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FAQs on Voting

How and where to vote

Time off work to vote

Voter ID

Who may vote

Polling place

Why voting matters

Canadian Armed Forces voters and their relatives

How and where to vote

How do I vote – what are my options?

Please see:

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I'm a Canadian elector living abroad. How do I vote?

Please see the backgrounder Registration and Voting Processes for Canadians Who Live Abroad.

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I live in Canada but will be out of my riding on election day. How do I vote?

If your residence is in Canada but you will be out of your riding on election day, you have two choices:

1) You can vote at advance polls. They are held on the 10th, 9th, 8th and 7th day before election day.

2) You can vote by special ballot. If your residence is in Canada, you can apply to vote by special ballot after the election has been called. You can apply online, by calling 1-800-463-6868 or at any Elections Canada office.

a) Vote by special ballot from within your riding.

With this option, you can vote:

  • in person at your local Elections Canada office throughout most of the election period
  • by mailing your special ballot to your local Elections Canada office

To vote by special ballot, apply before 6:00 p.m. (local time) on the Tuesday before election day.

If we accept your application and proof of identity and address, we will mail you a special ballot voting kit that explains how to vote. If you apply in person at your local Elections Canada office, we will hand you the kit – you can vote right away, or vote later by mail or by returning in person to your local Elections Canada office.

Your completed ballot must be received at your local Elections Canada office before the polls close on election day in your riding. By law, we cannot accept late application forms and we cannot count late ballots.

Once you have registered to vote by special ballot, you cannot vote another way.

b) Vote by special ballot from outside your riding.

This option applies to people whose residence is in Canada but who are travelling outside their riding, in Canada or abroad (e.g., snowbirds, students living away from home to attend university).

With this option, you can vote by mail from anywhere in Canada or the world. To vote by special ballot from outside your riding:

Apply as soon as an election has been called. Allow enough time for a special ballot voting kit to reach you and for your ballot to travel back to Ottawa.

We must receive your application and documents proving your identity and address by the Tuesday before election day:

  • in person at any Elections Canada office before 6:00 p.m. (local time), or
  • by fax or by mail sent to Elections Canada in Ottawa, before 6:00 p.m. (Eastern Time)

Once we process and accept your application, we mail you a special ballot voting kit (or hand it to you, if you apply in person at an Elections Canada office). Your kit contains instructions on how to vote.

Your completed ballot must be received at Elections Canada in Ottawa before 6:00 p.m. (Eastern Time) on election day.

By law, we cannot accept late application forms or count late ballots.

Once you have registered to vote by special ballot, you cannot vote another way.

Learn more about voting by special ballot (voting by mail).

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I'm homeless. How do I vote?

Eligible electors who are homeless or have no fixed address are welcome to register and vote.

Everyone who votes must prove their identity and address. This page lists all the types of proof of identity and address accepted at the polls.

Here are some of the ways you can prove your identity and address at the polls:

  • To prove your identity (name), you can show a piece of ID with your name on it, like a fishing license, library card, social insurance card (SIN card), birth certificate or Veterans Affairs Canada Health Identification Card.
  • To prove your address, you can show an official letter called a "Letter of Confirmation of Residence." If you have gone to a shelter for food or lodging, you can ask the shelter administrator for this letter.
  • 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).

For more information, please call us.

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I am a student. Can I vote on campus?

Some students will be able to vote on campus. You may have one or more of these options:

  • Advance and election day polling stations on some campuses

Some campuses have advance and/or election day polling stations. Students living in residence can vote at a polling station on campus if they consider their campus residence to be their home, they have ID proving their address on campus and they are assigned to vote at that polling station.

Soon after the election is called, Elections Canada lets people know where to vote. Your voter information card tells you where and when to vote. You can also use the Voter Information Service to find the addresses and hours for your polling station.

  • Elections Canada offices on some campuses

You can find Elections Canada offices on select campuses. Students can visit the offices to get information, register and vote on site. These offices are open to all voters for four days, no matter where in Canada they may live. Learn more about the Vote on Campus Program.

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If I cannot vote on campus, what are my options?

If you cannot vote on campus, you can choose another way to vote.

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I live in a hospital or long-term care facility. How can I vote?

Electors who live in hospitals and facilities that provide long-term care may have the extra option of voting at a mobile polling station in their residence.

Elections Canada offers mobile polling stations in some residences and hospital wards. If required, we transport the ballot box from room to room to facilitate voting.

Everyone who votes must prove their identity and address. Learn more about all the kinds of proof of address and identity accepted at mobile polls.

Here are some ways to prove your identity and address:

  • To prove your identity (name), you can show a piece of ID with your name on it, like a health card, social insurance card (SIN card), birth certificate, Veterans Affairs Canada Health Identification Card, or hospital bracelet.
    • For residents of long-term care facilities, you can show photocopies of your proof of identity and address documents.
  • To prove your address, one option is to show an "Attestation of Residence." This is an official letter from a long-term care facility that says this person lives there. You can request this letter from the facility administrator.
  • You can still vote if you declare your identity and address in writing and have someone who knows you vouch for you. The voucher must be able to prove their identity and address. The voucher may be an employee of the institution where you live. The employee may vouch for more than one elector and must reside in the same electoral district or adjacent electoral district as the person being vouched for.

For more information, please contact Elections Canada.

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Time off work to vote

Am I allowed time off work to vote?

By law, electors must have three consecutive hours to cast their vote on election day. If your hours of work do not allow for three consecutive hours to vote, your employer must give you time off.

For example, if you live in a riding where voting hours are 9:30 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. and you usually work from 11:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m., your hours of work will not allow three consecutive hours for voting. To give you three consecutive hours to vote, your employer could allow you to arrive late (at 12:30 p.m.), let you leave early (at 6:30 p.m.), or give you three hours off at some point during the work day.

Your employer has the right to decide when the time off will be given.

This rule may not apply if you work in the transportation industry.

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Are all employers required to give time off work to vote?

Yes, the law applies to all employers. However, for employers in the transportation industry, the obligation to provide three consecutive hours off to vote does not apply if these four conditions are met:

  • the employer is a company that transports goods or passengers by land, air or water
  • the employee is employed outside his or her polling division
  • the employee is employed in the operation of a means of transportation, and
  • the time off cannot be allowed without interfering with the transportation service

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Who decides when employees may take time off work to vote?

Your employer has the right to decide when in the day to give this time off.

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Can an employee lose pay for taking time off to vote?

No.

Employers cannot impose a penalty or deduct pay from an employee who is taking time off to vote if required by the Canada Elections Act. An employee must be paid what he or she would have earned during the time allowed off for voting.

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Is there a penalty for employers who do not give employees time off to vote?

Yes.

It is an offence for employers to fail to provide time off for voting if required under the Canada Elections Act.

It is also an offence for an employer to reduce an employee's pay where the employee has been provided time off to vote in accordance with the Act. The maximum penalty for violating these prohibitions is a fine of up to $2,000, three months imprisonment, or both.

It is also an offence for an employer to use intimidation, undue influence, or any other means to interfere with the granting of time off to vote under the Canada Elections Act. The maximum penalty for violating this provision is a fine of up to $50,000, five years imprisonment, or both.

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Voter ID

What pieces of ID can I use to vote?

To vote, you must show a proof of identity and address. Your options are listed here.

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Who may vote

Who is eligible to vote in the federal election and referendums?

You may vote in this federal election if you:

The Canada Elections Act includes detailed information on who is eligible to vote.

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My income tax form asked if I want to share some of my information with Elections Canada, and I answered "no." Do I still have the right to vote?  

Yes. If you are eligible to vote, you may vote. Saying "no" to this question on your income tax form does not remove your name from the National Register of Electors if it was already listed there.

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I am serving a prison sentence in Canada. Can I vote?

Yes.

As long as you're a Canadian citizen and will be at least 18 years old on election day, you can vote in your correctional institution or federal penitentiary. Once an election is called, a staff member in each institution is appointed as a liaison officer and helps prisoners register and vote. The liaison officer can answer your questions about voting and help you register.

Learn more about voting by incarcerated electors (voting in prisons).

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Polling Station

Can I vote wearing a face covering?

Should an elector arrive at a polling station with their face covered, they may decide to remove their face covering so that an election officer may verify their identity and address. However, if an elector with their face covered decides not to remove their face covering, they will be required to make a solemn declaration that they are qualified to vote.

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Why voting matters

Why should I vote?

Your vote is the way you choose someone to represent you in Canada's Parliament. By expressing your choice, you are exercising a democratic right that is key to the democratic process of government that generations of Canadians have fought to build. For more information, see A History of the Vote in Canada.

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Canadian Armed Forces voters and their relatives

I am a member of the Canadian Armed Forces. How do I vote?

If you are an elector and member of the Canadian Armed Forces, you may vote using any of the methods available to all other Canadian electors.

You may vote at the assigned civilian polling station associated with your place of residence, either on an advance polling day or election day.Your voter information card tells you where and when to vote. You will need to show proof of identity and address.

You may also vote by special ballot at a military polling station set up at a Canadian Armed Forces base or unit.

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I am living with a member of the Canadian Armed Forces. I am away from home. How do I vote?

As a Canadian citizen temporarily away from your riding, inside or outside Canada, you can vote by special ballot.

By law, the only people who may vote at polling stations set up for Canadian Armed Forces units are members of the Canadian Armed Forces.

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I am a member of the Canadian Armed Forces. Does my address for voting purposes change whenever I am posted or deployed?

According to the Canada Elections Act, Canadian Armed Forces electors may register and update their information using any of the methods available to all other Canadian electors. Your address for voting purposes will be the address you consider your place of residence. Remember, when you vote at your assigned civilian polling station (either on an advance polling day or election day) or using the special ballot process outside a military polling station, you will need to show proof of identity and address.

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