Facts about voter information and privacy
Political parties' access to the personal information of electors
The Canada Elections Act states that Elections Canada must provide voters lists to members of Parliament, registered and eligible political parties, and candidates. These voters' lists, also known as lists of electors, contain the names, addresses and unique identifier numbers of voters.
When Elections Canada sends out the voters' lists, we also send the Guidelines for Use of the Lists of Electors to explain how recipients are allowed to use the lists and to remind them to keep the information private and safe.
Political parties often supplement the basic information they get from the voters' lists with information about voters derived from other sources.
Elections Canada's previous recommendations on political parties and voter data
After the 2015 general election, Elections Canada recommended to Parliament that political parties should not be allowed to get voters' lists until they met certain conditions such as proof:
- from an external auditor that the party has systems in place to protect the personal information of voters; and
- that these systems respect generally accepted privacy principles.
Elections Canada made a similar recommendation in 2013, following the 2011 general election.
What is proposed in Bill C-76
Privacy protection principles for political parties across the country
The federal Privacy Act and the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act do not apply to political parties. British Columbia is the only Canadian jurisdiction that has legislation that covers political parties in the province through the Personal Information Protection Act.
Elections Canada's privacy obligations
Elections Canada is subject to the Privacy Act. The Privacy Act states that personal information under the control of a government institution should not be disclosed to others unless allowed. The Canada Elections Act allows Elections Canada to share the voters lists, and states how the lists are to be shared and used.