Facts and Figures
About Canada …
- Canada is one of the largest countries in the world. Its six time zones pose a challenge for administering elections.
- There are 338 federal electoral districts (also called "ridings" or "constituencies") in Canada.
- Since 1997, Elections Canada has maintained a National Register of Electors that includes approximately 25 million electors.
- According to the 2001 Census, federal electoral districts each have an average of 70,954 electors.
- Each year, about 15% of the Canadian population moves, slightly over 1% turns 18 and acquires the right to vote, 1% acquires citizenship, and 1% passes away.
- The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms states that "Every citizen of Canada has the right to vote in an election of members of the House of Commons or of a legislative assembly and to be qualified for membership therein."
- The Canada Elections Act further states that "Every person who is a Canadian citizen and is 18 years of age or older on polling day is qualified as an elector."
- The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms states that "No House of Commons and no legislative assembly shall continue for longer than five years from the date fixed for the return of the writs of a general election of its members."
- Longer terms are possible only in cases of real or apprehended war, invasion or insurrection, and must be endorsed by at least two thirds of the members of the House of Commons or the legislative assembly, as the case may be.
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