How to vote, where to vote, and how to decide who to vote for.
The federal election takes place on Monday, October 19, and includes some new rules about voting requirements. To prepare you for this, Torontoist put together a guide for where to vote, how to prove eligibility, and how to choose which party’s policies might best suit your priorities.
Are you eligible to vote?
You are eligible to vote if you are a Canadian citizen over 18 years old with accepted proof of your identity and address.
You can check if you’re registered to vote by using Elections Canada’s Online Voter Registration Service. If you’ve yet to receive a voter card, it likely means you’re not yet registered to vote. Don’t panic—you can register online (the deadline is October 13 at 6:00 p.m.), by mail, or at your local Elections Canada Office.
How do you vote?
Once you’ve located the polling station for your riding (which can be found here), make your way over—the polls will be open for 12 hours on election day. If you’re on the voters list, all you need to vote is a document that shows your name and Toronto address (a pay stub, drivers license, piece of government-issued ID, or other options found here). You can also sign a Declaration of Identity at the polling station.
If you’re not on the voter list, you’ll need one accepted piece of ID that includes your name, photo, and current address (like a driver’s license or provincial ID card), or two pieces of identification, one of which must include your current address (any mail sent to your home, or your lease). If you do not have any ID with your current address, you can show two pieces of ID, and have someone who can prove their name, address, and who is voting at the same polling station attest to who you are. This person may only do so for one person.
It is important to note that your voter information card is not a valid form of ID.
Also worth noting: Due to riding redistribution, you may be voting in a different riding than 2011, even if you haven’t moved. This may affect who your incumbent MP is, the likelihood of different parties to win the local race, and the location of your polling station.
All polling stations should be accessible.
What if you’re unable to vote on October 19?
If you missed advanced voting and are unavailable on October 19, you can vote at your local elections office. Hurry—the deadline to do so is today at 6:00 p.m.
If you have difficulty getting to the polls for whatever reason, you can probably get a ride by contacting the local campaign you support. However, the campaign is not allowed to accompany you to the voting booth or show you who to vote for, so you may vote for whoever you like.
If you require assistance to vote, a friend, spouse, common law partner, or relative may help you do so. This person is required to keep who you voted for secret.
Your employer is also legally obligated to provide you with time off so that you have three consecutive hours with which to vote on Election Day. The employer has the right to choose when these hours take place.
Any person with the necessary identification who is in line by the time polls close has the right to vote.
How to choose who to vote for?
If you’ve got the time, you can (and should!) go through the different party platforms, and compare and contrast the positions of the different candidates in your riding. If you’re feeling overwhelmed by the process, there are some tools that can help you decide who to cast your ballot for come election day.
Vote Compass (created by CBC and data analysis firm Vox Pop Labs) surveys voters and asks them to answer a series of questions about their beliefs, values, stances on political issues, and feelings towards the different party leaders. After reviewing your responses, Vote Compass will tell you where you fit on the political landscape in relation to the views of the various parties.
Strategic Voting 2015
If you fall into the group of Canadians looking to vote strategically in the election in order to see a new government in power, Strategic Voting can help. The site breaks down the different ridings in the election and indicates who you should “please vote for,” in order to oust the Conservative government come October 19.
An earlier version of this article contained incorrect information about photo ID. Thanks to commenter MaryL for her helpful comment.