open Secondary menu

ForewordReport on the 44th General Election of September 20, 2021

I am pleased to present Elections Canada's report on the 44th general election. This report describes the agency's activities to prepare for, deliver and close the event.

Over the coming months, I also plan on submitting to Parliament a recommendations report that will set out any amendments that, in my opinion, are desirable to better administer the Canada Elections Act. In addition, Elections Canada is evaluating its performance in conducting the general election and will identify other areas for improvement that do not require legislative action. We will publish the findings on our website later this year.

The 44th general election took place during the COVID-19 pandemic. To ensure that Canadians were safely able to exercise their democratic rights to vote and be a candidate, we made many changes to our operations. These changes included, notably:

  • new health and safety measures—such as personal protective equipment for election workers, hand sanitizer stations, plexiglass barriers, distancing signage and single-use pencils—at polling places and local Elections Canada offices
  • expanded mail-in special ballot services, including a new online application portal and boxes designated to receive special ballots at polling places on election day
  • updated training for election workers
  • a single poll worker model, with one poll worker at each polling station instead of two
  • a new health and safety component of the Voter Information Campaign, which included complementary campaigns targeting students and seniors and an enhanced recruitment campaign

Elections Canada also worked to be ready in case more Canadians chose to vote by mail using a special ballot than in previous elections because of pandemic-related health concerns. Ultimately, the agency received more than 700,000 special ballots by mail, a sharp increase from the roughly 55,000 received in the 43rd general election in October 2019. Canadians also increasingly took advantage of early voting services. More than 5.8 million electors voted over the four days of advance polls, an increase of approximately 21 percent from the nearly 4.9 million Canadians who voted in advance polls during the previous election.

Elections Canada also implemented a security strategy to protect the integrity of the general election. This strategy was designed to address potential attempts at electoral interference, whether through cyberattacks or the spread of inaccurate information about the electoral process. I am pleased to say that during the election there were no serious cybersecurity threats to Elections Canada's infrastructure beyond those faced daily by any federal government organization.

In the lead-up to the election, Elections Canada enhanced its voter registration services and the quality of the data in the National Register of Electors. Our outreach and promotional efforts in these areas focused primarily on increasing registration rates.

While early indications are that Canadians were generally satisfied with voting services offered by Elections Canada, the agency did experience a number of challenges in administering the 44th general election. We are carefully analyzing those issues and working on solutions for the future.

As with every general election, there is still much work to do to close the event, including auditing the campaign returns of political entities and publishing the official voting results. The agency will also conduct surveys of electors, political entities and election workers in order to complete comprehensive evaluations and assessments of key aspects of election delivery. In the context of a minority government, Elections Canada will do this work while maintaining its readiness to deliver the next general election, which could happen at any time.

In closing, I would like to recognize and thank the more than 195,000 election workers, returning officers, field liaison officers and other stakeholders who worked in particularly difficult circumstances to ensure that their fellow Canadians could safely exercise their democratic rights to vote and run for office in the 44th general election.

Stéphane Perrault
Chief Electoral Officer of Canada