Voting in a Federal Election
In a federal election, Canadians choose members of Parliament (MPs) to represent them in Ottawa.
To vote , you must:
- be a Canadian citizen
- be at least 18 years old on election day,
- prove your identity and address
The rules for voting internationally are different than voting in Canada. Please see this page for more information.
When you vote in Canada, you must prove your identity and address (for a list of acceptable documents, click here).
You have three options:
- Show one original piece of photo identification issued by a Canadian government, whether federal, provincial or local, or an agency of that government, that contains your photo, name and address (for example, a driver's licence), or
- Show two pieces of identification from a list authorized by the Chief Electoral Officer of Canada. Both must have your name and one must also have your address (such as a health card and utility bill), or
- You can still vote if you declare your identity and address in writing and have someone who knows you and who is assigned to your polling station vouch for you.
The voucher must be able to prove their identity and address. A person can vouch for only one person (except in long-term care institutions).
Note: Pieces of identification must be in either English or French. In Nunavut, pieces of identification will also be accepted in Inuktitut. Expired documents are accepted.
Make sure you are on the list of electors
Elections Canada produces the preliminary lists of electors from information in the National Register of Electors. Shortly after the election is called, Elections Canada will mail a voter information card to everyone on the list of electors. Please carefully read the card you receive and make sure that your name and address are correct.
- If your name and address are correct, keep the card. It shows that you are registered to vote, and tells you when and where to vote.
- If your name and address on the card are not correct, you will need to call Elections Canada. You will find the phone number of your local Elections Canada office on the back of your voter information card.
You should receive your voter information card about three weeks before election day.
If you do not receive a voter information card, it may mean that you are not registered on the list of electors. You can contact your local Elections Canada office, which you can find here. You can also register at the polling station during advance polls or on election day, but to save time, register ahead of time. For more information on how to register to vote, call Elections Canada at 1-800-463-6868 or visit here. Remember, to vote you must prove your identity and address.
There are three ways you can vote
1. On election day
- If you have a voter information card, take it with you when you go to vote at the polling station at the address shown on the card.
- If you don't have a voter information card, and you didn't register earlier, you can still register to vote at the polling station on election day by proving your identity and address, as described above. For your poll location, call Elections Canada at 1-800-463-6868 or click here.
2. At an advance poll
- If you don't wish to vote on election day, you can vote earlier at an advance poll. The voter information card tells you the dates and address. If you do not receive a voter information card, you can find your poll here. Take it with you to the polling station. If you need to, you can also register at the advance poll.
3. Vote by special ballot
Any eligible elector can apply to vote by special ballot. You can apply to vote by special ballot at any Elections Canada office, by mail, or through the Elections Canada Web site (www.elections.ca). Apply early, the last day to request a special ballot is 6:00 p.m. on the sixth day before election day.
Once you apply for a special ballot, you can only vote that way, and cannot vote at the advance polls or on election day. If you request a voting kit and do not receive it, contact Elections Canada.
Glossary of election terms
- advance poll
- a poll is a voting place – advance polls are held so that people who don't wish to or are not able to vote on election day can vote ahead of time
- the paper you mark your vote on
- a person who is running in a federal election or by-election for a seat in Parliament
- Elections Canada
- an independent body set up by Parliament
- a person who is qualified to vote (in Canada, this means a Canadian citizen who is 18 years of age or older on election day)
- electoral district
- sometimes called a riding or constituency – an area represented in Parliament by one elected politician
- National Register of Electors
- Elections Canada has a computerized list of electors that is kept up-to-date by using information from other government files (such as driver's licence files). People who have recently moved or turned 18 may need to contact Elections Canada to make sure they are on the list of electors for an election.
- poll, polling station
- the place where you vote (the address depends on where you live)
- registering to vote
- getting your name on the list of electors, at the right address
- returning officer
- the person in each electoral district who is responsible for organizing the voting and making sure it is fair
- voter information card
- a card with your name and address. It shows that you are on the list of electors and tells you where and when you can vote.
- list of electors
- a list of all qualified electors in an electoral district