Secondary menu

Facts and Figures

About Canada …

Canadian federal elections and the right to vote: historical milestones

1874 - The secrecy of the vote was introduced with the adoption of paper ballots and voting booths.

1918 - Women were enfranchised at the federal level.

1919 - Women obtained the right to run as candidates in federal elections.

1920 - The position of Chief Electoral Officer of Canada was created to oversee the administration of federal elections nationwide.

1921 - In the 1921 general election, Agnes Macphail became the first woman elected to Parliament.

1950 - Inuit people obtained the right to vote and the right to run as candidates in federal elections.

1955 - The last vestiges of religious discrimination were removed from federal electoral law.

1960 - First Nations people living on reserves were granted the right to vote and the right to run as candidates in federal elections without having to give up their status under the Indian Act.

1970 - The voting age was lowered from 21 to 18.

1972 - The 1972 general election was the first in which 18 to 20‑year-olds were entitled to vote.

1982 - The right to vote and the right to be a candidate in an election were enshrined in the Constitution with the adoption of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

1992 - Special measures (templates, level access, interpreters) were put into the Canada Elections Act to ensure access to the vote for people with disabilities.

1993 - Federally appointed judges, persons with mental disabilities and persons serving prison terms of less than two years obtained the right to vote; the special ballot (mail-in ballot) was made available to all electors.

2002 - Following a ruling by the Supreme Court of Canada, voting rights were extended to all inmates.

2007 - An amendment to the Canada Elections Act created fixed election dates with elections to be held on the third Monday of October in the fourth calendar year following the previous general election, unless Parliament is dissolved earlier.

2007 - Changes were made following a legislative amendment requiring electors to prove their identity and residential address before voting.

Last updated: 2007