Federal Election
Monday, October 21

Voter registration safeguards

The federal electoral process has many safeguards, including measures that keep voter registration information accurate and up-to-date.

Updating voter registrations

  • Canada has more than 27 million eligible voters. Most of them are already registered.
  • The voter registration picture is constantly changing: every year, 2.9 million Canadians move, 100,000 become citizens, 400,000 turn 18, and 300,000 electors pass away.
  • To keep up with the changes, Elections Canada updates voter registrations continually.
    • On an ongoing basis, Canadians can use our voter registration service to check if they are registered, register for the first time, or update the address on their registration.
    • Between elections, Elections Canada updates registrations using data from over 40 sources, including:
      • the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) for people who tick boxes on their tax return allowing for the sharing of their information with Elections Canada
      • driver's license bureaus
      • provincial voters lists
      • voter registration mailings—letters we send to potential electors
    • During elections, electors can also register or update their registration by:
      • visiting an Elections Canada registration kiosk at a local mall or other venue
      • completing a paper registration form at their Elections Canada office, giving their registration details to Elections Canada office staff who go door-to-door to register people in some neighbourhoods that people tend to move in and out of often
      • registering at their assigned polling station just before they vote

Making sure people are eligible

  • When people register, they must sign a written affirmation that they are a Canadian citizen and will be at least 18 years old on election day. They must also confirm their identity.
  • When they vote, voters must present voter ID with the same name and address that is on their voter registration file.
  • Elections Canada regularly sends verification mailings to check whether recipients' data is current and they are truly eligible to vote. If they are not eligible, they cannot register. Elections Canada receives citizenship information from Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada. Elections Canada uses that information to remove non-citizens from the National Register of Electors. Following the election, Elections Canada also uses that information to verify whether non-citizens voted. If non-citizens are found to have voted, cases may be referred to the Commissioner of Canada Elections.

Keeping track of who has already voted

  • Many safeguards are in place to help ensure that only eligible voters can vote and that they vote only once and only in the electoral district where they live.
    • Voters must vote at the assigned polling station associated with their home address.
    • Once someone votes in person or asks for a special ballot, election workers mark the voters list to show that the person has already voted and cannot vote again at this election.

Guarding voters' privacy

  • Elections Canada holds limited private elector information, including the name, address and date of birth.
    • We do not have voters' social insurance (SIN) numbers.
    • We do not generally have voters' phone numbers or email addresses.
      • We only have the phone number or email address of people who provided it to us so we can follow up with them about a specific request.
      • Elections Canada does not provide voters' phone numbers or email addresses to political parties or anyone else.
  • Elections Canada takes many precautions to ensure that the private information we hold is kept secure and used for authorized purposes only:
    • All Elections Canada headquarters staff is screened in accordance with the Government of Canada Security screening standard.
    • Field liaison officers, returning officers, assistant returning officers, and additional assistant returning officers are also screened in accordance with the Government of Canada Security screening standard.
    • All Elections Canada employees (including temporary staff and select field workers, such as central poll supervisors) receive security awareness training. There are technology and physical safeguards in place to restrict access to private information.
  • Elections Canada upholds the Privacy Act.