There’s a big problem with Elections Canada’s “register to vote” message

 Elections Canada's advertisement on a subway in Toronto

Elections Canada's advertisement on a subway in Toronto

TORONTO, ON (October 8, 2015) - Be the Vote and Vote Savvy are raising concern over Elections Canada’s unwillingness to be clear about the fact that voters can register at the polls in the 2015 federal election.

After six weeks of heavy advertising to "register to vote", Elections Canada has failed to mention on social media, television, or radio, that registering or updating registration, can be done at the polls.

Furthermore, over 84% of the voter’s list was completed before the election, meaning the large majority of Canadians are already set up to vote, and did not need to go online or call Elections Canada to register.

Be the Vote and Vote Savvy are concerned that unless Elections Canada takes immediate action to correct their messaging, people will be deterred from voting. Currently Elections Canada plans to change their communications on October 13 to tell people they can register at the polls, but this will be too late.

“When you bombard the airwaves for almost two months telling people to register, people are going to think they need to go through a ‘registration process’ before-hand”, says Elizabeth Dubois, Executive Director of Vote Savvy. “For new voters, this makes the voting process seem overly complicated. It is also a huge inconvenience for people going through these unnecessary steps”.

Currently there is scarce mention of the ability for voters to register or update registration at the polls on the Elections Canada website. The Voter Information Cards (VICs) sent in the mail did not contain this information either.

“The Fair Elections Act does not allow Elections Canada to encourage voting, but it does allow them to get all the facts across about how to vote”, say Kennedy. “Their mandate isn’t being met, and public interest is at stake, when this sort of information is not made apparent.”

Be the Vote and Vote Savvy are urging Elections Canada to put significant resources behind advertising a clear message that everyone can vote,  that registration can take place at the polls, and that people do not need VICs because they can find their poll location online or by calling Elections Canada. This applies to advanced polls as well which are open October 9-12.

Here are the facts:

  1. Voters must technically be registered/added to the voter’s list, but this can be done at the polls. You can update VIC information at the poll.

  2. You can find your poll location online by entering your postal code.  You do not need a VIC to vote.

  3. Make sure you have valid ID: (this easy to remember url redirects to the Elections Canada ID page). Your VIC is not a valid piece of ID.


For more information, please contact:

Grace Kennedy
Executive Director, Be the Vote

Elizabeth Dubois
Executive Director, Vote Savvy

About Be the Vote

Be the Vote is a non-partisan not-for-profit organization, led by a group of young Canadians passionate about getting youth to vote. Be the Vote is powered by volunteers and works on creative awareness campaigns to foster a wider-spread culture of political engagement in Canada.

About Vote Savvy

Vote Savvy is a non-partisan not-for-profit aimed at making it easy for young people to learn about the political issues that matter to them. Vote Savvy is active on campuses across the country encouraging youth to engage in their political system through an online survey tool, vote mobs and shareable videos.