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Election 2004 Vote for Equality - Home > Election Basics: FAQs - Registration and Voting


Election Basics:
Frequently Asked Questions - Registration and Voting

Elections Canada

bullet Am I registered to vote?
bullet I recently moved. Am I still registered to vote?
bullet I'm a new citizen. How do I register to vote?
bullet

Who is entitled to vote?

bullet How is the Register updated?
bullet

Why should I vote?

bullet Can I still vote if I checked "no" on my tax form?
bullet Can I register to vote while I'm away from Canada?
bullet How do military personnel vote?
bullet What is a Statement of Ordinary Residence?
bullet How do I change my Statement of Ordinary Residence?
bullet Can a person who is homeless vote?
bullet I'm currently serving a prison sentence. Can I vote? When? How?
bullet Can I vote in the federal election if I am a British citizen?
bullet What is my electoral district?
bullet What measures are in place to ensure the secrecy of the vote?



 

bullet Am I registered to vote?

The vast majority of electors are registered in the National Register of Electors, which is used to produce the preliminary voters lists for federal elections, by-elections and referendums. If you voted in the last general election, you may be registered to vote at the address where you lived at that time. Elections Canada updates the Register from a number of sources, so if you have moved since then, your address change may also have been registered.


 

bullet I recently moved. Am I still registered to vote?

If you have recently moved, your name will still be registered, but you may need to update your address. Elections Canada updates the National Register of Electors from a number of sources, so your address may have been updated already.



 

bullet I'm a new citizen. How do I register to vote?

As a new citizen, you should have completed the application for citizenship through Citizenship and Immigration Canada. You are registered to vote if you checked off the consent box on the application, consenting to be added to the Register. You will receive no further confirmation.

 



bullet Who is entitled to vote?

You are entitled to vote in federal elections and referendums if you are a Canadian citizen, and will be 18 or older on polling day. See also section 3 of the Canada Elections Act.

If you are an elector (a person who is eligible to vote) and have been living away from Canada for less than five consecutive years since your last visit home, you are eligible to vote under The Special Voting Rules. You can register to vote at any time – just follow this link.

Incarcerated electors who are serving a prison sentence in a Canadian correctional institution, have the right to vote in federal elections and referendums. For details, see Voting by Incarcerated Electors. You can also consult the October 31, 2002 press release on voting rights of incarcerated electors.


 

bullet How is the Register updated?

The Register is updated using the following sources:

  • provincial and territorial motor vehicle registrars
  • Canada Customs and Revenue Agency
  • Citizenship and Immigration Canada
  • provincial and territorial vital statistics registrars, and provincial electoral agencies with permanent lists of electors (e.g. British Columbia and Quebec)
  • information supplied by electors when they register to vote or revise their information during and between federal electoral events
  • proven electoral lists from other Canadian jurisdictions

 

bullet 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.


 

bullet Can I still vote if I checked "no" on my tax form?

Yes, you can still vote if you checked "no" on your tax form. A "no" on the tax form does not remove your name from the National Register of Electors. The purpose of this box is to ask permission to update or add your entry in the Register.

If you voted in the last general election, you will still be listed in the Register. If you have moved since then, you may have to update your address to make sure your name appears on the voters list at your new location.


 

bullet Can I register to vote while I'm away from Canada?

Electors who will be away from Canada on election day or during the advance polls can register to vote by special mail-in ballot. For details, see the backgrounder, Voting by Special Ballot, where you will find information on eligibility, how to register and how to vote.



 

bullet How do military personnel vote?

Military personnel vote under the Special Voting Rules. If you have completed a Statement of Ordinary Residence (SOR), you will receive a special ballot voting kit after an election is called. Once you have voted, it is your responsibility to ensure your ballot arrives in Ottawa by 6:00 p.m., Ottawa time, on polling day. You may mail the ballot yourself, or, in most cases, you will have the option of leaving it with the deputy returning officer on the base to forward by special arrangement.

For more information, see the backgrounder, Voting by Special Ballot or the backgrounder, Voting by Special Ballot for Canadian Forces Electors.




 

bullet What is a Statement of Ordinary Residence?

Upon joining the Canadian Forces, a member completes a form called the Statement of Ordinary Residence (SOR). The address given on this form determines the riding for which your vote is counted.

Once you have completed the SOR, you do not have to register to vote by special ballot. You will automatically receive a special ballot voting kit during an election.


 

bullet How do I change my Statement of Ordinary Residence?

You may change your Statement of Ordinary Residence (SOR) at any time. It's easy to do.

  1. See the Department of National Defence coordinating officer, who will have the necessary forms on file.
  2. Fill out the form.
  3. Leave the form with the coordinating officer, who will forward it to Elections Canada.




 

bullet Can a person who is homeless vote?

Yes, an elector who is homeless or without a fixed address can vote, if he or she registers on the voters list during an election. To register, the elector must provide proof of identity and the address where he or she is staying.

Proof of identity can be an official document bearing the elector’s name and signature. For residence, the address of a local shelter is acceptable, if the shelter has provided food, lodging or other social services in the last 24 hours. Without such proof, a person who is homeless can register on election day by taking the prescribed oath as to identity and residence, as long as another voter who is registered in the same electoral district can vouch for that person.

 

 

bullet I'm currently serving a prison sentence. Can I vote? When? How?

Section 4(c) of the Canada Elections Act provides that every person who is emprisoned in a correctional institution serving a sentence of two years or more is not entitled to vote.

But, as a result of the constitutional challenge in the Supreme Court of Canada's decision in Sauvé v. Canada (Chief Electoral Officer) section 4(c) is of no force or effect. Therefore, all incarcerated persons are now entitled to vote.

For more information, please consult Elections Canada's press release of October 31, 2002.

 

bullet Can I vote in the federal election if I am a British citizen?

No. In 1970, amendments to the Canada Elections Act restricted the right to vote to Canadian citizens, although British subjects eligible to vote as of June 25, 1968, kept their right to vote until 1975.

 

bullet What is my electoral district?

Canada is divided into 308 electoral districts. One representative, or member of Parliament (MP), is elected for each electoral district.

Each electoral district has a returning officer, who opens an office when an electoral event is called. The returning officer is responsible for organizing and administering federal elections and referendums within that electoral district.

You can find the name of your riding on this site either by inputting your postal code or in other ways. Follow this link.

 

bullet What measures are in place to ensure the secrecy of the vote?

Ballots are printed on special paper stock. The number of sheets sent to printers and returned by them is closely controlled.

The ballot paper is divided into three detachable parts: the ballot itself, the counterfoil and the stub, which stays attached to the ballot book. The stub and counterfoil have a matching serial number printed on them. The serial number is strictly a temporary control mechanism used to ensure that the ballot given to the elector is the same ballot that is given back to the deputy returning officer. The serial number does not appear on the ballot itself, and it is not registered anywhere with the voter’s name.

Strict procedures at the polling station also ensure the secrecy of the vote. When electors enter the polling station, they present themselves to the deputy returning officer for their polling division. The poll clerk then checks to determine that each elector’s name appears on the voters list for that poll. Once an elector is confirmed to be on the list, the deputy returning officer removes an initialled and pre-folded ballot from the book – with its counterfoil still attached – and instructs the elector to go behind the voting screen, mark the ballot in secret and return it, folded, to the same deputy returning officer.

The deputy returning officer takes each ballot that is returned, without unfolding it, and checks that it is the same initialled ballot that was presented to the elector. The serial number on the counterfoil must match the serial number on the stub remaining in the book.

Once satisfied that the ballot is the same that was presented to the elector, the deputy returning officer removes and discards the counterfoil and returns the still folded ballot to the elector. The elector places the ballot in the ballot box, or asks the deputy returning officer to do so.

Once an elector has voted, the poll clerk places a check mark in a column next to that elector’s name on the voters list, indicating that the elector has voted, and crosses the elector’s name from the list.

The elector leaves the poll.

Section 163 of the Canada Elections Act states that "The vote is secret."

To further protect the secrecy of the vote, subsection 164(1) of the Act states that "Every candidate, election officer or representative of a candidate present at a polling station or at the counting of the votes shall maintain the secrecy of the vote." Contravening this provision is an offence under the Act.

Elections Canada does not collect or hold data on how any individual elector has voted.


Visit Elections Canada's website for additional Voter Information

Elections Canada



A Voter Education & Awareness Campaign  for Women's Equality Rights in Canada

Page last updated May 28, 2004


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