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Description of the National Register of Electors

About the National Register of Electors

Created in 1997, the National Register of Electors (the Register) is a permanent, continually updated database of Canadians who are qualified to vote in federal elections and referendums. It contains the name, address, gender and date of birth of each elector along with a unique identifier to help track changes to the elector's registration record. Elections Canada uses the information in the Register to create lists of electors at the beginning of federal elections and referendums.

Canadians may opt out of the National Register of Electors, if they choose. They do not lose their right to vote, if they do.

Benefits of the National Register of Electors

An accurate list of electors is the cornerstone of any democracy, and the Register helps to establish the list.

The Register makes it easy for eligible electors to register and have their information kept up to date. Electors who have registered once do not have to register again for every election. At the start of an election, they will automatically be sent a voter information card telling them when and where to vote in their electoral district. In addition, thanks to data-sharing agreements, the Register allows Elections Canada and other electoral agencies to improve the accuracy of registrations while saving taxpayer money.  

Maintaining the National Register of Electors

The Register contains records for over 27 million Canadians who are at least 18 years old and qualified to vote.

Approximately 14% of elector information changes every year: electors turning 18 and new Canadian citizens can be added to the Register, the names of deceased electors are removed, and electors who move have their addresses updated.

Average Annual Changes to the Electorate
Change Electors Affected % of Electors Primary Sources of Information
Address 2,900,000 11 Canada Revenue Agency; Department of National Defence; provincial and territorial driver's licence agencies; provincial and territorial electoral agencies with permanent voters lists; lists from recent provincial, territorial and federal elections, Elections Canada's Online Voter Registration Service
Persons reaching the age of 18 400,000 2 Canada Revenue Agency; provincial and territorial driver's licence agencies; provincial and territorial electoral agencies with permanent voters lists; lists from recent provincial, territorial and federal elections, federal Register of Future Electors
New citizens 100,000 0.4 Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada; lists from recent provincial, territorial and federal elections
Deaths 300,000 1 Canada Revenue Agency; provincial and territorial vital statistics agencies; provincial and territorial electoral agencies with permanent voters lists

Coverage of the National Register of Electors

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.

Coverage represents the proportion of qualified electors appearing on the Register. Since 2009, the national coverage has varied between 92% and 96.9% (see graph below). In April 2019, the coverage target was increased from 92% to 94%. As of November 2020, 96% of qualified electors appear on the Register.

Text description of graph "Coverage of the National Register of Electors from 2009 to 2020 (Canada)

The line plot shows the proportion of qualified electors appearing on the National Register of Electors from 2009 to 2020. Since 2009, the national coverage has varied between 92% and 96.9%. In April 2019, the coverage target was increased from 92% to 94%.The percentage values of the coverage at given estimation dates, including the 41st, 42nd and 43rd general elections (GE), are as follows:

  • November 2009, 94.0%
  • November 2010, 92.7%
  • August 2011 (41st GE final lists of electors), 93.2%
  • November 2012, 93.9%
  • November 2013, 92.1%
  • November 2014, 92.4%
  • June 2016 (42nd GE final lists of electors), 93.0%
  • November 2016, 93.4%
  • November 2017, 93.2%
  • November 2018, 93.8%
  • June 2019, 93.5%
  • November 2019 (43rd GE final list of electors), 96.9%
  • November 2020, 96.0%

Note: Coverage estimates are adjusted to account for deceased electors, duplicates and non-Canadian citizens.

Accuracy of the National Register of Electors

Elections Canada sponsored a study on the accuracy of the elector's address found on the voter information card (VIC).

In the study, Statistics Canada compared elector addresses in the databases of provincial and territorial driver's licence agencies to those collected as part of Statistics Canada's Labour Force Survey—which has one of the highest response rates among that agency's household surveys. Quebec and Alberta were excluded from the study, as their database was not available. As of April 2018, the study showed that 85% of elector addresses in the databases of driver's licence agencies are current and accurate, compared with 90.5% in the National Register of Electors.

Address accuracy is higher in the Register because Elections Canada processes multiple data sources to update it. As a result, the number of registrations during federal elections is lower. The high accuracy rate also means electors can use the VIC as proof of address, since they receive it at their current address, and it tells them where to go to vote.

Information sources that help maintain the National Register of Electors

The Register is updated regularly using information from these sources:

  • Canada Revenue Agency
    • For people who tick "Yes" in the Elections Canada section on their federal income tax form to state that they have Canadian citizenship and agree to share their name, date of birth and address
  • Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada
    • For new citizens who tick "Yes" on their citizenship application form to agree to share their name, gender, date of birth, address, Unique Client Identifier number and the date on which their citizenship was granted
    • To verify elector eligibility, information about individuals who may be ineligible to vote (i.e. permanent residents and foreign nationals) is shared. Elections Canada cross-checks this information with the Register and contacts those electors with conflicting information to confirm their eligibility to vote. Those who do not confirm within the legislated timeline are removed from the Register.
  • Department of National Defence
    • For Canadian Armed Forces members who share their name, gender, date of birth, service number and address to update the Register
  • Provincial and territorial driver's licence agencies*
  • Provincial and territorial vital statistics agencies*
  • Provincial and territorial electoral agencies with permanent voters lists
  • Voters lists from elections in provinces and territories
  • Voters lists from federal elections, by-elections and referendums
  • Information given to Elections Canada by electors when they register to vote or update their registration during and between elections, including through Elections Canada's Online Voter Registration Service
  • Information resulting from youth voter registration and elector record verification mailing initiatives   
  • Information about newly eligible electors who registered in the federal Register of Future Electors and turned 18 years old

*For Quebec, the province's permanent voters list provides updates.

Federal data sources share personal information with Elections Canada with the express consent of the elector. Provincial and territorial data sources are subject to the legislation that applies in their respective jurisdictions.

Sharing voter registration information with other electoral agencies

Elections Canada provides voter registration information (name, address, date of birth and gender) to all provincial and territorial electoral agencies and to some municipalities, where data-sharing agreements exist. Information is shared in accordance with the Canada Elections Act. The data-sharing agreements include conditions regarding the use and protection of personal information. 

Sharing voter registration information between electoral jurisdictions improves the accuracy of voters lists, making it easier to vote. It also reduces duplication, saving taxpayer money.

There is often a delay of several weeks or months between when the voter information is sent and when it gets reflected in the respective provincial, territorial and municipal voters lists.

Opting out of sharing information with other electoral agencies

If they wish, electors may ask Elections Canada not to provide their information to provincial, territorial and municipal electoral agencies. To request that your federal voter registration information not be provided to other electoral agencies, please write to Elections Canada. In your request, please include your name, date of birth, current home and mailing addresses, and signature.

Sharing voter registration information with political participants

In accordance with the Canada Elections Act, Elections Canada provides voters lists (containing name, address and unique identifier) to members of Parliament, registered and eligible political parties and candidates, who may use the information as authorized under the Act. The Guidelines on Use of the Lists of Electors explain what information is shared with members of Parliament, political parties and candidates; when it is shared; how they are authorized to use it; and their responsibility to safeguard this information.

Safeguarding your personal information

Elections Canada takes precautions to ensure that the information contained in the Register is kept secure and used for authorized purposes only. Employees' access to the Register is carefully controlled, and the database itself is physically secured and protected by hardware, software, firewalls and procedural controls.

Removing your name from the National Register of Electors

Canadians who are qualified to vote may choose whether to be included in the Register. Being in the Register has several benefits—you don't have to register at every election, and you are automatically sent a voter information card telling you when and where to vote. If you decide to opt out of the Register, you will lose these benefits, but not your right to vote.

To request to be removed from the Register, please write to Elections Canada. In your request, please include your name, date of birth, current home and mailing addresses, and signature.

If you've opted out of the Register and want to vote in a federal election, by-election or referendum, you must add your name to the voters list. Register at your local Elections Canada office during the revision period (from shortly after the call of the election until 6:00 p.m. on the Tuesday before election day), or register at your polling place at the advance poll or on election day.

The names of all people who voted are included on the final lists of electors. Names on the final lists of electors are added to the Register, except for those people who had previously requested to opt out of the Register, or who asked that their information not be included in the Register when they registered to vote.

Accessing the records we hold about you

Voters' registration information is protected by the Canada Elections Act and the Privacy Act. Under the Privacy Act, you may request access to your personal information held by Elections Canada. All personal information under the control of a government institution must be retained in a personal information bank that is registered with the federal government. Voters' information is held in Personal Information Bank CEO PPU 037, described in the Elections Canada chapter of Info Source – Sources of Federal Government and Employee Information.

The Privacy Commissioner of Canada has the right, at any time, to audit how Register information is collected, stored, updated and used, to ensure that electors' right to privacy is respected.

Please contact us for more information.