Federal Election Monday, September 20

COVID-19 FAQs

The voting process

At the polling place

At an Elections Canada office

Voting assistance and tools

The voting process

Do I need an appointment to vote?

Appointments will not be required to vote. Electors can go to an Elections Canada office before the registration deadline or to their assigned polling location any time during voting hours.

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What if I develop symptoms of COVID-19 or test positive after advance polling days or on election day?

Electors should contact their local public health authority for advice on what to do if they develop symptoms. If an elector tests positive, their public health authority will explain the next steps to them.

The health and safety of electors and poll workers is our priority. We ask that any elector who thinks they may have COVID-19 or who has tested positive for the virus to isolate, stay home and not come to an Elections Canada office or polling place. They should instead visit elections.ca to find out what other voting method is available to them. Unfortunately, after Tuesday, September 14, electors who have or believe they have COVID-19 and who have not already applied to vote by mail will not be able to vote.

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Can I bring my own pencil to mark my ballot?

Yes. Electors are welcome to bring their own pen or pencil to mark their ballot. Single-use pencils will also be provided.

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How did Elections Canada develop these health and safety measures?

Elections Canada consulted with many stakeholders to develop health and safety measures for delivering an election in a pandemic. These stakeholders include the Public Health Agency of Canada and the federal Government Operations Centre, provincial and territorial public health authorities, Indigenous Services Canada, the Assembly of First Nations, long-term care groups and disability groups.

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Will Elections Canada be asking for contact tracing information at offices and polling places?

Elections Canada will use an Entry Register to collect the name and phone number of people accessing any local Elections Canada office. At polling places, this information will be collected only if required by the provincial, territorial or local public health authority. Providing this information is voluntary.

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What will be done with the Entry Registers?

The Entry Register will be provided to public health authorities only if requested. Elections Canada will not conduct contact tracing. Protocols are in place to protect electorsí information and properly dispose of it. Entry Registers will be destroyed 30 days after election day.

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At the polling place

Is it safe to go vote at my polling place?

Elections Canada has put in place health and safety measures to keep polling places safe for electors.

  • Masks will be available to electors who do not bring their own.
  • Poll workers will be provided with masks, face shields and other protective equipment.
  • There will be hand sanitizing stations at polling places, and only one poll worker per desk behind a plexiglass barrier to serve electors.
  • Single-use pencils will be provided. Electors can also bring their own pen or pencil.
  • Poll workers will be sanitizing work stations, door handles and common surfaces throughout the day.
  • We ask that any elector who thinks they may have COVID-19 or who has tested positive for the virus to isolate, stay home and not come to an Elections Canada office or polling place. They should instead visit elections.ca to find out what other voting method is available to them. Unfortunately, after Tuesday, September 14, electors who have or believe they have COVID-19 and who have not already applied to vote by mail will not be able to vote.

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Are masks required in polling places?

To maintain safe environments, we encourage electors to wear a mask, even in places where a province, territory or region does not require them. We will require electors to wear masks where they are required by the province, territory or region or by the landlord leasing the space to Elections Canada. Electors who cannot wear a mask for medical reasons will not be required to wear one, and they will not be asked for proof of medical exemption except for polling locations in Alberta schools, where proof of exemption is required by the school boards.

Masks will be provided to electors who do not bring their own. For those in a jurisdiction where masks are mandatory and who cannot wear a mask for medical reasons, we encourage them to vote by mail.

Election workers, candidates and candidates' representatives will be required to wear masks in polling places to lead by example and maintain the safest environment possible for electors and workers.

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Will people be turned away for not wearing a mask?

In order to maintain a safe and secure environment for electors and election workers, individuals who refuse to wear a mask where masks are required will be refused entry to the polling station. Electors who do not want to or cannot wear a mask are strongly encouraged to vote by mail and must apply to do so by September 14, 2021, 6:00 p.m. Electors who are exempt from wearing a mask for medical or other reasons will be allowed entry to the polling station.

While section 3 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms guarantees the right to vote, it does not guarantee access to any particular method of voting. Electors who choose not to wear a mask where masks are required have the option to vote by special ballot. Elections Canada must balance the values underlying the individual right to vote with its mandate to provide safe and accessible voting services to electors.

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Should I expect delays at the polls due to health and safety measures?

Physical distancing and other health and safety measures at polling locations for both electors and election workers may mean that the voting process will take longer.

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Can I bring my baby/child/children to the polls?

To limit exposure and better control the number of people inside the polling location, electors are encouraged not to bring their children with them to the polls; however, they will not be turned away if they do.

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What items will be provided to protect the health of election workers at the polls?

Masks, face shields, gloves, plexiglass barriers, hand sanitizer and other sanitizing products.

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Will physical contact with election workers be reduced?

Physical contact with election workers will be limited. Election workers will be wearing masks and some may be wearing gloves when cleaning commonly used surfaces, for instance. Plexiglass barriers will also be used. Depending on the polling location, workers may also use trays, clipboards or other methods to limit the handling of documents and ID.

Both office workers and poll workers are encouraged to frequently use the available COVID-19 self-assessment tools. COVID-19 tests for election workers are not required.

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Will election workers be vaccinated?

Elections Canada has been consulting and working with public health authorities to ensure polling places are safe for everyone. We have implemented health and safety measures at our local offices and for election day polls and advance polls. These include mask wearing, physical distancing, protective barriers, frequent cleaning and single-use pencils.

Given the timing of the election, recruitment needs and logistical challenges, Elections Canada will not require election workers to be vaccinated. Public health authorities have confirmed that we can provide a safe environment without making vaccination mandatory. As the COVID-19 situation evolves, we will continue to adjust our safety measures based on their recommendations.

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Why not make it mandatory for election workers be vaccinated?

While vaccination is not a prerequisite for working at the election, we anticipate that, given vaccination rates across Canada and data about our workforce's demographic profile, the majority of personnel who would be hired at the call of a federal election will have been vaccinated as per the provincial or territorial vaccine rollout plans. 

Arrangements for serving electors living in care facilities and other vulnerable communities are negotiated locally by the returning officer and the responsible authority for each community. Whenever required by the local authority, returning officers will assign fully vaccinated election workers to serve the community on site.

Election workers are the same people you encounter in your communities every day. Polling places have the additional benefit of being controlled environments where we will apply health and safety measures rigorously.

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Will Elections Canada require proof of vaccination to vote?

Elections Canada will not require electors to provide proof of vaccination.

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I will have to quarantine at home or reside in a Designated Quarantine Facility on election day and/or advance polling days when I return from traveling. How do I vote?

  • Plan to vote early.
  • You can vote by mail from anywhere, but you have to apply before September 14, 6:00 p.m., Eastern time.
  • Apply online, by mail or fax, or in person at any Elections Canada office.
  • You will receive your special ballot voting kit by mail at the address of your choice, return your marked ballot to Elections Canada by election day.
  • If you are in a quarantine facility or quarantining at home during advance polling days or election day, and you did not request a mail-in ballot by the September 14, 6:00 p.m. deadline, you will be out of voting options.

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At an Elections Canada office

What health and safety measures will be in place at Elections Canada offices?

Electors can expect to see the following health and safety measures in place at Elections Canada offices:

  • Physical distancing and other measures recommended by public health authorities will be implemented.
  • Masks will be available to electors who do not bring their own.
  • Office workers will be provided with masks, face shields and other protective equipment.
  • Hand sanitizing stations will be placed at entrances/exits and key areas inside the office.
  • Larger offices will be used where possible to enable physical distancing between electors and workers. Health and safety equipment, including plexiglass barriers, will also be installed.
  • The number of electors and workers present in the office at any time will be limited.
  • Electors will be provided with a single-use pencil to mark their ballot, or they can bring their own pen or pencil.

Physical distancing and additional health and safety measures in the office may mean that services, including registration and special ballot voting, will take longer.

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Will I be allowed to vote by special ballot in Elections Canada offices?

Yes. There are over 500 Elections Canada offices across Canada. Electors who do not want to visit an office or polling place are encouraged to apply to vote by mail; deadlines apply.

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Voting assistance and tools

Will large-grip pencils be provided at the polls?

Yes. Large-grip pencils will be provided to electors who need them. Electors can also bring their own pen or pencil.

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What if I need assistance to vote/mark my ballot?

Electors with disabilities can bring a friend, spouse or partner, relative, or support worker to help them mark their ballot. To protect the secrecy of the vote, this person must make a solemn declaration before helping the elector. A friend or support worker can assist only one elector, and they must declare that they have helped only one person. A relative or a spouse or partner can assist more than one family member, but only one elector outside their family. The helper does not need to be a Canadian citizen or an eligible elector. Electors can also ask an election worker for assistance.

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