Democracy is government by the people.
But young Canadians are more likely to take a pass on voting compared to older folks. For decades, our turnout rates have been dropping meaning we're letting others make decisions for us. They probably have different concerns than us and because they vote all the time, they more often than not get what they want.
What do you want? What do you care about? What would make your community, province, or country great in your eyes?
We know you think about it. We know you care. We’re here to help you make it to the polls.
|How do I vote?||
Canada uses a system called “first past the post” in its general elections. That means we vote for one candidate in the electoral district (AKA riding) we live in and the person who gets the most votes wins. They DO NOT need to get a majority (more than half) of the votes.
That also means we DO NOT vote directly for the Prime Minister or the Premier of our province. We do vote directly for our mayors at the city/town level though, which is super important too.
Here’s a handy video to explain everything:
When am I allowed to vote?
To be eligible to vote, you must:
a) Be a Canadian citizen
Where do I sign up?
If you've voted in the past, you're most likely already registered. You also might have been added by ticking a box when you (or your parents) filed your taxes. For first timers or people who have moved, you'll definitely want to register or update your info ASAP.
In every province and territory except Quebec, you can also register on election day at your polling station.
One more thing... being registered in your province doesn't automatically set you up for the federal election (except for folks in Nova Scotia). Register or update your current address at Elections Canada.
Why should I register?
Registering puts you ahead of the game. If an election is called and you’re already registered, you’ll be sent a card with everything you need to know to vote like dates, times and locations. You still need to research the candidates and party platforms though.
In many cases, you can even just bring that card to the polling station and you’ll be on the fastlane to the voting booth.
Do I need to show ID to vote?
|Yes. You need to prove who you are and that you live in that riding when you go to vote. The best and simplest one to bring is your driver’s license or provincial ID. But if you don’t have those, there’s a list of what qualifies as appropriate ID. Seriously it’s long… pretty much any government card works. Then there are non-government pieces of ID like a phone bill.
If you don’t have ID, you can have someone you know or live with confirm you are who you are. This is called "vouching."
|When do I actually vote?||
It’s different everywhere but almost every province and territory (sorry Nova Scotia and Yukon) have a fixed election date law so you can kind of predict when the next election will be. Usually it’s four years after the previous election on a particular day in a particular month.
For example, federal elections come on the THIRD Monday in October, FOUR years after the last election. Of course, the Prime Minister and the Premiers of each province can also ignore the laws and call elections whenever they want. One rule they definitely can’t break is the five year limit that’s set in the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
Minority governments can mess all that up. Because the party in power doesn’t have more than half the seats (in other words, more than half the votes to pass laws), they could easily lose a non-confidence vote AT ANY TIME. Without confidence, the government will have to try winning it back in an election.
Everyone cares about something political whether you realize it or not: the bus never coming on time, the safety of the food we eat, the money we get to support ourselves if we can’t work, the list goes on. Some folks try to do whatever they can to shape the community they live in. We call them Shakers, Makers, and Uptakers.
Shakers without Makers is frustrations without ways forward. Makers without Uptakers is ideas without long term impact. And Uptakers without citizen engagement is a broken democracy. We need all three. Elections are when you decide which potential Uptaker will help you solve the issues your community faces.
Democracy is more than just voting. If you're not 18 yet or there isn't an election going on, there are plenty of ways you can still be a changemaker.
- Attend city council meetings.
- Check out local public consultations.
- Keep in touch with your MP, MLA, or city councillor.
- Join a political party to shape its policy platform and even vote for the leader!
- Run for your student council or union.
- Participate in a protest.
- Sign a petition.
- Volunteer for an organization.
- Keep an eye on #cdnpoli news by checking out THE FEED - our biweekly newsletter.
Our volunteers were all-stars in 2019. Thanks to them, we met thousands of youth at more than 50 events across Canada. We do this because we know young people are more likely to vote if we invite them and arm them with the info they need to make it to the polls.