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Frequently Asked Questions

We get many questions from people of all ages. If you have questions about elections in Canada, chances are that you'll find the answers below. Some of these questions may be of a general nature while some others may be specific to election time. We’ve organized these separately.

General Questions



Who can vote?

You can vote if you:

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Why should I vote?

Your vote is the way you choose someone to represent you in the House of Commons. By making your choice, you are participating in democracy. The democratic right to vote is key to our system of government, a system that generations of Canadians have fought to build. For more information, see A History of the Vote in Canada.

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How do I register to vote?

You can register to vote at anytime during or outside of an election by calling 1-800-INFO VOTE. During an election, if you are not already on the voters list you can still register on election day if you prove your identity and address. You can prove your identity and address in one of three ways. Click here to view the options.

You can also register in person on any of the advance voting days, which are announced during the election.

To find out where you can register and vote, use our Voter Information Service or contact your local Elections Canada office.

Although you can always register when you vote, we encourage you to register ahead of time. Voting is faster if you’re registered.

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Where can I see the list of members of Parliament?

The list of elected candidates can be found on the Parliamentary Web site.

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Who is my member of Parliament?

To find out who your MP is, please use one of the searches on the Parliamentary Web site. You can search for your member of Parliament by:

If you do not know the name of your federal riding/electoral district, click here.

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Who are the party leaders in the House of Commons?

You can find out who the leaders of the registered parties are and what parties are now in the House of Commons by clicking on the links.

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Who is the minister for... ?

The names of the current Cabinet ministers can be found on the parliamentary Web site.

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What is a registered party?

Since 1970, political parties have had the option of registering with the Chief Electoral Officer. Registration offers political parties status under the Canada Elections Act and brings with it certain obligations and benefits. Click here for more information about this subject.

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Which political parties are registered?

Click here for a complete list of registered parties, their leaders and their national headquarters addresses.

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Who decides we are going to have a federal general election?

We have general elections when Parliament is dissolved. The Governor General can dissolve Parliament, at any time, on the advice of the Prime Minister. The Government must ask the Governor General to dissolve Parliament and call a general election when the Government is defeated on a supply bill (one that concerns the spending of money) or on a vote or motion of confidence. The Constitution provides that no more than five years may pass between general elections, except in exceptional circumstances.

In May 2007, Parliament passed a law to establish fixed dates for federal general elections providing that a general election must be held on the third Monday in October in the fourth calendar year following the previous general election, unless Parliament is dissolved earlier.

The Chief Electoral Officer may recommend a different day if the day set for polling is not suitable.

What about by-elections?

When a seat in the House of Commons becomes officially vacant, the Speaker of the House must inform the Chief Electoral Officer immediately. Between the 11th and the 180th day after getting this notice, the Chief Electoral Officer issues a writ to the returning officer of the electoral district concerned, directing him or her to hold a by-election. The date on the writ is determined by the Governor in Council (the Governor General acting on the advice of Cabinet).

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When is the next election?

Under the new fixed election date law, if Parliament is not dissolved earlier, the next general election will be held on Monday, October 19, 2015.

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What kind of electoral system is used for federal elections in Canada?

Canada's federal electoral system is called a "single-member plurality" or "first-past-the-post" system. In every electoral district, the candidate with the most votes wins a seat in the House of Commons and represents that electoral district as its member of Parliament. A candidate does not need an absolute majority (50% of the votes in the electoral district +1) to be elected.

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How many people, including youth, voted at past general elections?

Voter turnout rate at general elections since 2000
Date of election Population of Canada Electors on lists Ballots cast Voter turnout (%)
2000 (November 27)
28,846,761
21,243,473
12,997,185
64.1
2004 (June 28)
30,007,094
22,466,621
13,683,570
60.9
2006 (January 23)
30,007,094
23,054,615
14,908,703
64.7
2008 (October 14)
31,612,897
23,677,639
13,929,093
58.8

Note: Population figures based on the latest Census figures available at the time of the general election.

For voter turnout figures in your electoral district, see ‘Past Elections' on Elections Canada's Web site at: http://www.elections.ca/content.aspx?section=ele&dir=pas&document=index&lang=e

Studies commissioned by Elections Canada on rates of participation show that younger Canadians are voting at significantly lower rates than older electors. For the 2004 general election, Elections Canada conducted a study that cross-referenced actual votes with data from the National Register of Electors to find out how many people were voting in each age group. The results showed that approximately 37% of electors aged 18–24 voted. For the 2006 general election, a similar study showed that approximately 44% of electors in the 18–24 age group voted. However, for the 2008 general election, this estimate fell once again to 37%.

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For more details on the Canada's Electoral System, see: http://www.elections.ca/content.aspx?section=res&dir=ces&document=index&lang=e