Description of the National Register of Electors
About the National Register of Electors
Created in 1997, the National Register of Electors (the Register) is a permanent, continually-updated database of Canadians who are qualified to vote in federal elections and referendums. It contains the name, address, gender and date of birth of each elector, as well as a unique identifier to help track changes to the elector's record. Elections Canada uses the information in the Register to create lists of electors (voters lists) at the beginning of federal elections and referendums.
If they choose, Canadians may opt out of the National Register of Electors. They do not lose their right to vote.
Benefits of the National Register of Electors
An accurate list of electors is the cornerstone of any democracy, and the Register helps provide this.
The Register makes it easy for eligible electors to register and to have their information kept current. Electors who have registered once do not have to register again for every election, and at the start of an election they will automatically be sent a voter information card to advise them when and where to vote in their electoral district. In addition, the Register allows Elections Canada and other electoral agencies to improve the accuracy of registrations while saving taxpayer money, thanks to data-sharing agreements.
Maintaining the National Register of Electors
The Register contains records for nearly 27 million Canadians aged 18 and older who are qualified to vote.
Approximately 14% of elector information changes every year—those turning 18 and new Canadian citizens can be added to the Register, the names of deceased electors are removed, and electors who move have their addresses updated.
|Change||Electors Affected||% of Electors||Primary Sources of Information|
|Address||2,900,000||11||Canada Revenue Agency; National Defence; provincial and territorial driver's licence agencies; provincial and territorial electoral agencies with permanent voters lists; lists from recent provincial and territorial elections|
|Persons reaching the age of 18||400,000||2||Canada Revenue Agency; provincial and territorial driver's licence agencies; provincial and territorial electoral agencies with permanent voters lists; lists from recent provincial and territorial elections; youth voter registration mailing initiatives|
|New citizens||100,000||0.4||Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada; lists from recent provincial and territorial elections|
|Deaths||300,000||1||Canada Revenue Agency; provincial and territorial vital statistics agencies; provincial and territorial electoral agencies with permanent voters lists|
Coverage of the National Register of Electors
The percentage of electors included in the Register (coverage) is one of the key indicators used to measure the extent to which Canadians can exercise their democratic right to vote
Coverage represents the proportion of qualified electors appearing on the Register. Since 2009, the national coverage has varied between 92% and 94%, consistently exceeding the target of 92% (see graph below). Recent activities implemented before the 2019 federal election were expected to further improve the coverage. As a result, the coverage target was increased from 92% to 94% in April 2019. As of September 2019, 96.4% of qualified electors appear on the Register.
Accuracy of the National Register of Electors
Elections Canada sponsored a study to provide context on the accuracy of electors' addresses on the voter information card (VIC).
Statistics Canada conducted a study which compared electors' addresses in the databases of provincial and territorial driver's licence agencies to those collected as part of the Labour Force Survey, which has one of the highest response rates among Statistics Canada's household surveys. Quebec and Alberta were excluded from the study as their database was not available. As of April 2018, the study showed that 85 percent of the electors' addresses in the databases of driver's licence agencies are current and accurate, as opposed to 90.5 percent in the National Register of Electors.
This demonstrates that Elections Canada's processing of multiple data sources used to update the Register leads to a comparatively higher address currency. Therefore, when electors must prove their address, the VIC, derived from the Register, can be a more accurate piece of identification of addresses than a driver's license.
Information sources that update the National Register of Electors
The Register is updated continually with information from these sources:
- Canada Revenue Agency
- For people who tick the "Yes" boxes in the Elections Canada section of their federal income tax form, which asks if they have Canadian citizenship and agree to share their name, date of birth and address to update the Register
- Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada
- For new citizens who tick the "Yes" box on their citizenship application form, agreeing to share their name, gender, date of birth, address, Unique Client Identifier number and date their citizenship was granted to update the Register
- National Defence
- For Canadian Forces Regular Force members who have completed a Statement of Ordinary Residence form
- Provincial and territorial driver's licence agencies*
- Provincial and territorial vital statistics agencies*
- Provincial and territorial electoral agencies with permanent voters lists
- Voters lists from recent elections in provinces and territories
- Information supplied to us by electors when they register to vote or update their registration during and between elections, including through Elections Canada's Online Voter Registration Service
*For Quebec, updates are obtained from the Quebec permanent voters list.
Federal data sources share personal information with Elections Canada only with the express consent of the people involved. Provincial and territorial data sources are subject to the legislation that applies in their respective jurisdictions.
Sharing voter registration information with other electoral agencies
Elections Canada provides voter registration information (name, address, date of birth and gender) to all provincial and territorial electoral agencies and to some municipalities, where data-sharing agreements exist. Information is shared in accordance with the Canada Elections Act. The data-sharing agreements include conditions regarding the use and protection of personal information.
Sharing voter registration information between electoral jurisdictions improves the accuracy of voters lists, making it easier to vote. It also reduces duplication, saving taxpayer money.
There is often a delay of several weeks or months between when the voter information is sent and when it gets reflected in the respective provincial, territorial and municipal voters lists.
Opting out of sharing information with other electoral agencies
If they wish, electors may ask Elections Canada not to provide their information to provincial, territorial and municipal electoral agencies. To request that your federal voter registration information not be provided to other electoral agencies, please write to Elections Canada. In your request, please include your name, date of birth, current home and mailing addresses, and signature.
Sharing voter registration information with political participants
In accordance with the Canada Elections Act, Elections Canada provides voters lists (containing name, address and unique identifier) to members of Parliament, registered and eligible political parties and candidates, who may use the information as authorized under the Act. The Guidelines on Use of the Lists of Electors explain what information is shared with members of Parliament, political parties and candidates; when it is shared; how they are authorized to use it; and their responsibility to safeguard this information.
Safeguarding your personal information
Elections Canada takes precautions to ensure that the information contained in the Register is kept secure and used for authorized purposes only. Employees' access to the Register is carefully controlled, and the database itself is physically secured and protected by hardware, software, firewalls and procedural controls.
Removing your name from the National Register of Electors
Canadians who are qualified to vote may choose whether to be included in the Register. Being in the Register has several benefits—you don't have to register at every election, and you are automatically sent a voter information card telling you when and where to vote. If you decide to opt out of the Register, you will lose these benefits, but not your right to vote.
To request to be removed from the Register, please write to Elections Canada. In your request, please include your name, date of birth, current home and mailing addresses, and signature.
If you've opted out of the Register and want to vote in a federal election, by-election or referendum, you must add your name to the voters list. Register at your local Elections Canada office during the revision period (from shortly after the call of the election until 6:00 p.m. on the Tuesday before election day), or register at your polling place at the advance poll or on election day.
The names of all people who voted are included on the final lists of electors. Names on the final lists of electors are added to the Register, except for those people who had previously requested to opt out of the Register, or who asked that their information not be included in the Register when they registered to vote.
Accessing the records we hold about you
Voters' registration information is protected by the Canada Elections Act and the Privacy Act. Under the Privacy Act, you may request access to your personal information held by Elections Canada. All personal information under the control of a government institution must be retained in a personal information bank that is registered with the federal government. Voters' information is held in Personal Information Bank CEO PPU 037, described in the Elections Canada chapter of Info Source – Sources of Federal Government and Employee Information.
The Privacy Commissioner of Canada has the right, at any time, to audit how Register information is collected, stored, updated and used, to ensure that electors' right to privacy is respected.
Please contact us for more information.
Return to source of Footnote 1 Driver's licence holders from Quebec and Alberta were excluded from the study.