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National Register of Electors - Updates: June 2019 Annual Lists

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In accordance with the Canada Elections Act, Elections Canada provides lists of electors (containing name, address and unique identifier) to members of Parliament by November 15 of each year and, upon request, to each federal registered party for any electoral district in which the party endorsed a candidate in the last general election or by-election.

This document provides an overview of the primary sources of information used to update the National Register of Electors, as well as information on the quality of the lists.

Note: Due to the upcoming 2019 October general election, this document is being published in June 2019 instead of November 2019.


The data extracted for this purpose reflect updates to the National Register of Electors made on the basis of information received from federal, provincial and territorial administrative sources, from lists of electors provided by other electoral agencies and from the Elections Canada Online Voter Registration Service. Since November 15, 2018, some 250,000 new electors were added to the Register. The majority (131,000) are electors aged 18 to 24. Records for some 151,000 deceased electors were removed from the Register, and 12,000 duplicate records were removed from the lists. In addition, address changes were made for nearly 1.6 million electors to reflect their moves. The current lists also reflect improvements made to address information.

The June 2019 annual lists contain 93.5 percent of the 27.2 million eligible electors (see Table 1). Some 84.9 percent of the eligible electors, or 23.1 million electors, are registered at their current residential address. Among registered electors, 90.8 percent are listed at their current residential address.

Table 1. Registered and Eligible Electors and Estimates of Quality, June 2019 and November 2018 Annual Lists
  June 2019 November 2018
Registered electors 26,122,834 26,038,264
Eligible electorsFootnote 1 27,243,224 27,079,299
CoverageFootnote 2 (%) 93.5 93.8
CurrencyFootnote 3 (%) 84.9 87.6
AccuracyFootnote 3 (%) 90.8 93.3

Footnote 1 The electoral population is estimated using information from the 2016 Census of Population and National Household Survey, adjusted for census net undercoverage, as well as demographic components of growth.

Footnote 2 The coverage for 2019 was adjusted from 95.9 percent to 93.5 percent to account for deceased electors, duplicates and non–Canadian citizens. The adjustment is similar to those made in previous years. Currency and accuracy were also adjusted accordingly.

Footnote 3 As of June 2019, currency and accuracy estimates were obtained using a new approach. Estimates for previous periods have not been adjusted therefore differences with November 2018 estimates are mainly due to a change in methodology. More information can be found in Section 3.5.

1. Background

The National Register of Electors (the Register) is a database of Canadians who are qualified to vote in federal elections. The Register contains the name, gender, date of birth, address and unique identifier of each elector.

Elections Canada uses the information in the Register to produce preliminary lists of electors for federal elections, by-elections and referendums, and to provide lists to members of Parliament and, on request, to registered political parties by November 15 of each year. The Canada Elections Act also allows Elections Canada to provide Register data to other jurisdictions (provinces, territories, municipalities and school boards) for electoral purposes, where data-sharing agreements have been signed.

2. Updating

According to Statistics Canada, some 14 percent of elector information changes every year. These changes involve moves (11 percent), new 18-year-olds (2 percent), new citizens (less than 1 percent) and deaths (1 percent). To reflect these demographic changes, the Register is regularly updated using federal, provincial, territorial and some municipal administrative data sources. It may also be updated using electoral lists from other jurisdictions. Revisions made to lists of electors during federal elections are another important source of Register updates. Since November 15, 2018, the Register has been updated using the following sources:

  1. Canada Revenue Agency: This includes the name, address and date of birth of tax filers who indicated that they are Canadian citizens and consented to their information being provided to Elections Canada. Generally, around 81 percent of tax filers gave consent on their T1 tax returns.
  2. Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada: This includes the name, address, date of birth, gender and date of citizenship conferral of new Canadians who consented to their information being provided to Elections Canada once their citizenship was granted. Generally, around 96 percent of new citizens consent to this transfer.
  3. National Defence: This includes the name, gender, date of birth and address used for voting purposes of Canadian Forces Regular Force members obtained from individual Statement of Ordinary Residence forms. The information of deceased members was removed.
  4. Provincial and territorial motor vehicle agencies: This includes driver information from each province and territory, except Quebec. For Quebec, elector updates are obtained through that province's permanent voters list.
  5. Provincial and territorial vital statistics agencies: This includes information on deceased persons from each province and territory, except Quebec. For Quebec, deceased electors' information is obtained through that province's permanent voters list. The Canada Revenue Agency and provincial and territorial motor vehicle agencies also provide information on deceased persons.
  6. Provincial and territorial electoral lists: This includes elector information from the permanent voters list maintained by Élections Québec. Also included are the list of electors received from the municipal election in the City of Whitehorse, Yukon (October 2018), the provincial elections in Ontario (polling day registrations of the June 2018 provincial election) and Québec (October 2018), and the British Columbia referendum (December 2018).
  7. Elector-initiated updates: This includes requests from electors to have their information updated or added to the Register, in addition to requests to opt out of the Register entirely or to opt out of sharing their information with other jurisdictions. Since the establishment of the Register in 1997, there have been some 4,200 requests to opt out of the Register entirely and some 160 requests to opt out of sharing with other jurisdictions. The electors who have requested to opt out entirely do not appear on the June 2019 annual lists. Since November 15, 2018, 5,273 changes of address and 20,882 registration requests were submitted through the Online Voter Registration Service, while 4,253 registration/update requests were submitted through paper forms.
  8. Federal by-elections: This includes changes to the Register as a result of the by-elections held in Leeds–Grenville–Thousand Islands and Rideau Lakes (December 2018), York–Simcoe, Burnaby South and finally Outremont (February 2019).
  9. Removal of duplicates: This includes regular verifications to identify and remove duplicates (individuals for whom more than one record is found) from the Register. Since November 15, 2018, some 12,000 records were identified as duplicates and were removed from the lists.

3. Quality

The main indicators used to measure the quality of information in the Register are coverage, currency and accuracy. These indicators are described below, along with the corresponding estimates for the June 2019 annual lists. Refer to section 3.4 for information on how to interpret these measures.

3.1 Coverage

The percentage of electors included in the Register (coverage) is one of the key indicators used to measure the extent to which Canadians can exercise their democratic right to vote. To reflect current and upcoming activities to be implemented before the 2019 general election, the national coverage target was increased as of April from 92 to 94 percent. Therefore, the 2019 Annual Lists of Electors has been assessed against this new target.

Coverage measurements involve determining what proportion of the population is represented on the lists. This entails comparing the number of electors on the lists with an estimate of the total number of Canadian citizens aged 18 and over. This makes it possible for Elections Canada to assess the quality of the Register relative to its national registration target of 94 percent.

Elections Canada prepares estimates of eligible electors based on information provided by Statistics Canada and Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada. A demographic approach is used to derive estimates at the electoral district level using detailed information on new adults, deceased electors, new citizens, electors who move between electoral districts and electors leaving the country permanently. This information is used to estimate demographic changes. The sum of the electoral district estimates provides provincial/territorial and national estimates.

Coverage estimates for Canada and the provinces and territories are shown in Chart 1 and Table 2. A comparison of registered electors estimates with eligible electors estimates indicates that the June 2019 annual lists include some 93.5 percent of Canadian electors—which is slightly below the newly established Elections Canada target of 94 percent.

Some 26,000 electors do not appear on the lists because their address has not yet been assigned to an electoral district and polling division.

Coverage may vary by region because of various factors:

  • Demographic changes;
  • Availability of data sources used to update the Register;
  • Rates of consent to share information;
  • Information for some people does not appear in any administrative files used for updating purposes;
  • Some records cannot be positively matched with information held in the Register;
  • Lapse of time between a demographic change and the time the information is provided to and processed by Elections Canada.

The coverage of lists of electors in Prince Edward Island, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and Quebec are above the national target of 94 percent. Among the territories, only Yukon has a coverage exceeding the national target. Higher demographic growth partly explains the lower coverage of the lists in the Northwest Territories and Nunavut.

Chart 1. Coverage Estimates, Canada, Provinces and Territories, June 2019 Annual Lists of Electors

Chart 1. Coverage Estimates Text version of "Coverage Estimates, Canada, Provinces and Territories, June 2019 Annual Lists of Electors"

Registration of young electors poses additional challenges as the information from administrative sources may be available to Elections Canada only several months after they have reached the eligibility age.

Chart 2 illustrates that the gap between registered electors and eligible electors decreases steadily with age. Electors who have recently become eligible to vote (18-year-olds) represent the largest gap with only 121,000 registrations out of the 369,000 newly eligible electors. The gap decreases considerably for 19-year-olds (214,000 registrations out of 384,000 eligible electors) and continues to decrease up to the age of 40[1]. After that age, the Register contains information for nearly all eligible electors.

Chart 2. Eligible Electors and Registered Electors Footnote 1 by AgeFootnote 2,3,4, Canada, June 2019 Annual Lists of Electors, in thousands

Chart 2. Eligible Electors and Registered Electors by Age

Text version of "Eligible Electors and Registered Electors by Age, Canada, June 2019 Annual Lists of Electors, in thousands"

Footnote 1 Based on counts from Statistics Canada (2016 Census of Population, adjusted for census net undercoverage and demographic growth). Eligible electors are Canadian citizens aged 18 and over.

Footnote 2 Source: National Register of Electors (NROE).

Footnote 3 The NROE contains a small number of deceased electors, non-citizens and duplicate records. This explains why the number of registered electors is slightly greater than the number of eligible electors at some ages.

Footnote 4 Persons aged 100 and over are excluded from the chart.

3.2 Currency

The second measure of the quality of the lists is the currency of electors' addresses. Measuring the currency of the lists comes down to answering the following question: "What proportion of eligible electors are registered at their current address?"

The currency of lists is estimated by comparing the number of updates made to electors' addresses in the Register with the estimated number of moves in each region of the country. Updating addresses presents a number of challenges. In addition to the factors listed above, the high number of moves and the variations by region could also explain differences in currency. That is why the national currency target of 80 percent is set lower than the coverage target.

Currency estimates for Canada, the provinces and territories are provided in Table 2. Some 84.9 percent of eligible electors across the country are registered at their current address. The currency of lists is above 80 (the national target) in all provinces, except Newfoundland and Labrador, Saskatchewan, Alberta and the three territories. The lower currency in those areas is partly explained by their lower coverage and higher mobility rate. Various measures are put in place locally at election time to improve these lists.

3.3 Accuracy

Accuracy of the electoral lists is derived by dividing the currency estimates by the coverage estimates. It represents the proportion of registered electors listed at their current residential address. In other words, it answers the question, "What proportion of electors on the lists is at the current residential address?"

Whereas currency indicates the proportion of eligible electors registered at their current address, accuracy measures the proportion of registered electors listed at their current address. Refer to section 3.4 for information on how to interpret these measures.

Among electors appearing on the June 2019 annual lists, it is estimated that 90.8 percent of the electors on the lists have current residential address information. In all provinces, except Newfoundland and Labrador, Prince Edward Island, Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta and in the territories, over nine registered electors out of 10 are listed at their current address.

Table 2. Estimated Percentages of Coverage, Currency and AccuracyFootnote 1, Canada, Provinces and Territories, June 2019 Annual Lists of Electors
  Coverage (national target 94%) Currency (national target 80%) Accuracy
Canada 93.5 84.9 90.8
Newfoundland and Labrador 91.8 76.4 83.1
Prince Edward Island 96.5 82.1 85.1
Nova Scotia 96.1 86.8 90.3
New Brunswick 96.1 87.2 90.7
Quebec 97.2 92.0 94.7
Ontario 91.8 83.9 91.4
Manitoba 91.9 82.2 89.4
Saskatchewan 90.6 79.2 87.4
Alberta 92.1 79.8 86.6
British Columbia 93.0 81.6 87.8
Yukon 95.9 77.6 81.0
Northwest Territories 88.4 64.6 73.1
Nunavut 80.0 78.6 98.3

Footnote 1 The estimates are adjusted for deceased electors, duplicates and non–Canadian citizens. The quality estimates are subject to sampling errors. See section 3.5, Reliability of Quality Estimates.

3.4 Interpretation

To better understand the practical impact of the quality indicators of the lists, it is important to consider how the data is used in a federal election, by-elections or referendums. Shortly after an election is called, Voter Information Cards (VICs) are mailed to electors appearing on the preliminary lists of electors that are extracted from the Register. More than nine out of ten registered electors will receive VICs addressed to them that correctly indicate where they can vote in their electoral district (accuracy).

During an election, returning officers provide candidates with a Statement of Quality of the Preliminary Lists of Electors document. This document provides quality measures and estimated revision volumes for their electoral district. For example, lower currency estimates may result in a higher number of revisions or polling day registrations. The document also contains counts that reflect recent activities performed to improve the lists as well as targeted revision plans. The Chief Electoral Officer instructs each returning officer to discuss list quality issues with candidates during the candidates' briefing meeting, which must be held shortly after all candidates have been confirmed. Candidates are encouraged to raise questions and issues concerning the revision process and to advise the returning officer if they believe areas of the electoral district could benefit from additional targeted revision efforts.

3.5 Reliability of Quality Estimates

Elections Canada conducted the fifth iteration of its national Data Quality Confirmation Study (DQCS) in 2018. Previous studies took place in 2006, 2007, 2009 and 2014. The purpose of the study is to provide an independent assessment of the quality indicators of lists following the 2015 general election.

In the past, Elections Canada used conventional surveys to conduct these types of studies. After sampling elector records from the Register, these electors were contacted and asked to confirm their personal information. As it was becoming more and more difficult to reach electors, the chosen approach in 2019 involved a partnership with Statistics Canada and a shift from a survey-based approach to a record linkage one. Records from the Register were matched with various complete and reliable data sources held by the statistics agency. This resulted in a more comprehensive verification, reduced costs and improved quality indicators. These results serve as the baseline to produce the June 2019 annual lists quality indicators included in this document.

Since the 2014 DQCS, close to 12 million address updates were made to the lists, including all revisions that took place during the 2015 general election. Accounting for all these moves and comparing them to an estimated number of elector's moves resulted in an overestimation of list accuracy over time. Therefore, adjusted quality indicators using the 2018 DQCS reveal a decrease of 0.3 percentage points for the national coverage and of about 3 percentage point for currency and accuracy on a national scale.

4. Future Plans

4.1 Lists of electors and associated products

In early 2019, the agency launched a new online service portal entitled the Political Entities Service Centre (PESC). This secure portal offers an additional channel for political entities to access tools, information and services from Elections Canada.

During the pilot phase of PESC, Elections Canada is inviting target users (confirmed candidates, official agents and political parties) to set up their accounts so that they may access available tools and services. Full implementation of PESC is planned for the 2019 October general election. As such, in addition to receiving the June 2019 annual lists and its associated products on a USB key, political parties will be provided with access to the lists through PESC.

The following will be offered to PESC users securely:

  • Electoral documents such as lists of electors, lists of polling locations, electoral district maps, etc.;
  • Maintenance of their contact profile with Elections Canada;
  • Dedicated support information for political entities.

In the future, the PESC will serve as a one-stop shop for information and services for political entities (candidates, political parties and members of Parliament).

4.2 Upcoming activities to improve the 2019 Preliminary Lists of Electors

Following changes to the Canada Elections Act as a result of Bill C-76, Elections Canada's existing data sharing agreement with Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada was updated to allow Elections Canada to obtain information on permanent residents and foreign nationals. This data allows Elections Canada to identify individuals on the Register who do not currently have Canadian citizenship and are not qualified to vote. This summer, Elections Canada will be working to ensure these records (currently estimated at 110,000) do not appear on preliminary lists of electors prepared for the 2019 general election, thus improving the integrity of lists of electors.

This information will also allow Elections Canada to add new electors from existing data sources where Canadian citizenship had yet to be confirmed, this will result in an increase in the overall coverage on the preliminary lists of electors, but more specifically for youth coverage.

5. Conclusion

Elections Canada estimates that the June 2019 annual lists from the Register include some 93.5 percent of the 27.2 million eligible electors, and that some 84.9 percent of the eligible electors are registered at their current residential address. The proportion of registered electors listed at their current residential address is estimated at 90.8 percent.

Although national estimates are near the targets, it is important that electors and political entities understand that Register activities will continue throughout the summer and that revision procedures are essential to maintaining this level of quality.

It is ultimately up to electors to verify with Elections Canada that they are registered and that their information is up-to-date.

Footnote 1 According to the Retrospective Report on the 42nd General Election of October 19, 2015 (Chief Electoral Officer of Canada, 2016, page 19), Canadians aged 18 to 34 had the most registrations during the 42nd general election. Despite successful outreach to this age group, youth aged 18 to 34 remain registered at a lower rate than older electors. For example, among 18-year-olds, registration rates increased from 27 percent at the call of the election to 60 percent on final lists of electors, an increase of 33 percentage points.