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A Guide to Voting in Your Municipal Election
If you are a Canadian citizen you have the chance to choose who represents you in municipal (city) politics. Municipal services affect your everyday life.
In This Article
Can I vote?
To vote in a municipal election, you must be:
- A Canadian citizen (temporary and permanent residents cannot vote);
- 18 years of age or older;
- A resident of the municipality where you plan to vote, or the owner or tenant of property in the municipality where you plan to vote, or the spouse of the owner or tenant who does not live elsewhere in the municipality; and
- Not prohibited from voting under any law.
To vote in elections for a school board trustee, you must:
- Meet the criteria above; and
- Be a supporter of the school board (English, French, Public or Catholic) for which the election is being held.
You may vote only once in a municipal election. If you own or rent more than one property, you must vote where you live.
Can I vote if I have no fixed address, or no home at all?
If you are homeless, or do not have a permanent home or a fixed address, you can still vote.
You can vote in the area where you slept in the 5 weeks before the election.
What is the Voters List?
The Voters List is a list of people who can vote in an election.
If you are on the Voters List, you will get a voter notification card in the mail, a few weeks before the next election. It will tell you where to vote.
Bring your voter notification card and acceptable identification documents when you go to vote.
If you do not get a card, contact your municipality to get on the list. You can also add your name to the Voters List on voting day.
You can check to see if your name is on the Voters List on the Voter Lookup website.
Who am I voting for?
If you are eligible to vote, you will vote for a mayor and a councillor or councillors if your municipality uses a ranked ballot. In some cases, you will also vote for a school board trustee, regional councillor or regional chair.
To get information about the election and the candidates, look in local newspapers, radio, television, and on your municipality’s website. You may also contact candidates’ campaign offices.
Your municipality provides the day-to-day services you count on, such as fire and police services, water, parks, transit and public libraries.
Your municipality decides how your property tax dollars are spent. Your vote does make a difference.
Voting for your school board trustee is also important. Trustees decide how best to meet the needs of students by administering the building and maintenance of schools, hiring the teachers and staff needed to run them, and authorizing spending on educational programs and initiatives.
When can I vote?
Municipal Elections are held every 4 years in October.
If you cannot or do not want to vote on election day, you can vote earlier in advance voting. You do not need a reason to vote early!
Contact your municipality to find out where advanced voting places are and what days they are open.
Where do I vote?
The address will be shown on your voter notification card. If you do not get a card, contact your municipality to find out where to vote.
What identification (ID) do I need to vote?
You need to bring your voter notification card and personal identification that shows your name, signature and address.
You can show:
- 1 piece of identification that shows your name, signature and address; or
- 1 piece of identification that shows your name and signature and 1 piece that shows your name and address.
Your voter notification card cannot be used as identification. See examples of acceptable identification.
If you do not have acceptable identification you can still vote. You will need to fill out a form and swear an oath before you can get a ballot.
How do I mark the ballot?
Here are a couple examples of what your ballot may look like.
In this case, draw a line between the head and tail of the arrow pointing to the candidate of your choice.
In this case, mark an X in the white circle beside the candidate of your choice.
Use the pen or pencil in the voting booth.
Give your ballot to the election official, who will put it into the ballot box.
If you have any questions on how to properly mark the ballot, ask an election official.
What if I make a mistake when marking the ballot?
If you make a mistake or change your mind about who you want to vote for, ask the election official for another ballot. If you do not get a new ballot, your ballot may be considered spoiled and not counted.
What if I need assistance to vote?
Your city or municipality may have options for you if you cannot travel to the voting site, need help to mark or see the ballot, or have other needs. Contact your municipality for more information. Some candidates offer rides by campaign volunteers to help people make it to the polling station.
Can I use an interpreter?
You can ask anyone who is not a candidate or a scrutineer (a person who represents a candidate) to act as an interpreter for you. They must swear an oath that they will faithfully translate any communication between you and the election officials.
Interpreters may not go behind the voting screen with you or assist you in voting.
Can I get someone else to vote for me?
If you are eligible to vote but are not able to vote on any of the available voting days you may appoint a proxy to vote for you by completing a Appointment for Voting Proxy - Form. This is called voting by proxy.
The person you choose to vote for you, your proxy, must be also be eligible to vote in the municipality where you plan to vote.
You can complete a proxy application form after the election is announced at the Office of the City Clerk, or another location designated by the clerk, during certain hours and must return it complete before election day. Once the proxy is certified they must take an oath attesting that they are the appointed elector.
For More Information
- Municipalities of Ontario - A list of links to official websites of Ontario municipalities. From the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing.
- Municipal Elections - Information about the most recent elections in Ontario municipalities.
- Find Forms for Municipal Elections - A list of links to forms from Government of Ontario’s Central Form Repository.
- VoterLookup.ca - This site lets you confirm, update and add your name to the voters' list for municipal elections. This site from the Municipal Property Assessment Corporation (MPAC).
December 7, 2020