Vote PopUp

Vote PopUp


Vote PopUp has moved!

The initiative is now housed at the Faculty of Arts at Ryerson University under the new Democratic Engagement Exchange. Visit the Exchange website for the latest tools and resources.

A Kit for Community Groups to Demystify Voting

As British Columbians prepare for the provincial election scheduled for May 9th, Samara has partnered with Elections BC to support community organizations and civic leaders with an effective tool to conduct non-partisan voter engagement in their communities and reverse the decline in voter turnout.

Samara created the Vote PopUp toolkit (the user guide is available as a free download below) to foster interest in the election and demystify the voting process for first-time and infrequent voters. The Vote PopUp kit allows community groups to simulate the voting experience by recreating a voting station and fosters interest by providing an opportunity for participants to connect their concerns and interests with the electoral process.

Instead of being told what matters to them or why they should vote, participants are asked what matters to them and why voting is important them. Their responses can be showcased by local organizers and their voices amplified through social media and Samara’s regional network.

As an adaptable and easy-to-use tool, Vote PopUp can be used during an existing program, like an adult education class, or a large public event. It doesn’t require any external support and can be run at little or no cost.

For participants who have never voted, or rarely vote, Vote PopUp demystifies the process by:

  • confirming they are registered with up-to-date information;
  • informing them about acceptable forms of identification;
  • ensuring they know how, where and when to vote; and
  • allowing them to practice casting a ballot.

For all participants, it is an opportunity to have their voices heard.


Read the Vote PopUp Report

Learn more about how community groups ignited voter participation in the 42nd federal election in our Vote PopUp report:

Thanks to the overwhelming response of local organizers, in just over three months:

  • The toolkit was downloaded by 456 people in 76 towns and cities across all 10 provinces and 1 territory;
  • At least 330 community groups held a Vote PopUp, attended a training or accessed the kit.
  • 440 community organization staff, volunteers and students participated in 13 Samara-led training sessions in 5 cities from coast-to-coast;
  • #VotePopUp was used over 600 times to share stories and pictures on social media; and
  • Vote PopUp was mentioned by 21 different media outlets, spanning print, web, radio and television.

These accomplishments are featured in our report and brought to life by the words and photos of organizers and participants alike. The report also highlights the key elements that made the initiative so successful and popular among community groups.


Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Who can organize a Vote PopUp?

Vote PopUps can be organized by any non-partisan group or organization that is seeking to engage communities around the federal election.

If you would like to learn more about what "third parties" such as nonprofits can - and can't - do this election, check out this blog post we wrote on the topic.

What if I'm part of a partisan group or organization?

Vote PopUp is strictly a non-partisan activity and is not intended to be used by any individual or group affiliated with a partisan organization or campaign, including political parties or candidates.

Who can participate in a Vote PopUp?

One of the best things about Vote PopUp is that anyone can participate, not only eligible voters! Everyone should be invited to take part in the activity, regardless of age, citizenship status or political involvement. The advantage of Vote PopUp is that it allows anyone to experience the voting process and to feel more engaged in their community.

When should I hold a Vote PopUp?

A Vote PopUp can be held at any time! If possible, it should be held far enough in advance of election day to allow participants time to prepare for voting, such as securing pieces of ID or proof of address and arranging transportation to the polling place.

If a Vote PopUp is held after advance polling has begun, make sure that participants understand it is a voting simulation and they are not voting in the actual election.

Does it cost anything to organize a Vote PopUp?

Most of the materials you’ll need to run a Vote PopUp are free or easily obtained. The ballot box and voting screens can be ordered free of charge from Elections Canada and the educational materials can be downloaded for free. You likely already have access to basic supplies like tables, chairs, pens and paper. There may be costs for printing materials and providing food, refreshments or other incentives. Consider seeking event sponsors or donations to cover these costs – or think creatively about how to get (or make) them for free!

How many people do I need to run a Vote PopUp?

The number of people needed to run a Vote PopUp will depend on the location and duration of the activity. When held as part of an existing program, a polling station can be run by 3 to 4 people. At a public event, each polling station should be staffed by at least 5 people and, depending on the scale and length of the event, more people will be helpful.

How can I publicize my Vote PopUp?

Highlight your event and celebrate voting by posting text, images and video of your Vote PopUp on social media. Connect with a national audience and the Vote PopUp movement by using #VotePopUp#fe42 and #elxn42. Encourage participants to share their own stories and experiences through their social media networks. Bring attention to your work by tweeting @SamaraCDA and @ElectionsCan_E.

You can also invite local media to report on your Vote PopUp as part of their ongoing election coverage. Samara has created a Vote PopUp press kit that includes a sample press release and key messaging. To request a copy, contact José at [email protected].

What if I am missing some of the items on the checklist?

Not to worry! If you’re unable to obtain any of the items on the checklist then use your own initiative and creativity to make the activity work. The most essential items are the ballots, ballot box and voting screens – and even these can be improvised if necessary.

Why is it important for Vote PopUp to remain non-partisan?

While participants are encouraged to have and express their political opinions, the purpose of Vote PopUp isn’t to endorse or identify with a specific political party or candidate. Vote PopUp is designed to enable everyone in your community to learn about and experience the voting process. By remaining non-partisan, everyone will feel welcomed to participate and you can avoid alienating or distracting people from the voting process. Using real-life political parties or candidates may also create the false impression that Vote PopUp is in fact an official election. To be sure, remaining non-partisan does not prevent communities from using Vote PopUp to vote on important political issues, like jobs, the environment or education.

What if I don’t have a computer or Internet access?

Although Internet access is recommended, it isn’t required. If you’re unable to connect to the Internet during the activity, direct participants to the Elections Canada website to check their registration and voter information. Give them an “Am I registered to vote?” handout with the Elections Canada website and phone number. This information can also be found on all Elections Canada materials.

What if participants prefer not to enter their personal information on our computer?

No problem! Encourage participants to access the Elections Canada website from a trusted computer or hand-held device. If they prefer, you can help them navigate the website from their smartphone. Give them materials with the Elections Canada website and phone number such as the “Am I registered to vote?” handout. They can also send questions to Elections Canada at [email protected]

What if participants have a problem checking their registration or polling location?

If participants are unable to navigate through the Online Voter Registration Service or the Voter Information Service due to a technical error or missing information, ask them to call Elections Canada at 1-800-463-6868.

Does the kit come in any other languages?

The kit is available in English and French.

All Elections Canada materials (including voter guides, infographics, and flyers) are available in multiple languages and formats. Contact Elections Canada to request materials in other languages.

How do I fill-in the choices on the sample ballots?

It is recommended that you print out the sample ballots page, write down the choices with a marker and then photocopy it as many times as you need. Remember to make an additional 10% for spoiled ballots.

Why doesn’t the Voter Information Service contain information about polling stations?

Polling locations and hours will not be made public until September 23rd, 2015 or shortly thereafter. You can use the Voter Information Service to look up federal ridings, candidates and local Elections Canada offices prior to that time.

What if participants are homeless or do not have a fixed address?

They can still vote using a letter of confirmation of residence to prove their address. This letter can be obtained from the administrator of a shelter or soup kitchen, First Nations band or reserve, an Inuit local authority, a student residence, seniors' residence or long-term care facility. It can also be found at

If they (1) stay in a shelter or receive services from a shelter or soup kitchen, (2) live on a First Nations reserve or in an Inuit hamlet, (3) live in a seniors' residence or long-term care facility or (4) are a student living on campus, they can print the letter of confirmation of residence form and ask the administrator to complete it and sign it.

A letter from the administrator that is printed on the letterhead of the establishment is also accepted.

When they go vote, they must bring the letter and a second piece of ID with their name.

For answers to questions about registration, voting, ID to vote, employment, time off to vote or other questions, go to and explore the FAQ section.

Training and Support

Although the kit was designed as a do-it-yourself tool, Samara offered training and support for community organization staff and volunteers interested in learning tips and tricks for implementing and practicing the activity before taking it to the field.

Training sessions were held in Toronto, Vancouver, Ottawa, Calgary and Halifax.

Please email John Beebe at [email protected] if you have any questions about the Vote PopUp initiative.

Our Partners

Vote PopUp is generously funded in part by:

Elections_Canada_Logo.svg               Laidlaw_Logo 

Inspirit_logo_H_CMYK_300dpi_CROPPED               Patagonia.svg

Thanks to your confidence and support, more Canadians are informed about when, where and ways to register and vote so they can exercise their right to vote and have a voice in their democracy.

Vote PopUp in the News

"'Speak up. Show up.' campaign aims to boost voter turnout in Dartmouth North" in CBC News, August 26, 2016

“A vote for the future” in Imagine A City, October 15, 2015

“Honing the fine art of voting” in Sarnia This Week, October 13, 2015

“A guide for first-time voters” in New Canadian Media, October 13, 2015

“Many students confused about Fair Elections Act voter ID requirements” in The Voice, October 8, 2015

“Vote PopUp: Getting the vote out among non-voters” in iPolitics, October 7, 2015


“Voting troubles abound” in Kings County News, October 6, 2015

“Election 2015: who says young people won't vote? Democracy Week, civic engagement events aim to empower students” in U of T News, October 5, 2015

“One group’s effort to pop (up) the vote” in National Post, October 3, 2015

“Want to engage non-voters? Don’t bully them, says civic action groups” in CBC News, October 2, 2015

“Program encourages voting, democracy” in Sarnia Observer, October 2, 2015

“New ID requirements for voters on Oct. 19” in Prince George Citizen, October 1, 2015

Your vote counts: Public libraries encouraging citizens to get out and vote” in South Shore Breaker, September 30, 2015 

“Courting the "Ethnic Vote"” in New Canadian Media, September 24, 2015

“Students at University of Regina encouraged to vote” in CBC News, September 23, 2015

“Mock election used to encourage homeless Calgarians to vote” in Calgary Herald, September 21, 2015

“Learn How to Vote at Your Local Library” in Queens County Community Radio, September 11, 2015

“Table holds mock election as part of voter education drive” in Perth Courier, August 18, 2015