Ontario Election 2022: Voting 101
This article is part of a series extensively covering the 2022 Ontario general election. It provides voters and business leaders a 360 degree view of all the rules and regulations affecting the campaign and voting, as well as insights into news and other developments this election season. It is intended as general guidance only.
To view the rest of our coverage, please visit Ontario Election 2022.
On June 2, 2022, Ontarians will elect the province’s 43rd Legislative Assembly. The Ontario Election Act governs what voters may (and may not) do on Election Day. Here’s what you need to know.
Who can vote?
First, the basics. You must be 18 years or older, a Canadian citizen, and a resident of Ontario to vote in Ontario (or if the voter has an intention to return and have been permitted to vote, as noted below.) Voters also need at least one piece of identification. If you received your Voter Information Card (“VIC”), you may bring your VIC as well as an additional piece of identification that shows your name. If you have not received your VIC, you will need to bring a piece of identification that shows both your name and address. Photo ID is not required. Refer to the list of acceptable forms of identification on Election Ontario’s website to avoid problems at the polls.
In rural polling divisions, it is possible to receive a ballot without sufficient identification by vouching. You must take an oath as to your eligibility to vote and another voter with sufficient identification must take an oath vouching for your eligibility. A voter may vouch for multiple people.
Where do I vote?
Ontario is divided into ridings, which in turn are divided into polling divisions. Each polling division will have a polling place. On Election Day, a single location may be the polling place for multiple polling divisions. These locations must comply with the accessibility standards set by the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act, 2005. They are often churches, schools, libraries, or similar locations.
Polling places are provided for hospitals, retirement homes, and similar institutions. Residents of the institutions may vote at the provided polling places, and bedside voting shall be arranged. These polling places may be mobile, in order to visit several institutions in a riding.
You must vote at the polling place for your polling division. Your VIC will describe its location. If you are unsure or have not received your VIC, Elections Ontario has an online tool for finding your voting location.
In addition to voting in person on Election Day, voters may vote:
- At their returning office until 6:00 p.m. the day before Election Day.
- By mail by completing a “Vote by Mail” application.
- By home visit if the voter is: unable to visit a returning office because of a disability; unable to read or write; unable to complete an application form; and/or someone who requires assistance.
- In hospital, when elections officials visit participating hospitals during a general election to allow electors temporarily in the hospital the opportunity to vote.
- On-campus, if the eligible voter is studying in Ontario but is living away from home for school.
- By adding themself to the Register of Absentee Voters, if the voter is temporarily residing outside of Ontario, was a resident of Ontario for at least 12 consecutive months before leaving Ontario, and has an intent to return to Ontario. Such voters are considered absentee voters for up to two years from the date of leaving Ontario.
For more information on the ways to vote, visit the “Ways to Vote” page on Elections Ontario’s website.
When can I vote?
Polling stations will be open from 9:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. Eastern Time (or 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Central Standard Time). Voting hours may be extended if voting does not start on time or is delayed.
The doors to the polling place will close when the polls do, at which point you will not be able to enter and vote. If you are inside the polling station or in line to vote at 9:00 p.m. Eastern Time (or 8:00 p.m. Central Standard Time), you will be permitted to vote even if the doors have closed.
If you are a qualified voter working on Election Day, and your hours of employment do not allow for three consecutive hours to vote while the polls are open, then you may request that your employer allow additional time to provide for those three consecutive hours. See our blog post here regarding what you need to know about taking time off to vote.
How do I vote?
When you arrive at your polling place, you may find stations for multiple polling divisions. Find the station with the number that corresponds to the number on your VIC, or ask one of the Elections Ontario staff.
At the station, you will find a Deputy Returning Officer (“DRO”) and a poll clerk. There may also be scrutineers representing the candidates. After you present your identification, you will be handed a folded ballot with the DRO’s initials on the back. Take the ballot behind a voting screen and, if you wish, make a mark in the circular space next to your preferred candidate’s name. Take the ballot back to the station and deposit it in the ballot box after the DRO has confirmed the initials on the back of the ballot. When you are finished, you must leave the polling place.
If you are not on the voters list, you may add your name by providing a piece of identification with your name and current address. You must be at the polling place for the polling division in which you live. After you add your name, you may receive a ballot and proceed to vote.
It is illegal to display your ballot with an indication of how you voted, or to use your phone in a polling place without permission from the returning officer. This means you may not take a selfie with your ballot.
For more information on how to vote, visit the “How to Vote” page on Elections Ontario’s website.
The Bottom Line
This primer is designed to ensure that voters know their rights and responsibilities on Election Day, however they decide to participate. If you will be voting, ensure that you know what you need to vote, where you need to go, and when you need to be there.
This article is part of our 2022 Ontario Election series. You can access related content here.
Have questions about working with government and government agencies? Our Public Sector experts at McCarthy Tétrault LLP can help. Please contact Awanish Sinha, Hartley Lefton, Amanda D. Iarusso, or Jacob Klugsberg, if you have any questions or for assistance.
Discover more by reading our other articles on the 2022 Ontario general election:
- Ontario Election 2022: What you need to know about time off work for employees on Election Day
- Ontario Election 2022: What you need to know before selling political advertising on your platform
- Ontario Election 2022: What you need to know before you donate or advertise during an election
- Ontario Election 2022: What you need to know about the caretaker convention
- Ontario Election 2022: Guidance for lobbyists this election season
- Ontario Election 2022: The Ontario election has officially been called
- Ontario Election 2022: What you need to know about Political Events
- The Votes are In – 2022 Ontario Election Results