A brief guide for Canadians overseas on how to vote.

This is the first time I’ve been out of Canada during a federal election since I’ve been old enough to vote.

Having experienced some frustration, I’m providing a brief guide for Canadians outside of Canada on how to do it.

  1. You can only vote by mail, no matter what the people at Elections Canada’s call centre may tell you.  Go to this page to register (http://elections.ca/content.aspx?section=vot&dir=reg/svr&document=index&lang=e)
  2. Complete the online form, it will open up a fillable PDF, fill that in.  Make sure you save or print a copy somewhere.
  3. Send it by fax to 1-613-998-8393 (mailing or dropping at the Consulate will take longer, regardless of what Elections Canada will tell you)
  4. When you receive a courier notice from TNT couriers (by email), check to see if the address is correct. If it is, you’re lucky, skip to step 7.
  5. If the address is incorrect, re-submit the same exact form with a note explaining that the address they’re sending your ballot to is wrong.  Cross your fingers.
  6. Repeat steps 4 and 5 ad nauseum until they get the correct address. (Time I just saved you: 35 minute phone call with Elections Canada).  There is no other way to fix this.
  7. If you do not live near a consulate, high commission, or embassy, skip to step 8.  If you do live near a consulate, high commission, or embassy, call them.  Find their phone number from their website, linked from here: http://www.international.gc.ca/ciw-cdm/embassies-ambassades.aspx.  Ask them if they are sending a courier package with votes for the federal election, and the latest date (and time) that you can drop off your ballot.  This deadline might be close to the Easter holiday – in Sydney the deadline is April 27th at noon, but the consulate is closed for the five previous days so you have to go either that morning or before April 22nd.
  8. If you do not live near a consulate, contact the nearest and most reliable source of shipping (mail, courier, etc).  Find out the latest point at which you can send your ballot to Ottawa to arrive by 6PM (Ottawa time) on election day.
  9. Wait.
  10. When (if) you receive the ballot, complete it as instructed.  Then follow the instructions for putting it in envelopes — first into the inner envelope, then put the inner envelope into the outer envelope, then the outer envelope into the mailing envelope. Yes, seriously.
  11. Bring it to your consulate, high commission, or embassy by the deadline, or bring it to your shipping source by their deadline.  Cost from consulate/etc: nothing. Cost from shipping company: lots (unless you’re willing to vote before the parties launch their platform).
  12. Cross your fingers, or pray if you’re into that sort of thing.


7 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Traveleish on 2011/03/30 at 7:35 pm

    So complicated! As an Aussie, I have voted while overseas. I got an auto email from Smart Traveller notifying that there was an election and how to vote when overseas. I went to the nearest voting point — both times I have voted overseas this was the High Commission, conveniently in the city centre of the city I lived in at the time. I was able to vote in the two weeks that lead up to the election using a normal ballot paper. I also could have postal voted if I wanted to. No issues. No couriering or faxing of items. No cost to me.

    Perhaps a model for the Canadian government to consider?


    • I think Canada should just adopt the Australian electoral system en masse. Not really, but Australia does democracy much better than we do, and this is one very practical example!


  2. UPDATE: Turns out TNT (the courier) was at fault for the wrong address on the confirmation. The package was labelled correctly and I received my ballot today!


  3. […] other brief comparison is how to vote abroad.  I wrote the other day about how complicated it is to vote in Canada from abroad.  Strangely, some politicians picked this up and tweeted links to this as if it were an actual […]


  4. I am grateful to acquire found this site. Maintain up the great postings.


  5. […] the voting process, I’ll say this: my vote won’t count.  Not because I’m voting from abroad.  But because my last physical address in Canada was in Toronto Centre, where the Liberals have […]


  6. […] to that following the Canadian federal election (and voting, which was a process in and of itself) and an evening at the Opera House for the Sydney Symphony […]


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