What to Expect When You're Electing
What to Expect When You're:Getting StartedGetting OrientedGetting InformedGetting into DiscussionsGetting InvolvedGetting to the PollsStaying Engaged

What to Expect When You're Electing

Welcome to What to Expect When You’re Electing. Delivered in a clear, concise, and non-partisan manner, this explainer series helps you navigate Canada's federal election by busting common myths, answering frequently asked questions, and supporting healthy political conversations. Look out for a new explainer every Tuesday!

Want to receive the latest explainer directly in your inbox? Subscribe to our weekly election newsletter.


Prefer to listen to the series instead? Check out our weekly podcast, hosted by the Samara Centre's Yvonne Su.


Are you ready to vote? If you're a Canadian citizen who will be at least 18 years old on October 21 then you are eligible to vote!

Expand to find out what you need to know to vote

On October 15, we'll release our Getting to the Polls explainer with detailed information on how and where to vote on October 21. But you can cast your ballot before Election Day, and in different ways!
Here's what you need to know to vote on or before Election Day, including important dates, ID requirements, and voting options:

1.  By mail (apply before October 15)

You need to apply for a special ballot. Although the deadline is October 15, it’s best to apply early. Click here for more details.

Note: you’ll need to apply to vote by mail if you’re living overseas and want to vote in the election.

2.  On select campuses (October 5-9)

Elections Canada is running special polling stations on some university and college campuses. At these stations, students and other electors can choose to vote in any riding - their campus riding or their home riding (if they recently moved). Check out this Elections Canada webpage for more information (the information may not be posted yet).

3.  At advance polls (October 11-14)

You can use Election Canada’s Voter Information Service to find the location of the advance polls for your constituency (it will be posted after September 24).

4.  At an Elections Canada office (until October 15)

The offices are open 7 days a week until October 15. Check out Election Canada’s Voter Information Service to find the location of the Elections Canada Office in your constituency.

5.  On Election day (October 21)  your last chance to vote!

You must go to your assigned polling station. Find out where it is by visiting Election Canada’s Voter Information Service

To prove your identity (who you are) and residence (where you live):

Show a piece of government photo ID with your address.

OR: Show two pieces of ID or documentation, with at least one showing your address. See the full list of accepted documents on Election Canada’s website.

OR: If you don’t have ID, you can still vote! You can “declare” your identity to the Elections Canada staff and have someone “vouch” that the information is correct. (They must know you, be assigned to the same polling station as you, and be able to prove their own identity and residence.)

You do not need to be registered in advance to vote!

As long as you have the required ID (or make a declaration and have someone vouch for you) you can be added to the register of voters when you go to vote. To check your registration, go to Elections Canada's website.

Check out our voting calendar below or download the PDF:

Voting Calendar

Getting Started


View web version
View print version

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1.    Learn about how Parliament works straight from the source

Apathy is Boring’s infographic on the different levels of government

CIVIX’s videos on parliamentary democracy and our electoral system

The Samara Centre’s primer on electoral reform

The Samara Centre’s video on a day in the life of an MP

The Library of Parliament highlights differences in the way Canadians and Americans govern themselves

The Samara Centre’s report on how federal election candidate are chosen

Learn About:



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1.    Party platform trackers (eg. MacLean's, CTV/Canadian Press) provide side-by-side platform comparisons

2.    Websites of the five major parties in Canada include the Bloc QuébécoisConservative Party of Canada, Green Party of Canada, Liberal Party of CanadaNew Democratic Party

Elections Canada lists all registered federal political parties

An overview of the strategy behind party platforms from CBC's Canada Votes Newsletter (June 2019)





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1.   Find out how your views compare to party platforms with Vote Compass

2.   For questions to ask candidates who come to your door, check out the Samara Centre’s Stronger Democracy Platform and Door Hanger

3.   Apathy is Boring’s #iSpeakElection Disinformation Campaign can help you evaluate the news

4.   Watch the National Leaders’ Debates: The English debate is on October 7 and the French debate is on October 10

For an example of local candidate debates, see
100 Debates on the Environment





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1.   The Samara Centre’s Field Guide to Online Political Conversations

2.   New York Times’ Angry Uncle chat bot

3.   '#IAmHere' a volunteer campaign to fight hate speech on Facebook

4.   Robb Willer’s Ted Talk on how to have better political conversations





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1.   Work for Elections Canada! A great way to witness democracy in action is to work at a polling station. Each election, Elections Canada hires thousands of people across the country.

2.   If you’re a young person, you can volunteer with get-out-the-vote organizations like Future Majority and Apathy Is Boring.

3.   Organize an all-candidates meeting in your community.

4.   Join an election campaign: Bloc Québecois, Conservative Party of Canada, Green Party of Canada, Liberal Party of Canada, New Democratic Party.




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1.   Elections Canada’s Voter Information Service provides information about your electoral district, including a list of local candidates, locations of polling stations, and a map of your electoral district.

2.   For a comprehensive list of acceptable voter ID, and other important information about ID, head over to the Elections Canada website.

3.   Still unsure about who to vote for? CBC’s Vote Compass and Future Majority’s Who to Vote For are easy-to-use tools that allow you to compare party platforms and find out how your views align on different issues.

4.   Need help getting to the polls? Try contacting a political party and asking if they can assist you with transportation: Bloc Québécois, Conservative Party of Canada, Green Party of Canada, Liberal Party of Canada, New Democratic Party, People’s Party of Canada.

Staying Engaged


Still have a question about Canada's federal election or democracy?
Send us an email at [email protected] and we'll do our best to answer it.




For media inquires, please contact José Ramón Martí at [email protected].