How to vote today in Canada's federal election

Sep 20 2021, 8:52 am

Monday is Election Day in Canada. Millions of citizens will head to the polls to choose a government for the next few years.

Party leaders have finished campaigning, and all that’s left to do is visit a voting station, mark the ballot, and watch as results are announced in the coming days.

Some people have already voted by mail or in advance polls, but now the only option left is to cast a vote in person. Here’s what you need to know:

Where do I go to vote?

Every voter is assigned a polling station by Elections Canada, and that’s where people need to go on Election Day to cast their ballot. This is different than some provincial elections where people can vote at any polling station.

To find out where your polling station is, check the voter information card that should have come in the mail, enter your address on Elections Canada’s website, or phone them at 1-800-463-6868.

What are the polling station hours?

Polling stations are open for 12 hours in each province to give everyone time to cast a ballot while helping results coming around the same time.

Here’s the breakdown by time zone:

  • Newfoundland: 8:30 am to 8:30 pm
  • Atlantic: 8:30 am to 8:30 pm
  • Eastern: 9:30 am to 9:30 pm
  • Central (except Saskatchewan): 8:30 am to 8:30 pm
  • Mountain and Saskatchewan: 7:30 am to 7:30 pm
  • Pacific: 7 am to 7 pm

According to Elections Canada, peak times are generally in the morning when polls open and around dinnertime in the evening. Those looking to avoid lines may consider voting midday.

Employers are required to give staff time off from work to go vote if they need it. Everyone is entitled to three consecutive hours to cast their ballot, but not three hours off from work.

For example, someone in BC scheduled to work from 9 am to 5 pm could request to start work at 10 am or to leave work at 4 pm to have three hours to vote.

What should I bring?

Voters must prove their name and identity and should bring a photo ID along with proof of address. Bringing the voter card can make the process quicker.

Individuals must also be registered to cast a ballot. Unregistered voters can enter their information online or register in person at their voting place.

What COVID-19 protocols are in place?

Elections Canada asks voters to wear masks when they vote, even in a province where indoor mask rules are not in place.

Voters can enter the polling station regardless of vaccination status.

People who are sick with COVID-19 should follow health authority advice and continue isolating at home.

When will we know the election results?

Elections Canada will release preliminary results on its website. However, counting may not finish until September 22 due to the high number of mail-in ballots submitted during the pandemic.

Megan DevlinMegan Devlin

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