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FAQs on Voting

How and where to vote

Time off work to vote

Voter ID

Who may vote

Polling place

Why voting matters

Canadian Forces voters and their relatives


How and where to vote

How do I vote – what are my options?

Please see:

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I'm a Canadian elector living abroad. How do I vote?

Please see the backgrounder Registration and Voting Processes for Canadians Who Live Abroad.

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I live in Canada but will be out of my riding on election day. How do I vote?

(Applies to travellers and students away from home)

If your residence is in Canada but you will be out of your riding on election day, you have two choices:

1) You can vote at advance polls. They are held on the tenth, ninth and seventh day before election day, from 12 noon to 8:00 p.m.

2) You can vote by special ballot. If your residence is in Canada, you can apply to vote by special ballot after an election call (not before).

Once an election is called, you will be able to get a special ballot application form from this Web site, by calling 1-800-463-6868, at any Elections Canada office or at any Canadian embassy, high commission or consulate.

a) Vote by special ballot from within your riding.
With this option, you can vote:

  • in person at your local Elections Canada office throughout most of the election period
  • by mailing your special ballot to your local Elections Canada office

To vote by special ballot, apply before 6:00 p.m. (local time) on the Tuesday before election day.

If we accept your application and proof of identity and address, we will mail you a special ballot voting kit that explains how to vote. If you apply in person at your local Elections Canada office, we will hand you the kit you can vote right away, or vote later by mail or by returning in person to your local Elections Canada office.

Your completed ballot must be received at your local Elections Canada office before the polls close on election day in your riding. By law, we cannot accept late application forms and we cannot count late ballots.

Once you have registered to vote by special ballot, you cannot vote another way.

b) Vote by special ballot from outside your riding.
This option applies to people whose residence is in Canada but who are travelling outside their riding, in Canada or abroad (e.g., snowbirds, students living away from home to attend university).

With this option, you can vote by mail from anywhere in Canada or the world. To vote by special ballot from outside your riding:

Apply ASAP after an election is called. Allow enough time for a special ballot voting kit to reach you and for your ballot to travel back to Ottawa.

We must receive your application and documents proving your identity and address by the Tuesday before election day:

  • in person at any Elections Canada office before 6:00 p.m. (local time), or
  • by fax or by mail sent to Elections Canada in Ottawa, before 6:00 p.m. (Eastern Time)

Once we process and accept your application, we mail you a special ballot voting kit (or hand it to you, if you apply in person at an Elections Canada office). Your kit explains how to vote.

Your completed ballot must be received at Elections Canada in Ottawa before 6:00 p.m. (Eastern Time) on election day. By law, we cannot accept late application forms and we cannot count late ballots.

Once you have registered to vote by special ballot, you cannot vote another way.

Learn more about voting by special ballot (voting by mail).

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I'm homeless. How do I vote?

Eligible electors who are homeless or have no fixed address are welcome to register and vote.

Everyone who votes must prove their identity and address. This page lists all the types of proof of identity and address accepted at the polls.

Here are some of the ways you can prove your identity and address at the polls:

For more information, please contact Elections Canada at 1-800-463-6868.

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I live in a hospital or long-term care facility. How can I vote?

Eligible electors who live in hospitals and facilities that provide long-term care may have the extra option of voting at a mobile polling station in their residence.

Elections Canada offers mobile polling stations in some residences and hospital wards. If required, we transport the ballot box from room to room to facilitate voting.

Everyone who votes must prove their identity and address. This page lists all the kinds of proof of address and identity accepted at mobile polls.

Here are some ways to prove your identity and address:

For more information, please contact Elections Canada at 1-800-463-6868.

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Time off work to vote

Am I allowed time off work to vote?

By law, qualified electors must have three consecutive hours to cast their vote on election day. If your hours of work do not allow for three consecutive hours to vote, your employer must give you time off.

For example, if you live in a riding where voting hours are 9:30 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. and you usually work from 11:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m., your hours of work will not allow three consecutive hours for voting. To give you three consecutive hours to vote, your employer could allow you to arrive late (at 12:30 p.m.), let you leave early (at 6:30 p.m.), or give you three hours off at some point during the work day.

Your employer has the right to decide when the time off will be given.

This rule may not apply if you work in the transportation industry.

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Are all employers required to give time off work to vote?

Yes, the law applies to all employers. However, for employers in the transportation industry, the obligation to provide three consecutive hours off to vote does not apply if these four conditions are met:

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Who decides when employees may take time off work to vote?

Your employer has the right to decide when in the day to give this time off.

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Can an employee lose pay for taking time off to vote?

No.

Employers cannot impose a penalty or deduct pay from an employee who is taking time off to vote if required by the Canada Elections Act. An employee must be paid what he or she would have earned during the time allowed off for voting.

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Is there a penalty for employers who do not give employees time off to vote?

Yes.

It is an offence for employers to fail to provide time off for voting if required under the Canada Elections Act.

It is also an offence for an employer to reduce an employee's pay where the employee has been provided time off to vote in accordance with the Act. The maximum penalty for violating these prohibitions is a fine of up to $1,000, three months imprisonment, or both.

It is also an offence for an employer to use intimidation, undue influence, or any other means to interfere with the granting of time off to vote under the Canada Elections Act. The maximum penalty for violating this provision is a fine of up to $5,000, five years imprisonment, or both.

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Voter ID

What kind of proof of address and identity must I show at the polls?

This page lists types of proof of address and identity accepted at the polls.

If you don't have documents to prove your identity and address, you can take an oath and get someone you know to vouch for you. That person has to be an eligible elector in the same polling division as you, and he or she must show authorized documents that prove his or her identity and address.

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Who may vote

Who is eligible to vote in the federal election and referendums?

You may vote in this federal election if you:

The Canada Elections Act includes detailed information on who is eligible to vote.

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My income tax form asked if I want to share some of my information with Elections Canada, and I answered "no." Do I still have the right to vote?  

Yes. If you are eligible to vote, you may vote.  

On federal income tax forms, there is the question "As a Canadian citizen, do you authorize the Canada Revenue Agency to give your name, address, date of birth, and citizenship to Elections Canada to update the National Register of Electors?". If you answered "no" to this question but you are eligible to vote, you still have the right to vote.

Saying "no" to this question on your income tax form does not remove your name from the National Register of Electors if it was already listed there.

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I'm serving a prison sentence. Can I vote?

Yes.

Canadians who will be 18 years of age or older on polling day and who are in a correctional institution or a federal penitentiary in Canada may vote by special ballot. Once an election is called, a staff member in each institution is appointed as a liaison officer and helps prisoners register and vote. The liaison officer can answer your questions about voting and help you register.

Learn more about voting by incarcerated electors (voting in prisons).

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Polling place

What can I expect when I go to my polling site to vote?

This on-line booklet explains what to expect when you go to vote, the roles of election workers, and the meaning of election words:

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Why voting matters

Why should I vote?

Your vote is the way you choose someone to represent you in Canada's Parliament. By expressing your choice, you are exercising a democratic right that is key to the democratic process of government that generations of Canadians have fought to build. For more information, see A History of the Vote in Canada.

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Canadian Forces voters and their relatives

I'm in the Canadian Armed Forces. How do I vote?

If you are a:

...then you can vote under the special voting rules for Canadian Forces electors.

To vote under these rules, you must complete a Statement of Ordinary Residence (SOR). The address you provide on this form determines the riding for which your vote will be counted.

During a general election, you will vote by special ballot at a polling station set up in your unit. During a by-election, Elections Canada will mail a special ballot voting kit to you at your unit's postal address.

Learn more about the special voting rules for Canadian Forces electors.

Family members living with Canadian Forces personnel stationed overseas cannot vote under the special voting rules for Canadian Forces electors. They have other options: get voting information for spouses and children of Canadian Forces personnel.

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I am living with a member of the Canadian Forces. I am away from home. How do I vote?

As a Canadian citizen temporarily away from your riding, inside or outside Canada, you can vote by special ballot learn more.

By law, the only people who may vote at polling stations established for Canadian Forces units are members of the Canadian Forces and civilians employed outside Canada by the Canadian Forces as teachers or administrative support staff at a Canadian Forces school.

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What is a Statement of Ordinary Residence, used by Canadian Forces electors?

The Statement of Ordinary Residence (SOR) is a form that designates your address for voting purposes. The address you provide on this form determines the riding in which your vote will be counted, regardless of where you may be stationed in Canada or around the world.

You can vote only for a candidate running in the riding stated in your SOR.

An SOR is usually completed upon enrolment in the Canadian Forces, or upon being placed on active service. You must complete the SOR suited to your category of Canadian Forces elector:

If you have not yet completed this form, you can complete your Statement of Ordinary Residence on-line. Print your completed form and present it to your unit's orderly room as soon as possible. If you can't use the on-line form, get a copy of the Statement of Ordinary Residence form from your unit's orderly room.

Learn about how to update your address for voting purposes in your existing Statement of Ordinary Residence.

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How do I change my Statement of Ordinary Residence?

You can update the address on your Statement of Ordinary Residence (SOR) using this on-line tool. Print your updated form and present it to your unit's orderly room as soon as possible. If you can't use the on-line tool, obtain a copy of the Statement of Ordinary Residence form at your unit's orderly room.
It is important to keep your SOR up-to-date to ensure that your vote will be counted in the appropriate riding.

You may amend your SOR at any time, but be aware that there is a lag before the changes take effect:

Learn more about the Statement of Ordinary Residence.

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I am a Canadian Forces elector. Can I vote at a civilian polling station?

If you wish to vote at a civilian polling station rather than at your unit's polling station, you must vote at the polling station established for the address of ordinary residence shown on your Statement of Ordinary Residence (SOR). In addition, you must be residing in that riding on civilian polling day.

To vote at a civilian polling station, you will be required to present proof of identity and address. See the types of proof of identity and address accepted at polling places.

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I am a Canadian Forces elector. Does my address for voting purposes change whenever I am posted or deployed?

According to the Canada Elections Act, Canadian Forces electors who have completed a Statement of Ordinary Residence (SOR) can only update their address for voting purposes by submitting an amended SOR.

As a Canadian Forces elector, your address for voting purposes is not updated by any other source (e.g., tax return, driver's license, etc.). Consequently, the address in your SOR can remain valid for many years and may not reflect your current posting.

Learn about updating your address for voting purposes in your existing SOR.

If you would like to confirm the information in your SOR, please contact Elections Canada's Canadian Forces enquiries group at:

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