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The Electoral System of Canada


Canada's electoral system is the outcome of a process – spanning more than 140 years since Confederation – through which Canadians have progressively overcome exclusions from the franchise and barriers to voting to achieve the universal, constitutionally guaranteed right to vote and to be a candidate in a federal election.

During a federal election period, public attention tends naturally to focus on the excitement of the political campaigns, taking for granted the administrative machinery that surrounds and supports voting. But in addition to voters lists and polling stations, there are many measures in place to ensure access to the ballot and help safeguard the right to vote – such as multilingual election information, website accessibility, level access at polling stations, mobile polls, special ballots and advance polls.

The Electoral System of Canada explains how this administrative machinery works at the federal level. It begins by taking a look at Canada's parliamentary system and describes the electoral process, including what happens behind the scenes at Elections Canada, its role and activities. This book also outlines the main characteristics of elections and referendums, describes how electoral boundaries are redrawn and summarizes the regulatory framework for political financing.

The aim of Elections Canada is to support the informed participation of every citizen in our country's democratic process. We seek to ensure an accessible electoral framework that Canadians trust and use, thereby contributing to the overall health of Canadian democracy.

Marc Mayrand
Chief Electoral Officer of Canada