Voting changes for Canadian Armed Forces members

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With the coming into force of Bill C-76, known as the Elections Modernization Act, the way Canadian Armed Forces members vote in federal elections has changed, allowing them to vote like any other Canadian elector.

The voting methods now available to them include:

  • advance polls;
  • regular polls on civilian voting day;
  • voting at Elections Canada offices anywhere in Canada;
  • voting by mail from anywhere in Canada or in the world; and
  • voting at military polls established at their base or unit.

In the past, voting methods for Canadian Armed Forces members was more limited than those of the general Canadian voter. Under the old system, members of the Canadian Armed Forces were registered to vote based on their Statement of Ordinary Residence (SOR) and could only vote for a candidate in the riding that corresponded to the address on their SOR. The only way to update an SOR was to go to a base orderly room and have a clerk make the change. Furthermore, changing one’s address during an election period was not allowed.

For the first time, Canadian Armed Forces members can now register themselves on the web – or update their registration – using Elections Canada e-Registration service. Canadian Armed Forces members are encouraged to register or to update their registration as soon as possible, as an up-to-date registration will facilitate the voting process during the next federal election.

In addition to e-Registration, Canadian Armed Forces members will now benefit from all registration opportunities available to other Canadian electors, and will have the right to update their registration at any time, including at military polling stations.

When registering, Canadian Armed Forces members must provide their service number and the address of ordinary residence: this is the place they call home. At election time, members will then vote for a candidate running in the electoral district associated with that home address.

When a federal election is called, members of the Canadian Armed Forces living in Canada will receive Voter Information Cards providing information on the civilian polling locations where they can vote. To vote in a federal election, a Canadian Armed Forces member must be a Canadian citizen, and be 18 years of age or older on civilian election day. When voting at a civilian polling location, members will have to provide proof of ID and residence.

Members will also receive information from their chain of command on the availability and location of military polling stations. At a military polling location, members will have to provide proof of ID and of their service number.

Civilian personnel are not allowed to vote at special military polls. However, Canadian civilian electors who accompany a Canadian Armed Forces member outside of Canada will receive information on how to register on the International Register of Electors in order to vote by mail.

For more information on the changes that affect Canadian Armed Forces members, and to register or update your registration, visit elections.ca/forces.

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