14 Fun Facts About Canada's Elections That May Surprise You
As excitement swirls around the upcoming 2019 federal election, let’s pause for a moment and brush up on Canada’s federal election history. In partnership with Elections Canada, here are 14 interesting facts that are sure to impress colleagues on your next lunch break.
Voting in secret
In 1874, secret balloting in Canada was introduced for the first time at the federal level.
On June 26, 1970, the voting age in Canada changed from 21 years old to 18 years old.
At the time of Confederation in 1867, the right to vote was limited to men over 21 who owned property—that was about 11% of the population. The rules are different today. You just have to be a Canadian citizen and 18 or older to be eligible to vote. That’s about 75% of the population.
Since 1929, the Canada Elections Act specifies that elections are to be held on a Monday unless that day is a federal or provincial holiday.
The Office of the Chief Electoral Officer (now Elections Canada) was established in 1920. It is one of the oldest independent electoral commissions in the world.
Number of ballots
For the next federal election, Elections Canada will print almost 37 million ballots.
When Parliament introduced the secret ballot in 1874, the first ballot boxes were wooden and had a lock and key. They later became metal and between 1988 and 1992, these boxes were gradually replaced with recyclable cardboard eliminating the need to store them between elections.
Up to 300,000 election workers will be hired across Canada to help conduct the 2019 federal election.
Highest turnout recorded in a federal election was in 1958 with 79.4% of registered electors casting their vote. Fifty years later, Canada recorded the lowest voter turnout with 58.8% in 2008. See the results over the years.
The many ways to vote
Ways to vote include voting on election day, on advance polling days which are held on the Friday, Saturday, Sunday and Monday the week before election day, in person at any Elections Canada office across the country or by mail.
Ways to reach electors
Elections Canada goes to great lengths to reach electors. For example, special ballot coordinators visit lighthouses in British Columbia via helicopters to deliver special ballot kits, as well as to very remote communities in Newfoundland. In some ridings, election workers take mobile polls to certain facilities such as long-term care institutions and hospitals at scheduled times to allow electors staying there to vote.
In the 2015 federal election, the smallest riding in terms of area was Toronto-Centre measuring 6 km². By comparison, the largest riding was Nunavut measuring 2,093,190 km². This means Toronto-Centre’s riding could fit into Nunavut’s riding approximately 348,865 times!
The youngest sitting Member of Parliament (MP) ever was Pierre-Luc Dusseault. He was only 19 years old when he was elected in the 2011 federal election. He was sworn in just two days after his 20th birthday. Re-elected in 2015, Dusseault remains the youngest sitting MP ever.
The oldest sitting MP following the 2015 federal election was David Tilson who was 74 years, 11 months when he won his riding. William Anderson Black remains the oldest ever having first been elected to the House of Commons at 76 years and winning his last election at 83.
The long and short of it
The longest campaign was for the federal election held on October 19, 2015 for a total of 78 days (11 weeks). By contrast, the 1874 federal election campaign took a mere 20 days, making it the shortest campaign in history. As of January 2019, changes to legislation provide that election campaigns must run between 36 and 50 days.