrity Commissioner and the CEO when they investigate a possible election crime.

Judicial recount:  A judge of the Nunavut Court counts all the ballots for a constituency again.  This happens if two candidates have the same number of votes or almost the same number – within 2% of each other.  See the Nunavut Elections Act for other ways a recount can happen.

Legislative Assembly:  The people we elect to form the Government of Nunavut and make laws for Nunavut.

Members of the Legislative Assembly (MLAs):  The people who get elected during a territorial election; the people who form the Government of Nunavut.

Mobile poll:  A way to vote if you physically can’t get out to vote.  The poll comes to you.

Non-binding or not binding: A plebiscite is non-binding when the plebiscite authority may choose to follow the results or not. The plebiscite may be a consultation tool. The writ states if the plebiscite is binding or not.

Notice of Election:  Shows the name and contact information for each candidate in a constituency, and their financial agent and campaign manager.  The CEO sends out the election notice 30 days before Election Day.

Nunavut Elections ActThe laws that Nunavummiut use to organize and run a territorial election.

Nunavut-wide plebiscite: A plebiscite where the affected area and voters is all of Nunavut.

Oath:  A formal, legal promise that something is true; a promise to do something.  Election officers take an oath to be impartial in their job; elected candidates take an oath as MLAs.  Oath is similar to affirm, declaration, or swear.

Petition: For the Plebiscites Act, a public document that asks a plebiscite authority to conduct a plebiscite. It is a request, not a demand. At least 20% of eligible voters in the affected area must sign it.

Plebiscite: A vote by secret ballot conducted under the Plebiscites Act so that a plebiscite authority can find out what Nunavummiut think about a certain issue. Separate from a liquor plebiscite conducted under the Liquor Act.

Plebiscite authority: The body or person with authority to initiate a plebiscite. The Plebiscites Act names six plebiscite authorities.

Plebiscite period: A 35-day period that starts with the writ and ends with plebiscite day; the official time for the plebiscite.

Plebiscite question: The question(s) and choice(s) set out in the writ and on the ballot that eligible voters can vote on.

Plebiscite report: Shows the number of votes for each choice. The RO fills it out when they review all the statements of the poll. The RO can delay the report for up to two weeks after plebiscite day, if needed.

Poll Clerk (PC):  An election officer who works at a polling station with the DRO.  PCs look after the polling record. 

Polling record:  A list of everyone who voted at the polling station, any changes to the voters list, and notes about everything that happens during voting.

Polling place:  The building that holds one, two, or more polling stations.  Each polling place has an ARO and Registration Clerk (RC).  And in communities like Iqaluit and Rankin Inlet the polling place holds the polling stations for more than one constituency, with an ARO and RC for each constituency.

Polling station:  The place we go to vote.

Post plebiscite period: The 60 days right after plebiscite day. Registered groups must submit their financial return before this ends.

Pre-election expense:  A campaign expense that the candidate pays for during the pre-election period.

Pre-election period:  Starts the day the Commissioner publicly announces the date of the next election; ends the day the CEO issues the writ.

Proxy vote:  A voter gets another voter to vote for them.  You apply to the RO to get a proxy certificate.  You can only vote by proxy if: 1) You are on the voters list; 2) You’re suddenly called away from your community; 3) You can’t vote any other way.

Public Notice of Election:  Elections Nunavut posts the Notice to tell everyone about the upcoming election.  It gives the dates for Election Day and early polls, contact information for ROs, and deadlines to file a Declaration of Candidacy and to object to a name on the voters list.

Registered group: Only Nunavut-wide plebiscite: A group that registers with Elections Nunavut to raise money to campaign during the plebiscite. The Act outlines who is eligible and other rules.

Registration Clerk (RC):  An election officer who works under an RO to register voters, either between elections or during an election or by-election.

Rejected Ballot:  A marked ballot that does NOT count for any candidate.  When the DRO / ARO count the ballots in the ballot box they reject a ballot for clearly defined reasons.  If a person watching the ballot count disagrees with the DRO’s / ARO’s decision, the election officers must record the objection in the polling record.

RENU:  An electronic voters list for Nunavut; stands for Register for Elections in NUnavut.

Returning Officer (RO):  The election officer in charge of a constituency.  ROs appoint AROs, DROs, PCs, and RCs for each poll.  ROs oversee everything about the election in their constituency.

Special ballot:  A way to vote by mail if you’re away at school, on vacation, in hospital, at a treatment centre, or in jail.  Other voters can use a special ballot if they need or want to.  Voters must apply to Elections Nunavut to get a special ballot.  They receive a package, follow the directions, and mail the ballot back in a special envelope.

Spoiled ballot:  A way to vote by mail if you’re away at school, on vacation, in hospital, at a treatment centre, or in jail.  Other voters can use a special ballot if they need or want to.  Voters must apply to Elections Nunavut to get a special ballot.  They receive a package, follow the directions, and mail the ballot back in a special envelope.

Statement of the Poll:  The official Elections Nunavut form that shows the number of votes for each candidate for that poll.

Stub: The numbered part of each ballot that stays with the book of ballots.  When the DRO tears each ballot from the book, the stub stays in the book.

Swear:  A formal, religious promise that something is true; a promise to do something; the most serious promise you can make.  If you break this promise it’s like breaking the law.  A person gives their word and swears on the Bible that something is true.  Swear is similar to affirm, declaration, or oath.

Vote:  Voters mark a secret ballot in a territorial election.  They choose the candidate in their constituency that they want to elect as their MLA.

Voters list:  The list of voters that Elections Nunavut prepares for each constituency.  They send a copy to each candidate when the election period starts, and update it 20 days before Election Day.

Voting in the Returning Officer’s office (VOR):  A way to vote before Election Day.  You vote at the RO’s Office from 14 days before Election Day to 4 days before Election Day,    12pm – 7pm local time.

Witness:  A person who signs a document to say that another person’s signature is truly their signature.  For example, someone other than the candidate and financial agent must witness their signatures on a Declaration of Candidacy.

Writ (Elections): The official notice to say there is an election.  The CEO sends it to each RO.  Each RO posts the writ in their office.

Writ (Plebiscites): The official notice to say there is a plebiscite. The CEO sends it to each RO. Each RO posts the writ in their office. The return of the writ is the back side. It shows the plebiscite results. The RO fills it out and sends it to the CEO after plebiscite day.

The return of the writ is the backside of the writ.  It shows who won the election.  The RO fills it out and sends it to the CEO after Election Day.  If a candidate wins by acclamation the RO fills out the return of the writ right away.