How to Vote as an Expat Canadian

If you’re one of my Canadian compatriots living abroad, then there has been a disappointing bit of news to pass along. If you’ve been living as an expat for five years, you can no longer vote in Canadian federal elections. If you spent enough time on the outside, looking in, you’ll probably have seen this vote suppression creeping along for the past half decade.

If you haven’t given up on Canada’s democratic process, then I’ll let you know how to get a mail-in ballot while living abroad (provided of course that you still qualify for one).

First, you will need to get the forms AVAILABLE HERE. Keep in mind, you will need to have copies of government-issued ID available that has your home address on it. Your driver’s licence will have it. If you don’t have a Canadian driver’s license, then a provincial or territorial ID card will also do. If you don’t have anything like that, here’s the complete list of what’s accepted as ID (you’ll need one from each group):

Pieces with your name:

-health card
-Canadian passport
-birth certificate
-certificate of Canadian citizenship
-citizenship card
-social insurance number card
-Indian status card
-Canadian Forces identity card
-Veterans Affairs health card
-old age security card
-hospital card
-medical clinic card
-label on a prescription container
-identity bracelet issued by a hospital or long-term care facility
-blood donor card
-CNIB card
-credit card
-debit card
-employee card
-student identity card
-public transportation card
-library card
-liquor identity card
-parolee card
-firearms licence
-licence or card issued for fishing, trapping or hunting
-driver’s licence (may be used to prove your name if the address is outdated)
-provincial or territorial ID card (may be used to prove your name if the address is outdated)

Pieces with your name and address:

-utility bill (e.g. electricity; water; telecommunications services including telephone, cable or satellite)
-bank statement
-credit union statement
-credit card statement
-personal cheque
-government statement of benefits
-government cheque or cheque stub
-pension plan statement
-residential lease or sub-lease
-mortgage contract or statement
-income tax assessment
-property tax assessment or evaluation
-vehicle ownership
-insurance certificate, policy or statement
-correspondence issued by a school, college or university
-letter from a public curator, public guardian or public trustee
-targeted revision form from Elections Canada to residents of long-term care facilities
-letter of confirmation of residence from a First Nations band or reserve or an Inuit local authority
-letter of confirmation of residence, letter of stay, admission form or statement of benefits from one of the following designated establishments:
student residence
seniors’ residence
long-term care facility
shelter
soup kitchen

Name and address will be a kicker, especially since you’re living abroad, and no longer have a place of residence in Canada. If you don’t have a Canadian driver’s licence, I would use a credit card statement (hopefully you still have at least one Canadian credit card).

Although I was no longer deemed a resident of Canada while in Korea, I kept my Canadian address as my parents’. If you are about to go abroad, I strongly suggest you use a family, or friend’s address as a proxy one (and make sure you register it as such before going abroad).

Once your form is filled out, and you carefully looked over everything, you need to send it to Elections Canada.

Elections Canada
30 Victoria Street
Gatineau, Quebec
K1A 0M6

Telephone:
1-800-463-6868
toll-free in Canada and the United States

001-800-514-6868
toll-free in Mexico

613-993-2975
from anywhere in the world

For people who are deaf or hard of hearing:
TTY 1-800-361-8935
toll-free in Canada and the United States

Fax:
613-954-8584
1-888-524-1444
toll-free in Canada and the United States

When your application gets the okay, you’ll have added yourself to the list of International Register of Electors. Come election time, you’ll get a special voting ballot kit.

Annually, expats contribute $6bn in income taxes to Canada (unless they live where there is a tax treaty between the country and Canada, like Korea or Japan). If you live abroad, are a Canadian citizen, and you still contribute to Canada’s taxes, then voting is your civic right.

It’s massively important you register to get yourself on the list as soon as possible. Don’t wait until the fall for the election. Do it now while it is still summer.

61% of eligible voters voted in the last election. 38% of that 61% gave the Conservatives a majority. So 23% of eligible Canadian voters decided the country’s fate for the next four years. Your voice matters.