Response From Elections Canada Questions

Below is the response from July 5, 2019 email


Thank you for your correspondence dated July 5, 2019, in which you seek clarification on four distinct federal election topics. Please note that we cannot provide legal advice regarding specific factual situations. We can, however, provide guidance with respect to general principles of the Canada Elections Act (Act), which may be of assistance with your enquiries.

1. Voter Identification

In 2007, Parliament imposed, for the first-time, voter identification requirements for electors voting at the polls, giving them three options (see s. 143 of the Act):

  1. provide one piece of identification issued by a Canadian government or agency (federal, provincial, or local) that includes their name, address, and photo (e.g. driver’s licence);

  2. provide two pieces of identification from a list authorized by the Chief Electoral Officer of Canada (CEO), both of which must include the elector’s name and at least one of which includes their address; or

3. swear an oath or affirmation and be vouched for by another eligible elector with acceptable proof of identity and residence whose name appeared on the electoral list for that polling division and who had not previously either been vouched for or vouched for another elector in that election, prior to receiving a ballot.

In 2014, Bill C-23, An Act to amend the Canada Elections Act and other Acts and to make consequential amendments to certain Acts, replaced the vouching process (the third option above) with a new attestation process. Through attestation, an elector could provide two pieces of identification, each of which established the elector’s name, and have someone attest to their residence on oath in writing. The attestor’s name had to appear on the list of electors for the same polling division. The attestor had to know the elector personally, know that the elector resides in the polling division and be able to prove his or her own identity and residence without attestation. The attestor could not attest to the residence of another person. Both the elector and the attestor had to receive oral advice from the person who administered their oath of the penalty that may be imposed for contravention of the attestation rules.

Bill C-76, the Elections Modernization Act, which came into force on June 13, 2019, reinstated vouching as a way for an elector who has no identification to prove identity and address. The person being vouched for does not require a piece of identification, however the elector vouching for them does. The elector must solemnly declare in writing that he or she resides at the address at which he or she claims to reside, ii) is at least 18 years old or will be on polling day, iii) is a Canadian citizen and iv) has not previously voted in the election. Anyone vouching for the elector must sign a written solemn declaration providing that i) they know the elector; ii) the elector resides in the polling division; iii) to the best of their knowledge the elector has not previously voted at the election; iv) the voucher is a Canadian citizen when the other elector votes; v) the voucher has not vouched for the residence of another elector at the election (an exception applies in institutions where seniors or persons with a disability reside); vi) their own residence has not been vouched for by another elector at the election. Warnings must still be provided to both the voucher and the person being vouched for as to the potential penal consequences for making a false declaration, voting or attempting to vote at an election knowing they are not qualified, or committing a vouching offence, although these warnings can now be provided in writing, and do not have to be read out at the polls.

2. Vote by Canadian citizens residing outside Canada

On January 11, 2019, the Supreme Court of Canada ruled in Frank v. Canada (Attorney General) that a Canadian elector, living abroad, who has previously resided in Canada, is entitled to vote by special ballot in federal elections regardless of how long they have been living abroad (see ss. 220-230 of the Act).

Elections Canada maintains a register of electors who are residing outside Canada. Electors may register by sending Elections Canada an Application for Registration and Special Ballot form.
The elector’s completed application must be received by Elections Canada in Ottawa no later than 6:00 p.m., Eastern Time, on the Tuesday before polling day. The application may be sent by fax and be accompanied by a photocopy of proof of identity (a copy – of pages 2 and 3 – of a Canadian passport, a birth or baptismal certificate attesting that the elector was born in Canada, or a Canadian citizenship certificate or card).

Once the elector’s application is approved, Elections Canada sends a voting kit to the elector. The elector then completes the ballot and inserts it into a series of envelopes in accordance with the instructions provided and ensures that Elections Canada receives it no later than 6:00 p.m., Eastern Time, on polling day in order to be counted. On one of these envelopes, the elector signs a declaration that states that the elector’s name is as shown on the envelope, and that he or she has not already voted and will not attempt to vote again in the election.

3. Social Media

You ask if the government should be looking into social media influence. This is an issue best addressed by Parliament’s legislative branch. Elections Canada is a neutral agent of Parliament that operates independently of the government. We invite you to write to your local Member of Parliament for further information on this matter.

Please note that Parliament recently added new provisions to the Act that define online platforms and impose obligations on them with respect to digital ad registries. Elections Canada (EC) has recently issued an online guide entitled New Registry Requirements for Political Ads on Online Platforms to assist online platforms in complying with the new requirements. The Act also requires certain ads placed by parties, candidates and third parties to bear tag lines saying who placed the ad (s.320, 349.5, 352 and 429.3). This applies to social media ads.

Bill C-76 also clarified and expanded existing provisions against some kinds of online impersonation, misleading publications as well as false statements about candidates (see ss. 91, 480.1 and 481).

Elections Canada’s role is to ensure that Canadians have easy access to accurate information about the voting process, including where, when, and how to register and vote. We will be monitoring the social media environment to enable us to rapidly correct any inaccurate information about the voting process. We have created an online repository of all of our public communications, so that citizens and journalists can verify if information that appears to be coming from Elections Canada truly is.

4. Cash-for-Access

Bill C-50, An Act to amend the Canada Elections Act (political financing), came into force on December 21, 2018. This bill introduces notice and reporting requirements for certain regulated fundraising events. The bill does not prohibit cash-for-access types of fundraisers, but it makes certain types of fundraisers subject to the scrutiny of the public or the media.

First, the fundraising activity must be organized for the benefit of a party represented in the House of Commons, or one of its affiliated political entities. Second, the activity must be attended by a leader, a leadership contestant, or a cabinet minister. Third, it must be attended by at least one person who has contributed over $200, or who has paid an amount of more than $200 that includes a contribution to attend.

If the fundraising event meets these conditions, two types of disclosure are required. First, notice of the event must be prominently posted on a party’s website for five days before it takes place. Second, a report must be provided by the party to the Chief Electoral Officer within 30 days of the fundraiser. During a general election, notice of fundraisers would not be required, and a single report for all fundraising events held during the election would be due within 60 days after polling day.

For more on this topic, we invite you to view Elections Canada’s online Guideline on Regulated Fundraising Events.

I trust that the above information is of assistance and thank you for your interest in the federal electoral process.

For more information about the Canadian federal electoral system, visit our website at elections.ca or call 1-800-463-6868, toll-free in Canada and the United States. Our hours of operation are from Monday to Friday, 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. (Eastern Time).

Public Enquiries Unit
Elections Canada

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