Participating in a National Election

During a federal election, Canadians have the opportunity to select their representatives in Ottawa, known as Members of Parliament (MPs).

To participate in the voting process, you must meet the following requirements:

  • Hold Canadian citizenship
  • Be at least 18 years old on the day of the election
  • Provide proof of identity and address


The regulations for voting internationally differ from those within Canada. For more details, please refer to this page.

When voting in Canada, it is essential to demonstrate your identity and address (to find a list of acceptable documents, click here).

You have three options:

  • Present an original piece of photo identification issued by the Canadian government, whether federal, provincial, local, or an agency connected to the government. This identification must contain your photo, name, and address (e.g., driver's license), or
  • Show two pieces of identification from a list authorized by the Chief Electoral Officer of Canada. Both must display your name, and one must also include your address (e.g., health card and utility bill), or
  • If you are unable to meet the above requirements, you may still vote by providing a written declaration of your identity and address. In addition, you need someone assigned to your polling station who can vouch for you and confirm their identity and address. A person can vouch for only one individual except in long-term care institutions.

Note: Acceptable identification documents must be in English or French, except for Nunavut, where Inuktitut is also accepted. Expired documents are also valid.

Ensure your presence on the electors' list

Elections Canada generates preliminary lists of electors based on the information found in the National Register of Electors. Shortly after the election is announced, Elections Canada sends a voter information card to every individual in the electors' list. Carefully review the received card to ensure that your name and address are accurate.

  • If your name and address on the card are correct, retain it as evidence that you are registered to vote. The card also specifies when and where you can vote.
  • If the card displays incorrect information, contact Elections Canada using the phone number provided on the back of the card to rectify the error.

You should receive the voter information card approximately three weeks prior to the election day.

In case you do not receive a voter information card, it suggests that your name is not registered on the electors' list. You can reach out to your local Elections Canada office, which you can find here. Alternatively, you can register at the polling station during advance polls or on election day. However, to save time, it is advisable to register beforehand. For more information on voter registration, contact Elections Canada at 1-800-463-6868, or visit this page. Remember, proving your identity and address is a prerequisite for voting.

Three Ways to Cast Your Vote

1. Election Day Voting

  • If you possess a voter information card, take it with you when you visit the polling station mentioned on the card to vote.
  • If you don't have a voter information card and haven't registered earlier, you can still register to vote on election day by verifying your identity and address, as explained above. For your polling location, contact Elections Canada at 1-800-463-6868 or click here.

2. Advance Poll Voting

  • If you prefer not to vote on the election day, you have the option to cast your vote in advance at an authorized polling station. Your voter information card provides the dates and location. If you do not receive a voter information card, you can find your polling station here. Remember to bring the card with you. If necessary, you can also register at the advance poll location.

3. Special Ballot Voting

Any eligible voter can request to vote by special ballot. You can apply for a special ballot at any Elections Canada office, via mail, or through the Elections Canada website ( It is advisable to apply early, as the deadline to request a special ballot is 6:00 p.m. on the sixth day before the election day.

Once an application for a special ballot is submitted, the only permissible way to cast your vote is through this method. Voting at the advance polls or on the official election day will not be an option. If you have requested a voting kit but have not received it, it is advisable to get in touch with Elections Canada immediately.

Advance Poll: This refers to a designated location where voting is conducted before the official election day. It caters to individuals who either prefer or are unable to vote on the specified election day.

Ballot: The voting process entails marking your choice on a paper document known as a ballot.

Candidate: An individual who stands as a contender in either a federal election or by-election with the aim of securing a seat in Parliament.

Elections Canada: An independent organization established by Parliament to oversee electoral matters.

Elector: A person who possesses the necessary credentials to participate in voting. In Canada, this pertains to individuals who are 18 years or older on the day of the election and hold Canadian citizenship.

Electoral District: Commonly referred to as "riding" or "constituency," it represents a specific geographical area represented by one elected representative in Parliament.

National Register of Electors: Elections Canada maintains an updated computerized list of eligible voters by utilizing information from various government records, such as driver's license files. Those who have recently relocated or reached voting age may need to liaise with Elections Canada to ensure their inclusion in the electors' list for an election.

Poll/Polling Station: The designated location where individuals cast their vote. The specific address corresponds to the residence of the voter.

Registering to Vote: The process of having your name included in the list of electors at the correct address.

Returning Officer: A person appointed in each electoral district to oversee the organization of voting activities and ensure fairness.

Voter Information Card: A card that contains your name and address, serving as proof of your inclusion in the list of electors. It also provides information regarding the location and time frame for casting your vote.

List of Electors: A comprehensive record of all eligible voters within an electoral district.

September 2019

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