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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 - 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