Apr 26 2011

General election on May 2, 2011With all this recent talk about the “ethnic vote,” you may have started to wonder if the voter eligibility has changed in Canada!

So, with less than a week to go let’s review voter eligibility, the voting process and what you need to do to cast an informed vote.

Election Day is Monday, May 2, 2011.

Voting hours:

  • Newfoundland/Atlantic Time/Central Time: 8:30am-8:30pm
  • Eastern Time: 9:30am-9:30pm
  • Saskatchewan/Mountain Time: 7:30am-7:30pm
  • Pacific Time: 7:00am-7:00pm

Who can vote?

You may vote in this federal election if you are:

  • a Canadian citizen (temporary and permanent residents cannot vote);
  • 18 years old or older on election day;
  • a resident in the electoral district (you must be able to prove your identity and address).

Learn more about how to register and how to vote.

Can I vote?

Ideally, you should have received a “voter information card” in the mail. This means that you are registered to vote and Elections Canada has your current address. If your name and address are stated correctly, you are registered to vote at the polling place indicated on your card.

Voter Registration Card examples
If you did not get a voter information card, or if your card is incorrect, you can still register to vote.

To register to vote, you can call Elections Canada at 1-800-463-6868, or simply go to your election day polling place on Monday, May 2.

If you go to vote on May 2, you’ll be asked to:

  • fill out a form
  • certify that you are a Canadian citizen who will be 18 or older on election day, Monday, May 2, and
  • prove your identity and address
    • proof of identity and address accepted at Elections Canada offices
    • proof of identity and address accepted at the polls

Find out more about voter registration or call Elections Canada at 1-800-463-6868

Where to vote if you’re not sure

Call Elections Canada, or visit the Voter Information Service on their site, enter your postal code (or select from the other options), and you’ll find the information you need. Look for the link “Where do I vote?” on the page for the information you need.

Candidate and party info

Once you search for your riding on the Voter Information Service section of Elections Canada site, click on the “Candidates” link in the main site navigation. There isn’t much information there other than the candidates who you can vote for. But, it’s still useful to see them all listed in one place.

You’ll probably want to make sure you know more about the party platforms and policies, so that you cast an informed vote. So, you will want to visit each party’s website to find additional information (they all have a candidate search section).

We’ve made it easy for you with links to all party sites and platforms on our Maytree’s election insights post.

What you need to bring in order to vote

To vote, you must prove your identity and address. You have three options:

  • Option 1: Show one original piece of identification with your photo, name and address. It must be issued by a government agency.
  • Option 2: Show two original pieces of authorized identification. Both pieces must have your name and one must also have your address.
  • Option 3: Take an oath and have an elector who knows you vouch for you (both of you will be required to make a sworn statement). This person must have authorized identification and their name must appear on the list of electors in the same polling division as you. This person can only vouch for one person and the person who is vouched for cannot vouch for another elector. Examples: a neighbour, your roommate.

Elections Canada has Information for Voters from Ethnocultural Communities, in 27 languages  and Information for Aboriginal Voters in 11 languages.

Do I need to show my face?

From Elections Canada:

Electors wearing face coverings

If an elector wearing a face covering presents himself or herself at the polling station, the deputy returning officer will invite the elector to show his or her face. If the elector agrees to remove his or her face covering, the poll official will follow regular voting procedures. Election officials have been instructed to exercise respect and sensitivity in following this administrative procedure.

If the elector does not wish to remove his or her face covering, the deputy returning officer will advise the elector that he or she must provide two pieces of authorized identification, both with the elector’s name and one with the elector’s address, and then swear an oath attesting to his or her eligibility to vote. If the elector agrees to provide the identification and swear the oath, the poll official will follow regular voting procedures.

If the elector refuses to uncover his or her face and also refuses to provide two pieces of identification and take the oath, or to be vouched for, he or she will not be permitted to vote.

First time voting?

Fantastic! Welcome to the election! If you haven’t voted in Canada before, find out what your ballot will look like and the actual mechanics of voting on the Settlement.Org site.

Useful websites and info


Marco Campana is a communications expert living in Toronto and Maytree's former content manager.

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