Applying for a Mail-in Ballot
For the 2021 Election, Elections Canada has instituted an online method for electors residing in the country to apply for a mail-in ballot. Once an elector applies for a mail-in ballot, the option to vote in person, either at advanced polls or on polling day, is forfeited.
The application process for a mail-in ballot requires the elector to upload an acceptable piece of identification. Once the application has been processed, Elections Canada confirms receipt of the application by e-mail and provides a tracking number where the status of the ballot can be viewed, from it being sent to the elector, up to the completed ballot having been received by Elections Canada. The elector is provided with a “voters kit” which includes a stamped return envelope. The counting of mail-in ballots requires additional processing time to protect the secrecy of the ballot.
The deadline for applying for a mail-in ballot is September 14, 6:00 pm. The deadline for receipt by Elections Canada is polling day at 6:00 pm if you are voting by mail from outside of your riding. Electors have the option of dropping their ballot off at special boxes that will be in place at polling stations, in which case they must be received before the polls close.
To use a mail-in ballot, electors must know the name of the candidate they wish to vote for as the proscribed form provides only a blank space in which to write a single name. Even after the final list of candidates is published on September 1, the same mail-in ballot is used, as stipulated by law.
Elections Canada informs: “Candidates continue to be confirmed until Monday, August 30. If you already know who you are voting for, you can mark and return your ballot at any time. If you aren’t sure or prefer to wait until all of the candidates in your riding have been confirmed, you can simply wait until the final list has been published.”
Counting of mail-in ballots requires additional processing time. An outer envelope with the elector’s name is first checked off against the voters’ lists. The inner envelope which is unmarked and contains the ballot is then placed in a ballot box unopened. Mail-in ballots do not start to be counted until after in-person ballots have all been counted, as Elections Canada needs to verify that the voter has not already cast a ballot in person. With projections of up to five million electors choosing to vote by mail, counting may take up to several days in some ridings.