Facts about voter ID and the voter information card
Since 2007, electors have to prove their identity (who they are) and their address (where they live) before they can vote in federal elections.
Most electors can prove their identity and address easily, with a single piece of ID Ė usually a driverís licence. But some eligible electors may have difficulty getting ID cards that show their address.
Some Canadians may not have the necessary documents or ID
In Canada, 86% of the population 18 and over has a driver's license. footnote 1 In some provinces and territories, an increasing number of Canadians who don't drive have a government-issued ID card with their photo, name and address.
According to an EC survey conducted after the 2015 general election, 93% of electors who voted recalled showing a government-issued photo ID with their name and address in order to vote. footnote 2
However, proving address may be especially difficult for some groups of electors, such as seniors living in long term care, students away at school, and First Nations electors living on reserve.
About voter information cards
About three weeks before election day, Elections Canada mails personalized voter information cards to electors. The card tells them that they are registered to vote. It also tells them when and where to vote, the different ways they can vote, and how to get more information.
The card is sent to electors registered in the National Register of Electors, at the address in the Register. The Register is a database of Canadians who are qualified to vote in federal elections.
We update the Register using a variety of sources, including the Canada Revenue Agency, Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada, driversí licenceand vital statistics agencies from Canadian provinces and territories. Election workers will even go door-to-door, for example in neighbourhoods with many new residents. We also receive updates from electors themselves either online, in person, or through a mail-in form.
After we mail the voter information cards, we launch advertising and information campaigns telling electors to look out for their card, and asking them to contact us if they donít get a card or if their card needs updating.
As of November 2018, 93.8% of all eligible electors were included in the Register, and 90.8% of the electors in the Register were listed at their current address.
- 93.8% of all eligible electors are listed in the National Register
- 90.8% of registered electors are listed at their current address
- Every year, 11% of Canadians 18 and older move
Voter ID in the 2015 general election
At the 2015 general election, electors had several options some of which have changed as a result of Bill C-76 to prove their identity and address.
- 93% of electors showed a driver's licence or another single piece of ID showing their name, address and photo
- 3% of electors showed a document proving their identity and another proving their address
- Less than 1% showed two documents with their name and had a neighbour with ID attest to their address footnote 4
- 172,000 electors could not exercise their right to vote because they did not have accepted proof of identity and/or address
- Of these electors, about 50,000 went to their polling place but were turned away for lack of ID footnote 5
Voter Information Cards as Proof of Address
Previous Pilot projects with the voter information card
During the November 2010 by-elections and 2011 general election, Elections Canada ran a pilot project with Voter Information Cards at certain polling places Ė seniors' residences, long-term care facilities, First Nations reserves, and on-campus student residences.
At these targeted polling places, electors could prove their address by showing their personalized voter information card bearing their name and address, only if they also showed another accepted ID card to prove their identity. Many electors used this option to exercise their right to vote.
Based on these pilot projects, accepting the voter information card as a proof of address can help groups who may have difficulty showing proof of address exercise their democratic right to vote.
The Chief Electoral Officer of Canada has authorized electors to use the voter information card to prove their address, as permitted under Bill C-76. Even though electors can now use the voter information card as proof of address, a second piece of ID will be required.
Electors have not and will not be allowed to vote using a voter information card as their only piece of ID.
For more information:
- Current voter identification requirements for voting in person
- FAQs on voter ID
- Policy on voter identification
- Research Focus: Voter identification requirements in the United States
- Research Fact Sheet: Identification Requirements for In-Person Registration and Voting Options in Canada
Return to source of Footnote 1 Elections Canada calculations based on driverís licence distribution (Transport Canada, Canadian Motor Vehicle Traffic Collision Statistics, 2015) and population (Statistics Canada, Demography Division, July 2015)
Return to source of Footnote 3 Statistics Canada, Demography Division. Special tabulations based on annual migration estimates from Canada Revenue Agency T1 family file.