The Electoral System of Canada
Canada's electoral system is the outcome of a 140-year process through which Canadians have progressively overcome exclusions from the franchise and barriers to voting to achieve the universal, constitutionally guaranteed rights to vote and to be a candidate in a legislative election.
At election time, public attention tends naturally to focus on the excitement of the political campaigns, taking for granted the administrative machinery that surrounds and supports voting. Yet the practical measures that ensure access to the franchise – such as multilingual election information, level access at polling stations, mobile polls, special ballots and advance polls – are just as important as the letter of the law in safeguarding the right to vote.
The Electoral System of Canada explains how this administrative machinery works at the federal level. It begins with a look at Canada's parliamentary system and outlines the electoral process, including what happens behind the scenes at Elections Canada, and the role and activities of the agency. The book also outlines the main characteristics of by-elections and referendums, describes how electoral boundaries are re-drawn and summarizes the regulatory framework for political financing.
Elections Canada's aim is to support the informed participation of every citizen in our country's democratic process. Promoting the values behind our democratic institutions becomes even more significant in light of the declining voter participation generally observed over the last decades. The exercise of the right to vote, which is enshrined in law, would be meaningless if it did not seek to express the informed will of the people.
Chief Electoral Officer of Canada