A Canadian citizen who is 18 years of age or older by Election Day can vote after he or she has registered with Elections Canada. Elections Canada will then add him or her to the voters’ list.

On Election Day, most voters go to a nearby location called a polling station, where their names are checked off the voters’ list. If they have not yet registered, they can do so at this time. At the polling station, each voter is given a ballot (a piece of paper listing all the candidates in the riding). Voters do not have to tell anyone who they are voting for — it is a secret ballot.

Voters make an X beside the name of the candidate they prefer. Then they fold up the ballot and place it into a ballot box.

If they incorrectly mark a ballot, or mark more than one name, that is called a spoiled ballot and it will not be counted.

Citizens can vote even if they are away from home on Election Day. Elections Canada has information on how to vote in advance, either in person or by mail. Some university campuses, youth centres and Friendship Centres even host special advance polling stations.

Once voting ends, the votes are collected and added up. This can take a long time. Television stations and websites have special features reporting the election results. Some races are very close and are decided by a small number of votes.

The minimum age to run in an election is 18 years old. The youngest person ever elected to Parliament was Pierre-Luc Dusseault, who was 19 years old when he was elected in 2011.


How do you think elections work in other countries? Try asking to see if your friends or family know. Here are some questions you might want to ask:

  • Who is allowed to vote?
  • How often are elections held?
  • Where do people vote?
  • Is the ballot secret?
  • How do people find out who wins?


Elections Canada

1 Elections Canada logo

2 polling station number

3 slot for completed ballot


27 Elections Canada

1 candidate’s name (ordered alphabetically)

2 political party of the candidate

3 circle where the voter writes “X” to choose