Registering to Vote: How to Vote in Canadian Federal Election
If you’ve seen any Canadian news in the last little while, you’ll know that the campaign for the federal election has just kicked off. Which basically means you’re about to see a LOT of political posts pretty much everywhere. They can be hit and miss, some of them kind of annoying, and some quite informative, but none of it matters if you don’t actually vote!
So, if you don’t know how to vote, don’t know how to get registered to vote, or know why it’s even important for you to vote, this post is for you! Today, I’m going to give you step by step instructions that will have you totally informed and ready to share your voice on election day!
Now, I know you’re thinking, Brittany, come on this is a personal finance channel. I subscribed so you could teach me about how to handle money I do NOT care about politics. I get it. But just humour me for this one video alright?! Voting is SO IMPORTANT! It 100% affects your finances! Who do you think makes the laws about your money?!
Why Should You Care About Voting In The Canadian Federal Election?
Even if you don’t care about where your tax dollars go, you should at least care about decisions like how much you’re allowed to put in your TFSA or RRSP each year, or how student loans and grants are given out, how interest is charged on those loans, how sales tax is charged on items, how social programs are structured like childcare or housing benefits.
All of these things can directly affect your day to day money management, and the government is in charge of making decisions around all of it. Voting is your chance to have your voice, your thoughts and opinions, heard. If you don’t tell them what you want, you’ll never have a chance at getting it.
Before we get into the details, I just want to put a little disclaimer here:
I DON’T care who you vote for. I’m not even going to mention a single political party name in this video because I want you to make your own, independent decisions about what’s important to you. If our political views are completely different, and you end up supporting someone I would never in a million years vote for, I’m GLAD! That’s how democracy is supposed to work!
When Is the Federal Election?
Federal Elections in Canada (that’s the one where the Prime Minister is decided) are held on the 3rd Monday of October in the fourth calendar year following the previous federal election. This year, that’s October 21st 2019.
In order to be eligible to vote in Canada, you need to be:
a Canadian citizen
at least 18 or older (on election day)
be able to prove your identity and address
The easiest way to vote is to have your voter information card, which looks like this:
If you’re already registered to vote, it will come in the mail about 2 weeks before election day.
This card is super helpful. It will list your ‘assigned polling station’ and the dates and times that you can vote.
You can check if you’re already registered to vote by visiting the Elections Canada Website. (If you are, that means you should keep an eye out for one of these cards!)
If You Are Not Registered to Vote:
If you are NOT registered to vote, there are a few ways to do this.
Registering Before Election Day:
One, register BEFORE election day. (Believe me, choose this option. It will cause you (and the poll workers) so much less stress!)
Elections Canada has tried to make it as easy as possible for us to register. The same online portal that checks your voter registration, is able to sign you up to vote. So, if you’ve entered your information, and they find that you’re not registered, they’re going to automatically walk you through the process online.
Note that you’ll also need ID when you’re registering online, they might ask you for the ID number on your drivers license, or to submit a scan of 2 other accepted ID documents.
The deadline for registering online is the Tuesday before election day. This year, that’s October 15th at 6pm.
You can also register in person. You can go to any of the Elections Canada Offices before October 15th, or you can go to your assigned polling station during any of the advance polling days. Which this year are: October 11, 12, 13, and 14
When you register in person, you need to make sure to have the proper identification documents. If you have a government issued ID card with your photo, your name, and your address, then you can show that and nothing else. So for example your drivers license would fill that requirement, but your health card would not (at least in Ontario) because it doesn’t have your address on it.
If you don’t have a government issued ID card with a photo and address on it, you can use 2 of the things on the ‘Other documents’ list. Both of which must list your name, but one MUST have your address on it.
Now, on this list there are a crazy amount of things. You could use a bank statement and a student card, you could use a cheque and a library card, they’ll even accept labels on a prescription container! As long as one of the pieces has your current address on it, and both have your name on it, you’re good to go!
If You Miss the Registration Deadline:
Now, what happens if you don’t register at all, you’ve missed the deadlines or you happen to be reading this on election day and you’re thinking how the heck do am I supposed to do this?!
If You Know Your Assigned Polling Station:
If you know where your assigned polling station is, (say, you live with your parents or a roommate and they got their voting cards but you didn’t get yours) you can go directly there and register in person. (People that live at the same address as you will generally have the same assigned polling station)
If You Don’t Know Your Assigned Polling Station:
Registering on Election Day:
When you visit a polling station on election day without being registered, you still have to register before you vote. ie. you have to have those ID requirements with you, and you have to fill out some paperwork before you get to go in the ‘voter’ line. (They’ll usually direct you pretty well on this, so you’ll know where to go.)
Don’t feel embarrassed or ashamed to go out to vote even if you’re not registered. LOTS of people don’t register beforehand, and it’s your right to vote. Just be kind and courteous to the poll workers cause I’m sure it’s a busy day for them and they don’t need extra sass.
Special Voting Circumstances:
Voting as a Student:
If you’re a student, and you’re away at school but still have your parents address as your permanent address you can still vote! You need to decide which address you consider ‘home’. Voting in Canada is all based on location, that’s why assigned polling stations are so important because they need to make sure the ballots they offer you have the right candidates on them! (This actually works as well if for example you work for certain times of the year away from where your family lives and you sort of have ‘two’ residences that way as well. Just pick whatever one you feel is ‘home’).
From there, the process is the same, you either register to vote online (with the chosen ‘home’ address) or you register in person during the advance polling days, or election day. Remember, the ID that you use to register has to match the address of the home you’re registering for, so if your drivers license doesn’t have your school location on it, you can bring 2 of those ‘other’ documents. My first year in University, I registered on election day using my student card, and a bank statement. Remember to check out the full list of accepted ID’s below to make sure you have what you need!
Travelling within Canada on Election Day:
If you’re travelling within Canada on election day, you can either vote at your assigned polling station on one of the advance voting days (October 11, 12, 13, or 14), or you can visit any Elections Canada office. If you’re choosing to visit an Elections Canada office you will be voting with what’s called a ‘special ballot’.
These ‘special ballots’ need to be applied for, before the Tuesday before the election (apply for a special voting ballot online). Once you apply, you’ll get a ‘special ballot kit’. You’ll need to find out the names of the people running in your district, and fill out the paperwork they give you to ensure you’re properly identified. Once you’ve completed your package, you just give it right back to the Elections Canada Office.
You can also submit your ballot through the mail, which I’ll explain in just a second.
Travelling Outside of Canada on Election Day / Canadian Citizens Living Abroad:
If you’re travelling outside of Canada on election day, or are a Canadian citizen but living abroad, you’ll have to apply to vote through the mail. This must be done in advance, (again that Tuesday before election day deadline)
When you apply online, you’ll be filling out the form and submitting a photocopy of your ID and proof of address documents. EVEN IF YOU’RE ALREADY REGISTERED TO VOTE. So, if you already registered to vote but then figured out you’re travelling during the election period you have still have to do this in order to get the mail-in package.
Voting Without an ID / Voting Without a Permanent Address:
If you don’t have ID, or don’t have a permanent address you can still vote! You still have to prove your identity, which means you need something with your name on it like a library card, or a SIN card, or a fishing license and then you also need some ‘proof of residence’ which can be in the form of an official ‘letter of confirmation of residence’. If you’ve been going to a shelter or a drop-in centre, you can get the administrator of that organization to fill that out for you, or, if you have a friend that is registered at the same polling station as you are (again, I’ll link how to figure out where your polling station is down below) then they can attend with you and ‘vouch’ for your identity and address. The ‘voucher’ can only do this for one person, except in cases of long-term care facilities.
Voting with Accessibility Needs:
If you have any accessibility needs you can check with your assigned polling station to see if they fit your requirements. If they do not, Elections Canada will make sure you are provided with your accessibility aid. You can call your assigned polling station, or you contact Elections Canada directly by calling 1-800-463-6868 or 1-800-361-8935 (TTY). It’s important that you do this before that Tuesday deadline, so they are able to meet your needs!
If you are a Canadian citizen, you can vote. Temporary, or permanent residents cannot vote. The voting registration process is the same regardless of how long you’ve been a citizen, but if you need any accommodation at the polling station, like translation, or help filling out the ballot, you can bring a friend or a relative to help you on election day. They must swear an oath before they help you just to make sure they aren’t influencing your decision (that’s illegal!). You can also get a worker at the polling station to help you.
Working on Election Day:
If you work on election day, your employer is required to give you 3 consecutive (paid) hours off in order to go vote. If you have 3 consecutive hours of personal time during the polling station hours, then they aren’t required to give you additional time. So, if your shift starts at noon and you have the morning to go vote, then they aren’t required to give you the time. But if you work 2 jobs, or have a shift that happens over the entire polling period then they need to give you time.
I know, that’s a LOT of information we just covered; so please feel free to bookmark this page, and come back to reference it whenever you need to!
Let me know in the comments down below if you have any questions about voting, and make sure to share this post! Seriously, it’s super important to vote and I want to get as many people as we can out there and REGISTERING!