Summary – Special Ballot Report – 44th General Election
In Canada's federal elections, local electors voting by special ballot are required to return their marked ballot to Elections Canada at the close of polls; while national, international, Canadian Forces and incarcerated electors must return it to Elections Canada headquarters in Ottawa by 6:00 p.m.
During the 44th general election, the COVID-19 pandemic generated an unprecedented number of requests to vote by special ballot, the majority of which were returned by mail.
The increase in demand for special ballots was mainly from electors voting from inside their electoral district. Traditionally, these electors vote in person at advance polls or on election day.
Ahead of the election, Elections Canada implemented numerous changes to meet an anticipated increase in demand for special ballots while maintaining the integrity of the special ballot process.
A total of 1,275,226 electors requested a special ballot during the 44th general election, compared with 700,542 during the 43rd general election. This represents an increase of 82%.
In the end, 1,168,531 special ballots were returned to Elections Canada. Of those, 99,988 were set aside in accordance with the Canada Elections Act. For the vast majority of these ballots, this is because they came in after legal deadlines. An additional 106,695 special ballots were never returned to Elections Canada.
Elections Canada has made recommendations to parliament to improve the special ballot process. The agency is also conducting additional analysis to assess how it can further assist electors in returning their special ballots on time.