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Voting for Canadian Forces Electors

During federal elections and referendums, Canadian Forces (CF) electors can vote by all of the same methods available to other Canadian electors. During a federal general election they can also vote by special ballot at a military polling station set up at a Canadian Armed Forces base or unit.

You are a CF elector if you meet the following three conditions:

  • You are a Canadian citizen.
  • You are at least 18 years of age on civilian polling day.
  • You are a regular or reserve force member of the Canadian Armed Forces.

People living with members of the Canadian Armed Forces outside the country are not considered CF electors, but may vote as Canadians residing outside Canada (see Backgrounder EC 90540, Voting by Special Ballot).

Please note that these voting rules for CF electors apply only to federal electoral events. For information about provincial or territorial electoral events, you should contact your provincial or territorial government.


CF electors must register to vote using the same methods as all other electors. In a general election they can also register at the military polling stations when they go to vote.

It is the individual CF elector’s duty to make sure their contact information is updated with Elections Canada to ensure they can vote in their riding. For more information on how to register to vote, call Elections Canada at 1-800-463-6868.

Voting in a federal by-election

CF electors may vote using all methods available to any other Canadian elector qualified to vote in a federal by-election. Methods of voting include voting by special ballot at the local returning office or by mail, voting at advance polls or on polling day. There are no military polls set up on bases during a by-election. When they vote, CF electors must prove their identity and address. They do not have to identify themselves as CF members.

Voting at military polling stations (applicable only during a federal general election)

CF electors who vote at military polling stations will vote by special ballot. During a federal election or referendum, voting instructions are posted at the polling station in each unit and unit election officers are on hand to issue voting materials. Each polling station has a complete list of candidates.

To vote, the elector completes the ballot by writing on it the name of one of the candidates in their riding (or, in the case of a referendum, by checking either yes or no). The elector then inserts the ballot into the blank envelope provided, and then places that blank envelope into the envelope with their name on it. The elector signs the declaration on that outer envelope, stating that their name is as shown on the envelope and that they have not already voted in the election or referendum.

Finally, the elector is responsible for ensuring that Elections Canada receives the ballot in Ottawa no later than 6:00 p.m., Eastern time, on election day. Electors may mail their ballots themselves or, in most cases during a federal election or referendum, leave them with the unit election officer to forward by special arrangement. The ballot must be sent in the envelopes provided. A ballot received by any other means, including fax, will not be counted. The Canada Elections Act also prohibits counting ballots that are received after the deadline.

Counting the votes

The ballots cast at military polling stations are counted at the same time as those of Canadian residents absent from their ridings, electors residing outside Canada and incarcerated electors, provided that the ballots have been received at Elections Canada in Ottawa before 6:00 p.m., Eastern time, on election day.

Communicating the results

As soon as the special ballots are counted at Elections Canada in Ottawa, the Special Voting Rules Administrator informs the Chief Electoral Officer of the results of the special ballot vote for each riding. The Chief Electoral Officer totals the results, for each riding, of the special ballot vote by CF electors, Canadian citizens residing outside the country and incarcerated electors. After the polling stations close on election day, the special ballot voting results for each riding are sent to the appropriate returning officer.

The returning officer then adds the results of the special ballot votes to the total results for their riding.

For more information:


This Canadian Armed Forces webpage contains information of interest to CF electors.


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TTY 1-800-361-8935
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Elections Canada
30 Victoria Street
Gatineau, Quebec
K1A 0M6

September 2020