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Information for First-Time Voters – New Canadians

Research and consultations show that many new Canadians (Canadian citizens who have been in Canada for less than 10 years) face barriers to exercising their right to vote in a federal election.

Many new Canadians are not fluent in English or French, which can make finding and understanding election information more difficult. They are less likely to know if they are registered to vote. They are also more likely to say that they did not receive a voter information card and to assume that they could not vote.

Addressing the barriers

Elections Canada is working hard to make the electoral process and materials more accessible to new Canadians. Elections Canada is working with national and regional organizations to share our information campaign with new Canadians and those who may need services in languages other than English or French. As part of election worker recruitment, returning officers contact official-language minority organizations in their electoral district to seek applicants.

Election materials in multiple languages: Elections Canada offers our Guide to the Federal Election, which explains the entire registration and voting process, as well as the Voter ID info sheet, in more than 30 languages:

  • Albanian
  • Arabic
  • Armenian
  • Bengali
  • Cambodian
  • Chinese (simplified)
  • Chinese (traditional)
  • Croatian
  • Farsi (Persian)
  • German
  • Greek
  • Gujarat
  • Hebrew
  • Hindi
  • Hungarian
  • Italian
  • Korean
  • Polish
  • Portuguese
  • Punjabi
  • Romanian
  • Russian
  • Serbian
  • Somali
  • Spanish
  • Tagalog
  • Tamil
  • Turkish
  • Ukrainian
  • Urdu
  • Vietnamese
  • Yiddish

Interpretation services: We offer interpretation services at all of our more than 500 Elections Canada offices open during a general election, including our Vote On Campus offices. Our over-the-phone service covers more than 100 languages.

If booked in advance, we will have an interpreter at the polls to help you vote. The deadline to ask for interpretation services is the Tuesday before election day. 

Community Relations Officer Program: Our Community Relations Officer program has many goals, including:

  • Increasing election awareness;
  • providing information on where, when and ways to register to vote;
  • explaining the importance of registering to vote; and
  • making voting as accessible as possible for the communities in which they work.

During the 2015 general election, we had 132 community relations officers for new Canadians helping to improve access and reduce barriers. We are building on that success for the next general election.

Working with Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada: Elections Canada provides voter registration and election information materials to all participants of citizenship ceremonies that are held during election periods. We also provide these materials for large-scale special ceremonies, including swearing-in ceremonies on Parliament Hill on Canada Day, and others led by the Institute for Canadian Citizenship.

Inspire Democracy: New Canadians are a key group in our Inspire Democracy outreach program. Inspire Democracy workshops and participation at important conferences are ways we share information, understand barriers to voting, and discuss effective approaches to support voter participation. Inspire Democracy’s national outreach strategy for new Canadians has three core components: activities in the communities, a multi-platform advertising campaign, and targeted communication products in many languages.

It's Our Vote: The 2019 general election advertising campaign is called "It's Our Vote". It gives Canadians the information they need to become a candidate, work at an election, register and vote. This social and digital campaign will help reduce barriers to voting for first-time voters (youth aged 18–24 and new Canadians), Indigenous people and people with disabilities.

For more information on other ways Elections Canada is addressing barriers to voting go to: How & Where to Vote

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