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Elections Canada has compiled a glossary of electoral terms and pictures. Click on a letter below to move to the terms that begin with that letter, or simply use your browser's scroll bar to view all of them.


Special ballot (bulletin de vote spécial)

A ballot that can be sent in by mail, or filled in at the local Elections Canada office, for use by electors who cannot go to their polling stations. An elector must first apply to Elections Canada for registration before 6:00 p.m. on the sixth day before polling day. The special ballot differs from a regular ballot in that the elector writes in the name of his or her preferred candidate.

Special ballot coordinator (coordonnateur des bulletins de vote spéciaux)

The staff member in the office of the returning officer who assists electors to register and vote by special ballot.


Targeted revision (révision ciblée)

Part of the process of updating the lists of electors during the revision period of an electoral event. Pairs of revising agents visit areas of high mobility, including new subdivisions, apartment buildings and student residences, as well as nursing homes and chronic care hospitals, to register electors who are not yet on the lists. A mail-in registration package is left for residents who are not at home.

Third party (tiers)

Any person or group, except a candidate, registered party or electoral district association of a registered party, that incurs election advertising expenses to support or oppose a registered party or the election of a candidate. Third parties that spend $500 or more for election advertising must register with the Chief Electoral Officer and disclose their contributions and election spending.

Transfer certificate (certificat de transfert)

A document issued by the returning officer or assistant returning officer that enables an elector to vote at a different polling station than the one to which he or she is assigned. Normally used in the rare cases when a polling station does not have level access and the elector requires such access.


Universal suffrage (suffrage universel)

The extension of the right to vote to all adult citizens.



See Elector.

Image of Voter Information Card

Voter information card (carte d'information de l'électeur)

A card that Elections Canada sends during an election campaign to every elector whose name appears on the preliminary lists of electors. It tells electors when and where they can cast their ballots on election day or at the advance polls. A card is also sent to every elector who is added to the list of electors during the revision period.

Voter registration desk (bureau d'inscription)

Located at the election day polling stations, it is the place for electors to register to vote if their names are not already on the list of electors. It is staffed by a registration officer, who fills out a registration certificate. Electors must provide acceptable proof of identity and residence, and sign the certificate. An elector who can prove identity but not address may swear a written oath of residence, attested to by another elector registered in the same polling division.

Voters list

See List of electors.

Voting screen (isoloir)

At the polling station, the privacy barrier that shields from view the place where a voter goes to mark the ballot. There should be nothing on the table behind the voting screen but a pencil for use in marking the ballot.

Voting template (gabarit de vote)

A plastic ballot holder designed to help voters with a visual disability mark the ballot.


Writ of election (or writ of by-election or writ of referendum) (bref d'élection ou bref d'élection partielle ou bref référendaire)

The document signed by the Chief Electoral Officer that instructs the returning officer in an electoral district to conduct an election (or referendum) on a specific date. After the election, the returning officer writes the name of the winning candidate on the writ, signs it, and returns it to the Chief Electoral Officer.