The 2021 federal election is fast approaching — but in fact, you can cast your ballot right now.
There are four ways to vote, including through the mail and a few in-person options.
Here's a breakdown of all the ways you can have your say in the Sept. 20 election (and more things to know):
Busy on election day or just want to try to avoid the crowds? Starting on Friday, Sept. 10, you can cast your ballot at your advance polling station.
These stations are open from 9 a.m to 9 p.m. this Friday, Saturday, Sunday and Monday. If you received a voter information card from Elections Canada in the mail, it will indicate the location of your designated advance polling station.
Registered voters are supposed to receive the card in the mail by Sept. 10, but if you didn't get yours, you can still vote.
You can register in advance online or in person at any Elections Canada office until Tuesday, Sept. 16, at 6 p.m. You can also register at your polling station, including advance polling stations, when you cast your ballot.
But regardless of whether you vote on election day or through the advance polls, you can only cast your ballot at your assigned polling station, not any polling station in your riding.
Find the right place to vote on Elections Canada's website, which allows you to search by location.
In order to vote, either in advance or on election day, you'll also need to be able to provide proof of your identity and address, but more on that later...
Special ballot (in person)
You can also vote through what's known as the special ballot process at an Elections Canada returning office. The deadline to get your ballot is 6 p.m. on Sept. 14.
When you vote by special ballot, you will have to write in the name of the candidate who you're supporting, but you can ask for a list of who's running if needed. (Writing a party name only won't be accepted). A full breakdown of the process is available here.
You can cast your ballot from any returning office in Canada. The locations in Windsor-Essex and Chatham-Kent are:
Devonshire Mall - 3100 Howard Ave., Windsor
Green Valley Plaza - 13300 Tecumseh Rd. E., Suite 238, Tecumseh
Sun Parlour Jr Public School - 125 Maidstone Ave. W., Essex
Leamington Medical Village - 200-197 Talbot St. W., Leamington
730 Richmond St. - Chatham
County Fair Mall - 68 McNaughton Ave., Suite 14, Wallaceburg
The offices are open during the following hours.
Monday to Friday 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.
Saturday 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Sunday 12 p.m. to 4 p.m.
Vote by mail
Voting by mail also involves voting by special ballot. You will need to apply for a kit, either online through Elections Canada or at a returning office. The deadline to apply for a kit, or to get one in person, is Sept. 14.
Once approved, a special ballot kit will be mailed to you along with the instructions you need to follow to complete the ballot and return it to Elections Canada.
Similar to voting at a returning office, the special ballot will not have a list of candidates so you'll have to write in your choice.
Full details on how to vote by mail are available here.
Voting from abroad
Canadians living in the U.S. or elsewhere in the world can also vote by mail. Applications to vote have to be made by 6 p.m. ET on Sept. 14, and ballots have to be returned by 6 p.m. on election day, Sept. 20.
In person on election day
It's an oldie but a goodie: casting your ballot on election day. Polls in Windsor-Essex are open on Monday, Sept. 20, from 9:30 a.m. to 9:30 p.m.
As previously mentioned, you do not need to pre-register to vote, but there are a few things you need to know.
Who is eligible and what do I need to bring?
Anyone who is 18 and older and a Canadian citizen is eligible to vote.
You have to be able to prove your identity and address, through ID such as a drivers' licence, but there's a range of acceptable documents so not having photo ID doesn't mean you can't vote.
As Elections Canada's website explains, there are three different options to verify your identity, including getting someone to vouch for you.
They also recommend you bring your voter information card, too, to make the process easier.
But in order to cast your ballot, you have to show up at your assigned polling station. If you haven't received a voter information card or aren't sure where to go, you can find your polling station here by searching your postal code.