09/25/2019 15:57 EDT | Updated 10/11/2019 11:26 EDT

How To Vote In The Federal Election (And Other Things To Know About Oct. 21)

You’ve got questions, we’ve got answers.

If you’re confused about voting in Canada’s federal election, we’ve got your back.

Official voting day is Oct. 21. If that doesn’t work, you can vote in advance at polling stations Oct. 11 to 14. Still struggling? Go to any Elections Canada office up to Oct. 15 to cast a special ballot. You can also mail in your vote from abroad.

The party leaders are (in non-partisan alphabetical order), Maxime Bernier for the People’s Party of Canada, Yves-Francois Blanchet for the Bloc Québécois, Elizabeth May for the Greens, Andrew Scheer for the Conservatives, Jagmeet Singh for the NDP and Justin Trudeau for the Liberals. 

Green Party Leader Elizabeth May, left, Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer, centre, and NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh shake hands after a debate in Toronto, Sept. 12, 2019.

You vote for the local MP candidate you want to represent your riding (aka seat) in the House of Commons.

The party that wins the most seats wins the right to form government. If they have a majority of the seats, they are good to go. If they don’t, they need to make strategic deals with one or more other parties to keep their minority government alive. 

If you have more questions (who doesn’t?), check out these non-partisan websites: 

Elections Canada

This is the place where voters can plug in their postal code to learn what riding they’re in, the closest Elections Canada office and polling station, and the candidates competing for their vote.

Voters can check if they’re registered to vote, and sign up or update their information. They can also register when they cast their ballot. 

 Watch: 5 things to know about Yves-Francois Blanchet. Story continues below.


To vote, all they need to show is their driver’s licence, or another government-issued photo ID with their name and current address. Alternatively, voters can present two other documents that show identification and proof of address, such as a utility bill and student ID card.

For those with no identification, they need to provide their name and home address in writing, and have someone they know vouch for them at the polling station.

Future Majority

The new Future Majority site, GoVoteCanda.ca, was “built for young people by young people,” said Tyler Valiquette, co-founder and field director. “There’s nothing else like this in the election.”

The educational page from the organization that promotes voter turnout among young Canadians is designed for desktop and mobile, so voters can use it in between classes, at work, and on their way to the polls. 

Lucas Oleniuk/Getty Images
A mother goes to the polls with her two sons in Toronto, Oct. 19, 2015.

One tool shows how many Canadians ages 18 to 34 are eligible to vote in each riding, and how their vote could help determine which party will win. A map predicts what way each riding will swing, so post-secondary students who live on their own can decide if they want to vote in their parents’ riding or their school’s riding to make their ballot count. 

A quiz helps them figure out which party best represents their beliefs. It focuses on eight issues Future Majority has identified as being most important to Millennials and Gen Z — climate change, healthcare, cost of living, electoral reform, immigration and refugees, Indigenous rights, mental health resources and LGBTQ rights. 

 Apathy is Boring

This national organization has dedicated itself to getting young Canadians engaged in elections since 2004, through on-the-ground and online get-out-the-vote initiatives.

“Young Canadians care about issues that affect them, their families and communities. The problem has been they talk and engage in informal spaces (on social media, for example) but not formal, like showing up on election day,” said Apathy is Boring executive director Caro Loutfi.

“Ultimately, we’re trying to increase youth voter turnout. We believe young Canadians should be part of decision making processes in terms of who our leaders are who govern our country.” 

Apathy is Boring has launched an educational campaign with short, catchy videos about how the election works, as well as a “democracy dictionary.” It’s also focusing on disinformation and social media with tips on how to “spot the real and shake the fake.”

Thousands of protesters flooded the streets of Montreal during the march for climate, March 15, 2019.

To prepare voters for day-to-day civic engagement, it has launched a twice-a-month newsletter called The Feed wrapping up Canadian policy and culture and described as “everything that would impress a Tinder date.” 

Vote Compass

Hosted by CBC News, Vote Compass is a classic civic engagement tool designed by political scientists at Vox Pop Labs to help Canadians of all ages understand the parties. 

Voters answer 30 questions with topics ranging from the carbon tax, corporate tax rates and the federal budget deficit to the energy sector, military spending and Quebec’s independence. They also weigh the trustworthiness and competency of each leader. Based on this feedback, voters see how well their views match up with each party’s stance.