how to vote in canada

This is how you can vote in Ontario for the 2021 federal election in Canada

How to vote in the 2021 federal election in Canada is on the minds of millions now that a snap election has been called.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau made the official request on Sunday morning to dissolve parliament, which was approved by Mary Simon, our new Governor General who was just sworn in late last month.

The vote is now slated take place on Sept. 20, 2021 — giving candidates the minimum legal length of campaigning time for a general election.

Though citizens 18 and over will not get a full statutory holiday to vote, employers are required to grant them at least three consecutive hours to hit the polls, which Ottawa has said they will be able to do in-person at their assigned polling station on select advance dates or on election day itself, or by mail if they apply to do so.

Registering to vote

Before voting, residents must ensure they are registered — which they can do online, by phone or at any Elections Canada office in advance, or at their assigned polling station day-of — and be able to prove their identity and address.

Acceptable forms of ID include any single card with your photo, name and current address that is issued by any level of government in Canada; or any two forms of documentation — which can include a voter card, bank statement or utility bill — with your full name, one of which must also have your current address.

Voting is also possible without any identification so long as you declare your name and address in writing and bring along a person with proper ID who can vouch for you being the person you say you are.

Voting by mail

As mentioned, residents interested in voting by mail must apply to do so online on the Elections Canada website.

This form of voting is done by special ballot, which will be mailed to your home address in a kit if you are approved. It is slightly different from normal ballots in that instead of a list of candidates to choose from, it will just have a blank space in which you write who you are voting for in your riding.

Anyone planning to vote in this way is asked to apply ASAP, and must do so by 6 p.m. on Sept. 14. The ballot itself must be returned to Elections Canada by the time polls close in your riding on election day if you are voting from inside that riding, or by 6 p.m. on Sept. 20 if you are voting from abroad. It is the voter's responsibility to account for mail time.

Ballots can be dropped of at any Elections Canada office in person, or mailed in the pre-addressed return envelope provided.

Further details and instructions are included in the voting kit. Once one applies to vote by this method and is approved, they cannot change their mind and vote another way. It is possible to check that your ballot has indeed been received by calling 1-800-463-6868.

Voting in advance

Advance voting will take place between 9 a.m. and 9 p.m. from Friday, Sept. 10 to Monday, Sept. 13.

The exact locations of your advance polling station will appear on the voter information card you'll receive in the mail, and will also be available online in the weeks to come. You can also call Elections Canada for to find out where there are stations based on your riding and address.

Voting on election day

Simply turn up at the location indicated on your voter information card between opening hours — stations will be open for 12 hours on Sept. 20 — with your card and the requisite identification to vote in-person.

Locations will also, like for advance polls, be listed online closer to election day, or can be found by calling Elections Canada.

Voting at an Elections Canada office

Voting is also possible at any Elections Canada office in the country. These locations are currently being set up in the wake of the recent announcement.

You can vote in this manner by special ballot until the sixth day before election day, and will be asked to fill out an Application for Registration and Special Ballot foorm to do so. Once completed, you can vote on the spot in-person or at the office at a later date, so long as it is no later than the sixth day before election day.

Voting during a pandemic

This year's process will, of course, look quite different from previous elections due to the pandemic, and will include things like hand sanitizer stations, physical distancing markers, single-use pencils and plexiglass barriers at polling locations.

All voters are reminded to wear a mask and practice social distancing of at least two metres from others. Also, that the collection of a valid phone number for each person will be conducted for contact tracing purposes.

Anyone who has symptoms of COVID-19 at the time of the vote, has tested positive, has been in contact with someone with the virus and/or is immunocompromised is being asked to vote by mail before the deadline specified in the kit they receive upon application.

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