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Election Integrity and Security

This webpage will help you understand the various players and procedures involved in protecting Canada's federal electoral system. The delivery of federal elections is protected by many legal, procedural and technological safeguards that are designed to ensure the integrity of the voting process. We also have safeguards in place to protect Elections Canada's information, employees and operations.

Safeguards in the electoral process

An election has integrity when it is carried out in a way that respects the law and procedures, includes an enforcement regime that imposes penalties for intentionally breaking the law, and respects the principles of electoral democracy. The principles that are essential to electoral integrity are accessibility, reliability, fairness, security, transparency and independence.

The electoral process helps advance integrity principles through its various safeguards, including:

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How Elections Canada contributes to election security

There is no one simple solution that eliminates threats to election security while maintaining an accessible, fair and transparent electoral process. These threats are complex—ranging from criminal acts, terrorism, cyberattacks, foreign interference and attempts at disinformation—and reach beyond our borders and the realm of election management.

Elections Canada pays careful attention to these threats to election security. We are working within the bounds of our legal mandate to limit their impact, with the assistance of our colleagues in government departments and agencies that have a mandate to protect election security.

While no known widespread criminal activity, cybersecurity incident or disinformation campaign disrupted the administration of the 2019 general election, it is important to remain vigilant to emerging and ongoing threats.

As the election environment evolves, Canadians can count on Elections Canada to make registration and voting as accessible, convenient and secure as possible.

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A shared responsibility

In the current environment, delivering a secure election requires collaboration among many players. Federal agencies, political actors, media, digital platforms, civil society and individual Canadians must all play a role.

Elections Canada's role

With the support of national security and intelligence agencies, Elections Canada can focus on its top priority: administering elections and making sure Canadians can exercise their democratic rights to register, vote and be a candidate.

To deliver on this priority: 

  • We maintain a strong security position and abide by government-wide best practices.
    • Working closely with the Canadian Centre for Cyber Security and other security agencies, we have made major investments to strengthen our IT infrastructure, monitor our systems 24/7 and protect our data.
    • We have implemented security by design, making security a foundational part of every new IT system or process that we develop.
    • We continually train employees and field staff on how to safeguard information and practise good cyber safety.
  • We provide Canadians with information on the ways to register and vote, on how to be a candidate and on the safeguards that protect the integrity of our elections.
    • Before and during an election, we run a multimedia information campaign so Canadians have easy access to reliable information.
    • We put all our communications—TV and radio ads, videos, social media content—in a repository on our website to make it easy to find out whether or not an advertising or communication product actually came from us.
  • We monitor the information environment (the news media, the Web, social media, etc.) to find out about:
    • Incidents that could affect the smooth administration of a general election or by-election
    • Inaccurate information on the electoral process, which could prevent people from exercising their rights to register, vote or be a candidate
    • Social media accounts and websites that impersonate Elections Canada, which could lead to confusion
  • We correct the record.
    • If we see incorrect information about the electoral process, we proactively communicate correct information.
    • If we see fake accounts or websites impersonating Elections Canada, we ask that they be removed. Elections Canada has contacts at digital platforms who handle cases of impersonation of Elections Canada; this impersonation is illegal.
  • We provide Canadians with safer ways to vote during a pandemic.
    • Electors can expect to see the following health and safety measures at polling places:
      • implementation of local or provincial health measures, such as registries for contact tracing
      • hand sanitizing stations at entrances and exits
      • non-medical masks available to voters
      • poll workers with non-medical masks, shields and gloves
      • physical distancing and directional signage throughout the polling place
       
    • We are also working to increase the capacity and convenience of the vote-by-mail system.

The Role of the Commissioner of Canada Elections

  • The Commissioner of Canada Elections is the independent officer responsible for ensuring that the Canada Elections Act (the Act) is complied with and enforced.
  • When Elections Canada becomes aware of potential violations to the Act, the agency refers that information to the Commissioner of Canada Elections for consideration and possible investigation.
  • Members of the public who think that someone may be breaking election law can contact the Commissioner of Canada Elections to make a complaint.
  • If a complaint falls within the Office's mandate, the Commissioner can investigate and, if required, take compliance or enforcement action.
  • Breaking federal election law can lead to serious consequences, including undertakings, administrative monetary penalties, compliance agreements and criminal charges.

Collaboration with other agencies and departments

Elections Canada coordinates with other federal organizations that contribute to election security, including:

We meet regularly with these agencies and departments to share information; discuss roles, responsibilities and protocols under potential scenarios; plan communications; and detect and respond to any threats to the integrity of an election.

In parallel to Elections Canada's collaboration described here, the Government of Canada has implemented other initiatives to safeguard elections.

Political participants, digital platforms and others

Many players are involved in the democratic process, including political parties, candidates, third parties, digital platforms, media and civil society groups. We regularly consult and engage with these different entities on issues related to the electoral process. Everyone involved must do their part. They can do so by:

  • protecting their IT infrastructure and data
  • ensuring that the information they produce and share is accurate
  • promoting digital literacy and critical thinking

Your role

As an individual Canadian, you have a role to play as well. You can take steps to protect yourself and others:

  • Be cyber safe. Learn about cyber security risks that could affect you and how you can protect yourself. Visit the Government of Canada's Get Cyber Safe website.
  • Be aware that some of what you see online may not be what it seems. Carefully consider whether the source is reliable and the information is correct.
  • Look to Elections Canada for facts about elections and where, when and the ways to register and vote, and about the safeguards in the electoral process. Contact us if you have questions.

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Reliable information on the electoral process

Some information on the Internet and social media is reliable, but some information can be either mistakenly misleading (misinformation) or deliberately misleading (disinformation). During an election, there may be more information available than usual. To exercise your right to vote, it is important that you have accurate information.

Elections Canada is the official source for information about the federal election process. Look to us for facts about where, when and the ways to register and vote, and about the safeguards in the electoral process.

Tips to ensure that you are getting reliable information

To learn more, check out our videos.

Check the Source (1) – Election security

Transcript of video 1

Visual: A woman in her living room is scrolling through her social media feed on her tablet device. Close-up of her tablet as she scrolls through various social media posts. She stops at a video news story featuring a reporter.

Narrator (voice Over): On the internet, anybody can be a broadcaster.

Visual: Close-up of video news story featuring reporter. A photo of Parliament Hill can be seen in the background. The banner on the video reads "Voting Age Lowered to 10 Yrs".

Narrator: That makes it hard to tell who's credible and who's not.

Visual: Close-up of the woman as she raises her eyebrows. Close-up of the video news story as the reporter wraps up with a smile and a "thumbs up" gesture.

Narrator: Even the most realistic content may be inaccurate or deceptive.

Visual: Wide shot of the same reporter sitting in a messy basement bedroom smiling at his web cam. As he closes the laptop, the banner and the image of Parliament Hill disappear. He lays back comfortably onto his bed.

Narrator: Before you vote, make sure you're getting news and information from reliable sources.

Super: Make sure you're getting news and information from reliable sources.

Narrator: Don't believe something just because someone you know shared it.

Visual: Close-up of a tablet screen showing the woman's social media feed. Zoom into a video news story featuring the same reporter. Zoom into the profile picture of the person who shared the story.

Narrator: Find out where it originally came from,

Visual: Pan down the reporter's social media post to a link to the originating URL. The link is clicked. Cut to a website featuring the reporter smiling a "thumbs up gesture". Several Canadian themed parody news videos appear on the page.

Narrator: and then decide if it's trustworthy.

Visual: Cut back to the woman in her living room scrolling through her tablet device. Icons representing various posts and new stories are superimposed above her head.

Narrator: Take a minute to find out where your news comes from.

Visual: Using flicks of her finger, the woman discards social media content that is fake or misleading. One by one the icons disappear above her head.

Narrator: Our democracy is important, let's take it seriously.

Narrator: When it comes to voting in federal elections, your official source of information is Elections Canada.

Visual: Fade to black. A large X appears with the campaign tagline "It's Our Vote". The tagline fades while the X flies off to settle into the X in the Elections Canada logo which appears on screen. The URL elections.ca appears on screen, followed by the toll-free number 1-800-463-6868.

Check the Source (2) – Election security

Transcript of video 2

Visual: A familiar-looking painting hangs in an art gallery. A man removes his glasses to look closer. The painting is a bad reproduction of the Mona Lisa.

Narrator (voice Over): Some fakes are easy to spot.

Visual: The man turns his attention to his smartphone and begins scrolling through his social media feed with his thumb.

Narrator: It can be a lot harder to identify misinformation online.

Visual: Close-up of his smartphone as he scrolls. Various social media posts include fake news and misinformation.

Narrator: News feeds and websites can be misleading.

Visual: Close-up of a social media post from an art gallery advertising the "real" Mona. Wider shot of the man in gallery chuckling - he realizes he's been fooled.

Narrator: Before you vote, make sure what you're seeing is real and accurate.

Super: Make sure what you're seeing is real and accurate.

Visual: As the man continues to scroll through his social media feed, he comes to an election-related post that announces: "Election Postponed Until Wednesday". A large red circle with diagonal line covers a voting placard. Morph to a close-up of the suspicious post.

Narrator: When you see election information online double-check it.

Visual: Close-up of the smartphone screen as an internet search window is opened and the words "Election Postponed" are typed into the search bar. The search results reveal a widely-covered election hoax circulating online.

Narrator: Check if other reliable news outlets are covering it.

Visual: Close-up of the smartphone screen as one search result is clicked revealing a news story titled "Election Hoax Circulating Online".

Narrator: Or if other people have already debunked it.

Visual: Cut back to a scene of the man sitting on a bench in the gallery looking at his smartphone.

Narrator: Don't let false information affect your decision-making.

Visual: Cut to a wider shot as the man scans his social media feed more carefully. Icons representing various posts and new stories are superimposed above his head. Using a flick of his finger, he discards content that is fake or misleading.

Narrator: Democracy is a shared responsibility.

Narrator: When it comes to voting in federal elections, your official source of information is Elections Canada.

Visual: Fade to black. A large X appears with the campaign tagline "It's Our Vote". The tagline fades while the X flies off to settle into the X in the Elections Canada logo which appears on screen. The URL elections.ca appears on screen, followed by the toll-free number 1-800-463-6868.

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