To the volunteers, indeed.
"It truly is the city's largest event," says Colin MacLean, the manager responsible for training at Toronto Election Services. "When you look at it on paper in the planning stage—and I wouldn't say I thought it can't be done—but it's just wow, that's so much."
Looking at the numbers, it's hard to disagree. In the run up to the big day, Election Services has printed more than two million ballots, prepared fifteen hundred voting places, and trained, over the course of seven hundred sessions, between ten and eleven thousand election workers [PDF]. Simply put: running an election in a city the size of Toronto is a colossal undertaking.
[. . .]
One of the most challenging and time-consuming parts of the process is training the thousands of election day workers necessary to operate the polls. To prepare, Election Services has to first recruit workers (this year, about a hundred) from other City departments and then instruct them on how to run the training sessions. Usually, the workers are seasoned trainers with past experience, but after four years, even they need a refresher course. Then, in the weeks leading up to the election, they're sent out across the city to run the hundreds of training sessions needed to teach election day staff.
"In our portfolio, the most difficult thing on election day is ensuring that we have enough staff in our voting places," says MacLean. "We receive many cancellations." Most of which, he continues, are filled by standby workers.
And while cancellations are a problem, this year there was no shortage of willing workers.
"We were overwhelmed with calls," explains MacLean. "We ended up organizing a wait-list as far back as June…By far, there was far more interest this year. I would say that has to do with the economy, but we also have an outreach and communications team for this election. We've never had a dedicated team for that before, so they have to get some of the credit for getting the message out to the public."