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Voting in By-elections by Canadian Forces Electors

(See Voting by Special Ballot for Canadian Forces Electors, EC 90550, for general elections and referendums.)

Canadian Forces electors may vote by special ballot in a by-election that takes place in the electoral district that contains their address, as shown on their Statement of Ordinary Residence (SOR). Voting by special ballot is governed by the Special Voting Rules, Part 11 of the Canada Elections Act (the Act). Canadian Forces electors who are residing in the electoral district of the address shown on their SOR at the time of a by-election may also vote at the civilian polling station established for that address, provided they have not already voted by special ballot.

Canadian Forces electors are Canadian citizens who have reached the age of 18 on civilian polling day and are members of the Canadian Forces or teachers or administrative support staff in Canadian Forces schools outside Canada.

People living with members of the Canadian Forces outside Canada are not included in the category of Canadian Forces electors, but may vote as Canadians residing outside Canada (see Voting by Special Ballot in By-elections, EC 90706).


The Department of National Defence keeps a permanent register of Canadian Forces electors. When they enroll, each CF member completes a Statement of Ordinary Residence that determines the electoral district for which his or her vote will be counted.

Manner of voting

When a by-election is called, Elections Canada sends a personalized special ballot voting kit to every Canadian Forces elector whose SOR lists an address in the electoral district where the by-election is taking place. In some cases, for example, if the elector is on peacekeeping duty, the kit may be sent to the commanding officer of his or her unit to forward. Unit commanding officers also forward the kits to electors who are away from their units on duty, leave or furlough during a by-election.

The elector must obtain the names of the candidates running in his or her electoral district. The names are available on the Elections Canada website or can be obtained by calling the telephone numbers listed below, or through Canadian diplomatic missions and consular posts after the candidates have been confirmed, 19 days before election day. Elections Canada sends the lists of candidates to all commanding officers.

To vote, the elector must first complete and sign the declaration on the outer envelope included in the voting kit. The declaration states that his or her name is as shown on the envelope and that he or she has not already voted in the by-election that is under way. The elector then completes the ballot by writing on it the name of one of the candidates in his or her electoral district and inserts the ballot into the series of envelopes according to the instructions provided.

Finally, the elector is responsible for ensuring that Elections Canada in Ottawa receives the ballot no later than 6:00 p.m., Eastern time, on election day. Electors may mail the ballots themselves or forward them through their unit commanding officers. Ballots must be returned in the envelopes provided. A ballot received by any other means, including fax, cannot be counted. The Act also prohibits counting ballots received after the deadline.

Instead of voting by special ballot, a Canadian Forces elector who is residing in the electoral district of the address on his or her SOR may vote at the civilian polling station assigned to that address, provided that he or she has not already voted and continues to reside in the same electoral district until election day.

Results of Voting by Special Ballot

Counting the votes

The ballots of Canadian Forces electors received at Elections Canada in Ottawa before 6:00 p.m. on election day are counted at the same time as those of Canadian residents absent from their electoral districts or residing outside Canada and incarcerated electors. As soon as the special ballots are counted at Elections Canada in Ottawa, the Special Voting Rules Administrator informs the Chief Electoral Officer of the results of the special ballot vote for each electoral district involved in a by-election.

For more information, please contact:

Elections Canada
30 Victoria Street
Gatineau, Quebec
K1A 0M6


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November 2017