Elections Canada through the decades
The Office of the Chief Electoral Officer of Canada, commonly known as Elections Canada, has expanded and evolved since it was created in 1920. Here is a look back at some developments that have helped shape the agency through the decades.
- The Office of the Chief Electoral Officer is created on July 1, 1920.
- Oliver Mowat Biggar is appointed Canada's first Chief Electoral Officer.
- Work begins to improve the administration of Canadian elections and develop accurate federal voters lists.
- Elections Canada administers its first federal election in 1921.
- Jules Castonguay becomes Canada's second Chief Electoral Officer in 1927.
- Elections Canada begins using enumerators–people who would go door to door to make a list of those who were eligible to vote–to create and revise federal voters lists.
- The agency tries to create a permanent voters list for the first time in 1934 but abandons the process for financial reasons.
- Registered voters in the 1935 federal election receive a postcard telling them where to vote but this practice is discontinued until 1982.
- Elections Canada conducts a national referendum in 1942 on whether military service should be compulsory during the Second World War.
- Nearly 350,000 overseas military members vote by mail during the 1945 federal election.
- Changes to election laws allow Canadians three hours off work to vote.
- Nelson Jules Castonguay, son of outgoing Chief Electoral Officer Jules Castonguay, becomes Canada's third Chief Electoral Officer in 1949.
- Elections Canada begins setting up polling stations in sanatoriums and chronic care hospitals to make it easier for patients to vote.
- Canadians who have been taken prisoner in the Korean War (1950–1953) are able to designate someone to vote on their behalf.
- Elections Canada implements extended advance voting, allowing anyone who thinks they will be away on election day to vote in advance.
- Parliament asks Elections Canada to provide data and technical support in the new, impartial process of redrawing Canada's federal electoral districts every 10 years.
- The agency assists with the first redistribution process using the new system in 1964.
- Jean-Marc Hamel becomes Canada's fourth Chief Electoral Officer in 1966.
- In 1972, Elections Canada administers the first federal election in which Canadians 18 and older are allowed to vote.
- Parliament assigns Elections Canada the role of regulating new campaign expense limits in 1974.
- Elections Canada is tasked with creating a register of federal political parties that meet requirements outlined in the Canada Elections Act.
- Elections Canada begins adding each candidate's political affiliation beside their name on the ballot.
- The agency starts using cardboard ballot boxes at some polling stations instead of the metal ones that had been used for decades.
- Voters begin receiving a personal Voter Information Card in the mail before each election, with information on where and when to vote.
- Elections Canada offers a phone-in enquiry service for Canadians for the first time. Workers receive 42,000 calls in 47 days during the 1988 election.
- Jean-Pierre Kingsley is appointed as the fifth Chief Electoral Officer of Canada in 1990.
- Elections Canada conducts the 1992 national referendum on the Charlottetown Accord, a set of proposed changes to Canada's constitution.
- Parliament adds informing and educating the public to Elections Canada's responsibilities.
- Elections Canada's website, elections.ca, goes live for the first time in 1995.
- In 1997, Elections Canada launches the National Register of Electors, a permanent, continually updated database of Canadians who are eligible to vote.
- Elections Canada assists with international missions in Iraq and Haiti as part of ongoing work to share best practices with developing democracies.
- Legislative changes establish a fixed date for federal elections: the third Monday of October, four years after the previous federal election.
- Marc Mayrand becomes Canada's sixth Chief Electoral Officer in 2007.
- Elections Canada implements legislative changes that require voters to prove their identity and address before they can vote.
- In 2015, Elections Canada administers Canada's longest federal election, which lasts for 78 days.
- In 2018, Stéphane Perrault, the current Chief Electoral Officer, becomes the seventh person to hold this position.
- Parliament directs the agency to create a Register of Future Electors for Canadian citizens ages 14 to 17.
- Elections Canada works with national security agencies to strengthen cybersecurity during the 2019 election.