Voting in a Federal By-election
In a federal election, we choose members of Parliament (MPs) to represent us in Ottawa. A by-election occurs when a seat in the House of Commons becomes vacant between general elections because the sitting MP passed away, resigns or becomes ineligible to sit for some other reason. More than one by-election may be held at the same time.
To vote in a federal by-election, you must:
- be a Canadian citizen
- be at least 18 years old on election day
- prove your identity and address, and
- live in the electoral district where the by-election is taking place (from the start of revision – which normally begins on the fourth day after the by-election is called – until election day)
When you vote, you must prove your identity and address (for a list of accepted documents, click here).
You have three options:
- Show one original piece of identification issued by a Canadian government, whether federal, provincial or local, or an agency of that government, that contains your photo, name and address (for example, a driver's licence); or
- Show two pieces of identification from a list authorized by the Chief Electoral Officer of Canada. Both must have your name and one must also have your address (such as a health card and hydro bill); or
- If you have two pieces of identification but can't prove where you live, you may have your residence attested to by another elector who knows you, who lives in the same polling division as you, and is on the list of electors or is registering to vote (for example, a neighbour or your roommate who has proof of identification and address). In this case, you must both take a written oath.
Note: Pieces of identification must be in either English or French. In Nunavut, pieces of identification will also be accepted in Inuktitut. Expired documents are accepted.
Make sure you are on the list of electors
Elections Canada produces the preliminary lists of electors from information in the National Register of Electors. Shortly after the by-election is called, Elections Canada will mail a voter information card to everyone on the list of electors. Please carefully read the card you receive and make sure that your name and address are correct.
- If your name and address are correct, keep the card. It shows that you are registered to vote, and tells you when and where to vote.
- If your name and address on the card are not correct, you will need to call Elections Canada. You will find the phone number of your local Elections Canada office on the back of your voter information card.
If you do not receive a voter information card, it may mean that you are not registered on the list of electors. You can also register at the polling station during advance polls or on election day, but to save time, register ahead of election day. For more information on how to register to vote, call Elections Canada at 1-800-463-6868. Remember, to vote you must prove your identity and address.
For more information on how to register to vote, call Elections Canada at 1-800-463-6868.
There are three ways you can vote
1. On election day
- If you have a voter information card, take it with you when you go to vote at the polling station at the address shown on the card.
- If you don't have a voter information card, and you didn't register earlier, you can still register to vote at the polling station on election day by proving your identity and address, as described above. You can find your poll location through Elections Canada's Voter Information Service or call Elections Canada at 1-800-463-6868.
2. At an advance poll
- If you don't wish to vote on election day, you can vote earlier at an advance poll. The voter information card tells you the dates and address. Take it with you to the polling station. If you need to, you can also register at the advance poll.
3. Vote by special ballot
You can vote by special ballot if you can't go to your polling station to vote (either on election day or at the advance polls) or for any other reason. You can get a special ballot registration form from your local Elections Canada office, from the Elections Canada website, or by calling Elections Canada. If you want to vote by special ballot, apply early. The last day to request a special ballot is 6:00 p.m. on the sixth day before election day.
Once you apply for a special ballot, you can only vote that way, and cannot vote at the advance polls or on election day. If you request a voting kit and do not receive it, contact Elections Canada in Gatineau.
Electors wearing face coverings
If an elector wearing a face covering comes to vote, the deputy returning officer will ask the elector to show their face. If the elector agrees to remove their face covering, the election officer will follow regular voting procedures. Election officers have been instructed to exercise respect and sensitivity in following this administrative procedure.
If the elector does not wish to remove their face covering, the deputy returning officer will advise the elector that they must provide two pieces of authorized identification, one proving their identity and the other proving their identity and address, and then take an oath attesting to their eligibility to vote. If the elector agrees to provide the identification and take the oath, the election officer will follow regular voting procedures.
If the elector refuses to uncover their face and also refuses to provide two pieces of identification and take an oath, they will not be permitted to vote.
Are you ready to vote? It's your future!