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Description of the National Register of Electors

About the National Register of Electors

Created in 1997, the National Register of Electors is a permanent, continually-updated database of Canadians who are qualified to vote in federal elections and referendums. It contains the name, address, gender and date of birth of each elector, as well as a unique identifier to help track changes to the elector's record. Elections Canada uses the information in the National Register of Electors (the Register) to create lists of electors (voters lists) at the beginning of federal elections and referendums.

If they choose, Canadians may opt out of the National Register of Electors. They do not lose their right to vote.

Benefits of the National Register of Electors

An accurate list of electors is the cornerstone of any democracy, and the Register helps provide this. The Register exceeds Elections Canada's target levels for coverage (92%) and currency (80%). As of November 2017, 93.2% of all eligible electors were included in the Register, and 92.9% of registered electors are listed at their current address.

The Register makes it easy for eligible electors to register and to have their information kept current. Electors who have registered once do not have to register again for every election, and at the start of an election they will automatically be sent a voter information card to advise when and where to vote. In addition, the Register allows Elections Canada and other electoral agencies to improve the accuracy of registrations while saving taxpayer money, thanks to data-sharing agreements.  

Maintaining the National Register of Electors

The Register contains records for approximately 26 million Canadians aged 18 and older who are qualified to vote.

Approximately 14% of elector information changes every year—those turning 18 and new Canadian citizens can be added to the Register, the names of deceased electors are removed, and electors who move have their address updated.

Annual Changes to Elector Information
Change Electors Affected % of Electors Primary Sources of Information
Address 2,900,000 11 Canada Revenue Agency; National Defence; provincial and territorial driver's licence agencies; provincial and territorial electoral agencies with permanent voters lists; lists from recent provincial and territorial elections
Persons reaching the age of 18 400,000 2 Canada Revenue Agency; provincial and territorial driver's licence agencies; provincial and territorial electoral agencies with permanent voters lists; lists from recent provincial and territorial elections; youth voter registration mailing initiatives
New citizens 100,000 0.4 Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada; lists from recent provincial and territorial elections
Deaths 300,000 1 Canada Revenue Agency; provincial and territorial vital statistics agencies; provincial and territorial electoral agencies with permanent voters lists

Coverage of the National Register of Electors

Coverage represents the proportion of eligible electors appearing on the National Register of Electors. Since 2009, the coverage has varied between 92.1% and 94%, consistently exceeding the target of 92% (see graph below). Coverage usually increases after federal general elections or provincial elections because voters register to vote and their information is entered on the Register, and the voters lists are updated. This is in addition to the information updates regularly provided by the sources identified in the previous section. 


Note: Coverage estimates are adjusted to account for deceased electors, duplicates and non-Canadian citizens.


Text description of graph "Coverage of the National Register of Electors from 2009 to 2017 (Canada)"


Information sources that update the National Register of Electors

The Register is updated continually with information from these sources:

*Except for Quebec, where all updates are obtained from Quebec's permanent voters list.

Federal data sources share personal information with Elections Canada only with the express consent of the people involved. Provincial and territorial data sources are subject to the legislation that applies in their respective jurisdictions.

Sharing voter registration information with other electoral agencies

Elections Canada provides voter registration information (name, address, date of birth and gender) to all provincial and territorial electoral agencies (with the exception of Yukon) and to some municipalities, where data-sharing agreements exist. Information is shared in accordance with the Canada Elections Act. The data-sharing agreements include conditions regarding the use and protection of personal information. 

Sharing voter registration information between electoral jurisdictions improves the accuracy of voters lists, making it easier to vote. It also reduces duplication, saving taxpayer money.

There is often a delay of several weeks or months between when the voter information is sent and when it gets reflected in the respective provincial, territorial and municipal voters lists.

Opting out of sharing information with other electoral agencies

If they wish, electors may ask Elections Canada not to provide their information to provincial, territorial and municipal electoral agencies. To request that your federal voter registration information not be provided to other electoral agencies, please write to Elections Canada. In your request, please include your name, date of birth, current home and mailing addresses, and signature.

Sharing voter registration information with political participants

In accordance with the Canada Elections Act, Elections Canada provides voters lists (containing name, address and unique identifier) to members of Parliament, registered and eligible political parties and candidates, who may use the information as authorized under the Act. The Guidelines on Use of the Lists of Electors explain what information is shared with members of Parliament, political parties and candidates; when it is shared; how they are authorized to use it; and their responsibility to safeguard this information.

Safeguarding your personal information

Elections Canada takes precautions to ensure that the information contained in the Register is kept secure and used for authorized purposes only. Employees' access to the Register is carefully controlled, and the database itself is physically secured and protected by hardware, software, firewalls and procedural controls.

Removing your name from the National Register of Electors

Canadians who are qualified to vote may choose whether to be included in the Register. Being in the Register has several benefits—you don't have to register at every election, and you are automatically sent a voter information card telling you when and where to vote. If you decide to opt out of the Register, you will lose these benefits, but not your right to vote.

To request to be removed from the Register, please write to Elections Canada. In your request, please include your name, date of birth, current home and mailing addresses, and signature.

If you've opted out of the Register and want to vote in a federal election, by-election or referendum, you must add your name to the voters list. Register at your local Elections Canada office during the revision period (from shortly after the call of the election until 6:00 p.m. on the Tuesday before election day), or register at your polling place at the advance poll or on election day.

The names of all people who voted are included on the final lists of electors. Names on the final lists of electors are added to the Register, except for those people who had previously requested to opt out of the Register, or who asked that their information not be included in the Register when they registered to vote.

Accessing the records we hold about you

Voters' registration information is protected by the Canada Elections Act and the Privacy Act. Under the Privacy Act, you may request access to your personal information held by Elections Canada. All personal information under the control of a government institution must be retained in a personal information bank that is registered with the federal government. Voters' information is held in Personal Information Bank CEO PPU 037, described in the Elections Canada chapter of Info Source – Sources of Federal Government and Employee Information.

The Privacy Commissioner of Canada has the right, at any time, to audit how Register information is collected, stored, updated and used, to ensure that electors' right to privacy is respected.

Please contact us for more information.