This story came from an audience member, like you, who got in touch with us. Send us your federal election questions and story tips. We are listening: firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you’re worried about heading to the polls on election day and would rather mail in your ballot, you’re not alone. Elections Canada officials say they’re expecting between two and three million electors to vote by special ballot — most of them by mail — based on the agency’s latest data.
A number of CBC News readers asked us about mail-in voting. Here’s a quick guide on how to fill out your ballot in the comfort of your own home or while you’re travelling.
Getting your special ballot at home or abroad
The first step to avoiding the polls on election day is applying for that special ballot in advance. You’ll need one if you want to drop off your vote at a mailbox instead of a ballot box.
Once your special ballot application is accepted by Elections Canada, you will receive a voting kit. It should include two envelopes and instructions on exactly how to mark your ballot.
- Have an election question for CBC News? Email email@example.com. Your input helps inform our coverage.
If you are a Canadian living outside the country and are eligible to vote, you can be added to the International Register of Electors. This means you will automatically receive a voting kit from Elections Canada when a general election, by-election or referendum is called.
If your application is accepted, mail will be the only way you can cast your vote, whether you are at home or abroad. If you try to vote using a regular ballot on election day or at an advance poll, it won’t be counted.
Marking your ballot will look a little different
If you are voting by mail, it’s important to know that the ballot you are mailed will be slightly different from the ones you might be used to seeing at a polling station.
It won’t have a list of the Member of Parliament candidates in your riding.
Instead, there will be a blank space for you to write the first and last name of the candidate you’re voting for.
According to the Elections Canada website, you do not have to include the name of the political party on your ballot. But if you forget the candidate’s name and only write down the political party, your vote will not be counted.
If you don’t know the candidates for your riding, you can search by postal code or region using the Voter Information Service.
Use Vote Compass to compare the party platforms with your views.
Find out who’s ahead in the latest polls with our Poll Tracker.
Mailing it off
Once you’ve marked your ballot, you’ll need to place it in the unmarked inner envelope provided in your voting kit and seal it shut.
Next, take that envelope and seal it into the outer envelope (the one that shows your information).
After you’ve successfully stuffed the inner envelope into the outer envelope, you just have to sign and date the declaration on the front of that outer envelope.
Now, there’s just one more step.
If you haven’t guessed already, it does involve another envelope. In your voting kit, you should have also received a pre-addressed return envelope. Just place your signed outer envelope in the return envelope and go to your nearest mailbox to make your voice heard in the federal election.
If any of this sounds confusing, don’t worry. The voter kit includes detailed instructions to guide you through the process.
Just be sure to leave enough time for your vote to get to Elections Canada by 6 p.m. ET on Sept. 20 — or it won’t be counted.
If you’re worried it might be too late to mail your ballot, Elections Canada says those voting by mail from within their riding have the option to drop their completed special ballot off at their assigned polling station — or at any other polling location in their riding — on election day.
Do you have a question about the federal election? Send them to firstname.lastname@example.org or leave it in the comments. We’re answering as many as we can leading up to election day.