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Special Ballot Voting

Any elector who cannot or does not want to vote at an advance or election day poll can apply to vote by special ballot. With a special ballot, you can vote by mail or in person at any Elections Canada office.

Special ballot voting is also a great option if you are away from your riding whether inside or outside Canada.

To vote, all electors must prove their identity and address. You must submit copies of your accepted ID either online or through mail or fax. See the options available to prove your identity. Once Elections Canada verifies your identity and address, you will receive a special ballot voting kit.

Note: You are eligible to vote if you are a Canadian citizen and at least 18 years old on election day.

Read more about Elections Canada’s safeguards for the vote-by-mail system.

How It Works

illustration of a ballot with no name of candidateVoting by special ballot is different from voting on election day or at advance polls. When you vote by special ballot, your ballot won't show a list of candidates to choose from. Instead, there is a blank space on the ballot for you to write the name of the candidate you're voting for. Since potential candidates can file their nomination papers until three weeks before election day, ballots with candidate names are only available at advance polls and on election day.

Here's how it works.

  1. Choose a candidate running for election in your riding.

    To find the most recent list of confirmed candidates, check our online Voter Information Service or contact us. If you are voting at an Elections Canada office, ask an election worker for the current list of confirmed candidates in your riding.

    If you are abroad, you can get the list of candidates at most Canadian embassies, high commissions and consulates. As some diplomatic offices do not offer electoral services, we recommend that you contact the office to see whether services are available before visiting in person.

  2. Once you have your special ballot, write the first and last name of your chosen candidate on the ballot. You do not have to write the name of the political party. However, if you only write the name of a political party, your vote won't be counted.

  3. Place your completed special ballot in the unmarked inner envelope provided and seal it. Then, place the unmarked inner envelope in the outer envelope showing your information and seal it. Lastly, sign and date the declaration on the front of that outer envelope. It is an offence under the Canada Elections Act to pretend that you are someone else in order to vote.

    illustration of a completed special ballot placed in the unmarked inner envelope and illustration of the signing and dating of the declaration on the front of that outer envelope

  4. If you are voting in person at an Elections Canada office, you may drop your envelope in a ballot box.

    If you're voting by mail, follow the instructions that you received with your voting kit, and return your ballot using the pre-addressed return envelope provided. Make sure that Elections Canada receives your ballot by election day at 6:00 p.m., Eastern time. Ballots that arrive after the deadline will not be counted, so make sure to factor in how long it will take for your ballot to arrive in the mail.

    illustration of the deposit of the enveloppe in a ballot box or illustration of the mailing of the ballot

When it's time to count the ballots, election workers will open all of the signed outer envelopes and remove all of the unmarked inner envelopes. They will then return only the unmarked inner envelopes to the ballot boxes and mix them up. In this way, no envelope can be traced back to the voter and the vote is kept secret.

For more information, please select the best description of your situation:

  1. You reside in Canada and will be in your riding during the election, but you do not want to go to an election day or advance poll to vote.
  2. You reside in Canada but you will be temporarily away from your riding during the election (whether in Canada or abroad).
  3. You do not reside in Canada.
  4. You are a member of the Canadian Armed Forces.
  5. You are searching for information for an incarcerated elector.
  6. You work in an isolated area of Canada.

In all these cases, you must have a physical address (not a P.O. box) in Canada in order to vote. Your vote will be counted for the electoral district where your address is located. Once you apply to vote by special ballot, you can only vote in this way. You cannot vote at the election day or advance poll.

Only Canadian citizens who will be at least 18 years old on election day are allowed to vote.