Federal Election Monday, September 20

Special ballot

The deadline to apply to vote by special ballot has passed. If you applied to vote by special ballot in this election, make sure to return your completed ballot to us by election day, Monday, September 20. Electors who applied before the deadline still have options for returning their completed special ballot.

  • If you are voting by special ballot from inside your riding, we must receive your completed ballot by the time polls close in your riding. If you are concerned about mailing your completed special ballot voting kit back in time, you can drop it off at your local Elections Canada office anytime before the polls close on election day. You can also drop it off at your assigned polling place, or at another polling place in your riding, on election day, Monday, September 20.
  • If you are voting by special ballot from outside of your riding, we must receive your completed ballot by election day, 6:00 p.m., Eastern time.

Details about deadlines are included in every special ballot voting kit.

Remember: Once you have applied to vote by special ballot, you can't change your mind and vote at advance polls or on election day.

Your ballot is your responsibility. If you need help returning your ballot, seal your ballot kit envelopes and choose someone you know and trust.

Voting by special ballot is different than voting on election day or at advance polls. You use the special ballot process when you vote:

How it works

When you vote by special ballot, your ballot won't have a list of candidates to choose from. Instead, there is a blank space for you to write the name of the candidate you're voting for. If you are voting by mail, we will send you a voting kit with detailed instructions. If you are voting at a local Elections Canada office, an election worker can help you if you have questions.

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

    The list of candidates is not final right away. Candidates continue to be confirmed until Monday, August 30. If you already know who you are voting for, you can mark and return your ballot at any time. If you aren't sure or prefer to wait until all of the candidates in your riding have been confirmed, you can simply wait until the final list has been published.

    To find the most recent list of confirmed candidates, check our online Voter Information Service or contact us. We update the list daily, but the final list will not be available until after the nomination process closes on Monday, August 30. 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 names 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. illustration of a ballot titled I vote for, with a line below to write the candidate's nameOnce 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, but if you do, your vote will still be counted as long as you also write the name of the candidate you're voting for. If you write only the name of a political party, your vote won't be counted.

  3. Place your completed special ballot in the unmarked envelope we provided and seal it. Then place the unmarked envelope into the envelope with your information on it, seal it, then sign and date the declaration on the 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 came with your voting kit and return your ballot using the pre-addressed return envelope provided. The postage is prepaid—you do not need to add a stamp. Make sure that Elections Canada receives your ballot by the deadline indicated in your voting kit. 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. If you are concerned about returning your ballot in time, you may consider using an expedited parcel delivery service, at your own cost. You can contact us at 1-800-463-6868 to check if your ballot has been received.

    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.

During and after elections, we carefully monitor suspicious patterns and anomalies. If Elections Canada detects evidence of an offence under the Canada Elections Act, the event information is provided to the Commissioner of Canada Elections for consideration.

Electors with a disability

If an elector is unable to read, mark their special ballot or use the envelope system because of a disability, we encourage them to either vote at their assigned advance poll or election day poll or go to their local Elections Canada office for assistance. If they cannot vote or visit their local Elections Canada office in person, they can contact their local office—before 6 p.m. on September 14, 2021—to ask whether they qualify for a home visit.