By Annalies Smith
Is this the first election you’re going to be voting in? Are you overwhelmed? You’re not alone! Here’s a handy guide to exercising your rights as a Canadian citizen.
How do I register to vote?
1. Make sure you are a Canadian citizen of at least 18 years of age.
2. Go on the Elections Canada website page titled “Voter Registration” and click “Check Your Voter Registration”.
3. Fill in and submit the required information.
4. Make sure you get a confirmation message on the last page saying that you are registered to vote.
5. You’re done! Welcome to adulthood!
Be sure to do this prior to October 15th at six in the evening. It’s easy, and only takes two minutes! If you’ve voted before but changed address, or would like to make sure that you are still registered, you can do so at the same page.
Let your voice be heard, first-time voters! Remember, every vote counts.
Who am I voting for?
Although many major advertisements promote the party leaders, they aren’t the people you’re directly voting for. You are actually voting for a Member of Parliament representing each party in your riding. You can find information about which riding you’re in, where your polling station is, who the candidates running are, and more, on the Elections Canada website under “Voter Information Service”. Although Justin Trudeau’s name won’t be on your ballot, the Prime Minister will be chosen based on which party has the most MPs in the House of Commons, so don’t underestimate the power of your vote!
How do I vote?
There are four different ways to vote, and depending on the method that you choose, you can vote anytime between when the election was called, September 11th, up until (and including) the day of the election, October 21st. The four ways to cast your ballot include:
1. Vote on advance polling days. You can vote Friday, Saturday, or Sunday before October 21st from nine am to nine pm at your designated polling station. This is a good option if you don’t think you’ll be able to make it to your polling station on election day.
2. Vote at any Elections Canada office. Elections Canada offices are open across Canada, and you can vote at any one of them before the Tuesday preceding October 21st at six pm. You can find more information about how this works on the Elections Canada website under “Voting by Special Ballot”. This is a good voting method if you are going to be outside of your riding or home province for an extended period of time around the election.
3. Vote by mail. On the Elections Canada website under “Apply to Vote by Mail” you can apply after the election is called to receive a special voting kit. You can apply up until the Tuesday before the election at six pm, and you can send in your ballot anytime before October 21st. This is the easiest voting method if you live abroad.
4. Vote on Election Day. This is the most popular voting method. You can vote at your polling station (which you can find on the Elections Canada website under “Voter Information Service”) on election day from nine-thirty am to nine-thirty pm.
What do I do on Election Day?
If you choose to cast your ballot on election day, there are only a few steps you need to follow.
1. Register to vote. You can do this on election day at your polling station, or you can follow the aforementioned guide. Doing this prior to Election Day is recommended, as issues can arise when it comes to same-day registration.
2. Find your polling station, and go to it some time between nine-thirty am and nine-thirty pm on October 21st. You can find your polling station on the Elections Canada website under “Voter Information Service”. If you register to vote in advance, you should also receive a voter card by mail, which will have your polling station identified. You must cast your ballot at this station if you are voting on election day.
3. Provide ID and proof of address. You can provide these in three different ways. First, by providing a piece of ID issued by the Canadian government with your photo, name, and current address (eg: driver’s licence). Second, by showing two pieces of ID, both of which must have your name, and at least one must have your current address (eg: voter information card). On the Elections Canada website under “ID to Vote”a list of acceptable IDs is provided. Finally, by having someone you know (with identification) vouch for your identity at your polling station. This is not a recommended method to prove your identity, but can be used if you do not have any other forms of identification.
Let your voice be heard, first-time voters! Remember, every vote counts. This guide and the Elections Canada website are your friends. Don’t hesitate to exercise your rights!