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Voting in a Federal Election

Voting in a Federal Election

In a federal election, we choose members of Parliament (MPs) to represent us in Ottawa.

To vote , you must:


When you vote, you must  prove your identity and address (for a list of accepted documents, click here).

You have three options:

  • Show one original piece of identification issued by a Canadian government, whether federal, provincial or local, or an agency of that government, that contains your photo, name and address (for example, a driver's licence), or
  • Show two pieces of identification from a list authorized by the Chief Electoral Officer of Canada. Both must have your name and one must also have your address (such as a health card and hydro bill), or
  • If you have two pieces of identification but can't prove where you live, you may have your residence attested to by another elector who knows you, who lives in the same polling division as you, and is on the list of electors or is registering to vote (for example, a neighbour or your roommate who has proof of identification and address). In this case, you must both take a written oath.

Note: Pieces of identification must be in either English or French. In Nunavut, pieces of identification will also be accepted in Inuktitut. Expired documents are accepted.

Make sure you are on the list of electors

Elections Canada produces the preliminary lists of electors from information in the National Register of Electors. Shortly after the election is called, Elections Canada will mail a voter information card to everyone on the list of electors. Please carefully read the card you receive and make sure that your name and address are correct.

If you do not receive a voter information card, it may mean that you are not registered on the list of electors. You can also register at the polling station during advance polls or on election day, but to save time, register ahead of election day. For more information on how to register to vote, call Elections Canada at 1-800-463-6868.Remember, to vote you must prove your identity and address.

There are three ways you can vote

1. On election day

2. At an advance poll

3. Vote by special ballot

You can vote by special ballot if you can't go to your polling station to vote (either on election day or at the advance polls) or for any other reason. You can get a special ballot registration form from your local Elections Canada office, from the Elections Canada Web site (, or by calling Elections Canada. If you want to vote by special ballot, apply early. The last day to request a special ballot is 6:00 p.m. on the sixth day before election day.

Once you apply for a special ballot, you can only vote that way, and cannot vote at the advance polls or on election day. If you request a voting kit and do not receive it, contact Elections Canada office in Gatineau.

Electors wearing face coverings

If an elector wearing a face covering comes to vote, the deputy returning officer will ask the elector to show their face. If the elector agrees to remove their face covering, the election official will follow regular voting procedures. Election officials have been instructed to exercise respect and sensitivity in following this administrative procedure.

If the elector does not wish to remove their face covering, the deputy returning officer will advise the elector that they must provide two pieces of authorized identification, one proving their identity and the other proving their identity and address, and then take an oath attesting to their eligibility to vote. If the elector agrees to provide the identification and take the oath, the election official will follow regular voting procedures.

If the elector refuses to uncover their face and also refuses to provide two pieces of identification and take the oath, they will not be permitted to vote.

Are you ready to vote? It's your future!

Glossary of election terms

advance poll
a poll is a voting place – advance polls are held so that people who don't wish to or are not able to vote on election day can vote ahead of time
the paper you mark your vote on
a person who is running in a federal election or by-election for a seat in Parliament
Elections Canada
an independent body set up by Parliament
electoral district
sometimes called a riding or constituency – an area represented in Parliament by one elected politician
National Register of Electors
Elections Canada has a computerized list of electors that is kept up-to-date by using information from other government files (such as driver's licence files). People who have recently moved or turned 18 may need to contact Elections Canada to make sure they are on the list of electors for an election.
poll, polling station
the place where you vote (the address depends on where you live)
registering to vote
getting your name on the list of electors, at the right address
returning officer
the person in each electoral district who is responsible for organizing the voting and making sure it is fair
a person who is qualified to vote (in Canada, this means a Canadian citizen who is 18 years of age or older on election day)
voter information card
a card with your name and address. It shows that you are on the list of electors and tells you where and when you can vote.
voters list
a list of all qualified electors in an electoral district