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Though we say that democracy has no price, the reality is that organizing and conducting a general election, which is a principle expression of democracy, necessarily implies major costs.

Among such election expenses are the salaries paid to the thousands of citizens hired prior and during elections to ensure that voting proceeds smoothly and fairly in all the 65,000 polling stations in federal electoral districts across the country.

Other expenses include the reimbursement of monies spent during an election and for the provision and dissemination of all the necessary information needed by Canadian voters.

So, how much does a federal general election cost Canadian taxpayers?

ORGANIZATION COSTS

(in millions of dollars) (current dollars; not adjusted for inflation)

39th general election in 2006 (estimate)

38thgeneral election in 2004

37th general election in 2000

Activities tied to conducting elections in the ridings1      126.1 108.0 89.4
Activities by Elections Canada in Ottawa tied to preparing for and holding a vote2                   92.8 110.6 86.3
Reimbursing election expenses of candidates and political parties      53.7 56.2 24.9
Total cost      272.6 274.8 200.6

1 Including costs of hiring election officers and poll officials, printing lists of electors, and renting offices for the returning officers and polling stations.

2 Including election material, training for returning officers and other staff, update of the National Register of Electors, advertising and awareness campaigns, the support network and information technology.