Waterloo Region Votes

Your Information Hub for the 2018 Municipal Election

Information for Voters


What is this all about?

On October 22nd, 2018, are the Ontario municipal elections, including here in Waterloo Region. Representatives for three areas of government will be elected:

  • Regional government (Regional Chair and Councillors)
  • Municipal governments (Mayors and Ward Councillors)
  • School boards (Trustees)

There is an easy to understand voter’s guide for the Ontario municipal election on the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing website: 2018 Voters’ Guide.

Why should I vote in municipal elections?

Your municipal government is responsible for many of the services that directly impact your daily life. We’ve put together a separate page with information to explain the roles and responsibilities of the different positions. Becoming engaged with municipal government is your choice - do you want to have input into who’s making decisions about how your city functions?

The Region of Waterloo has also created a series of videos in which local voters explain their reasons to vote.

I thought we just had an election?

On June 7 2018 Ontario had a provincial election. This is a municipal election. Both sets of elections are currently held every four years.

Voter Eligibility

Am I permitted to vote?

You may vote if you are a Canadian citizen who resides in Waterloo Region, owns property here, or has a spouse who owns property here. You must also be on the voter’s list.

There are some exceptions to these guidelines that may prohibit you from voting: see the “Who cannot vote” section on the Region of Waterloo Elections Page.

I voted provincially. Am I registered to vote?

Not necessarily. The provincial register of electors is distinct from the municipal one. The municipal List of Electors is managed by MPAC, the Municipal Property Assessment Corporation (MPAC).

How do I register to vote?

MPAC maintains an online tool for checking your voter registration at https://www.voterlookup.ca . This is the place to start. If your information is correct you will probably receive a voter card in the mail.

If your information is not correct or you are not present on the site then life gets complicated. The best way for you to ensure that you are registered to vote is by registering in your area municipality. You may be able to register on voterlookup.ca as well, but be careful – your registration there may only apply for the 2022 election onwards, not the 2018 one.

In most cases it is wise to get yourself registered before election day, but some area municipalities allow registration when you vote.

Here is information about getting yourself registered in the different area municipalities.

Cambridge: Fill out the following form and submit it to the Clerk’s Office on the 2nd floor of Cambridge City Hall. You will also need to show identification.

For Internet voting you will need a PIN which is mailed to you. For in-person voting you may register on voting day at your polling station. See https://www.cambridge.ca/en/your-city/information-for-voters.aspx for more information.

Kitchener: You may look up your voter registration information on the city website.

Until October 19, you may fill out the following form and submit it to Legislated Services, at the 2nd floor of Kitchener City Hall.

On election day you will be able to register to vote at your polling station. See https://www.kitchener.ca/en/city-services/what-voters-need-to-know.aspx for more information.

North Dumfries: Voters should recieve an information letter by October 1. The township is holding several voter help centres at the North Dumfries Community Complex (NDCC) and Clyde-Scott Women’s Institute (Clyde). See this PDF for the voter help centre schedule. You may also contact the Clerk’s office. For more information see: https://www.northdumfries.ca/en/township-services/information-for-voters-.aspx.

City of Waterloo: You can look up and change your voter registration information here: https://www.waterloo.ca/en/government/voter-registration.asp.

Wellesley: If you are on the voter’s list you should receive a voter information letter by October 15. There is a voter help line at 519-699-3968 where you can check your registration. You may also contact the Clerk’s office. For more information see: https://www.wellesley.ca/en/township-services/voter-information.aspx.

Wilmot: Check your information here: https://www.wilmot.ca/en/township-office/voters--list.aspx. You can change your voter registration information at the township office, or on voting day at your voting location.

Woolwich: Registered voters should receive an information letter in “early October”. Registration information must be changed in person. There is a voter help line at 519-669-6049, and the municipality is holding a number of Election Help Centres: see https://www.woolwich.ca/en/township-services/information-for-voters.aspx for times and locations.

I am a student. Do I get to vote?

Yes. Depending on where your home address is, you may be eligible to vote twice!

See the “Post-secondary” section on the Region of Waterloo elections page.

I am homeless or have no fixed address. Do I get to vote?

Yes. Your voting address is considered to be the place where you ate or slept most frequently during the last five weeks.

About Voting

How do I vote? May I vote using the Internet?

This depends on the area municipality in which you live. In North Dumfries, Wellesley, and Woolwich you will only be able to vote via the Internet or by telephone. The election period for all of these area municipalities is from 10:00am on October 9 to 8:00pm on October 22. Proxy voting will not be allowed in any of these townships. For more information see the page for your area municipality:

In Cambridge you may vote by Internet (but not telephone?), or in-person during an advance polling day or on election day.

In the other area municipalities (Kitchener, City of Waterloo, Wilmot Township) you may vote in-person during an advance poll or on election day:

Do I need a voter card to vote? Do I need identification?

If your area municipality allows voting in person then you do not need a voter card. If your area municipality allows only Internet and telephone voting then you will need a PIN.

In general you need to bring identification with you in order to vote. The Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing publishes a list of acceptable documents for voter identification. If you do not have identification you may still vote, but you must be registered on the voter’s list and you must sign a declaration of your identity. See the voter’s list section of the 2018 Voters’ Guide for more information.

There are a lot of positions to vote for! Do I have to vote for all of them?

No. You may refrain from voting for some positions if you wish; your vote will count for the positions you did vote for.

Similarly, if a position elects more than one representative (for example, there are four Kitchener Regional Council representatives) then you are not obligated to cast four votes for that position.

Getting Informed

What parties are running in this election?

Unlike provincial or federal politics, municipal candidates in our municipality do not run under party banners.

This has the advantage of potentially reducing partisanship, but it means that candidates must be evaluated on their individual merits.

I don’t feel informed enough to vote. Where do I start?

Start by finding your municipal ward on the ward map or by finding your ward in the list of wards. There, you can find the candidates running for each position in your area, their websites, news articles about them, and events where they will be appearing.

Once you know your candidates, it is time to figure out who deserves your vote. Here are some strategies for becoming informed relatively quickly:

  • Attend all-candidates meetings for the races, or watch/listen to recordings of all-candidates meetings. This will cost you 2-4 hours per meeting, but is an effective way of comparing candidates against each other.

  • Visit candidate websites and/or social media presences. This can give you a sense of what candidates stand for and whether their views correspond to yours, but is not great for comparing candidates.

  • Read the answers to surveys posted by special interest groups. Reading responses from different (especially opposed) groups is a good way to assess how candidates respond differently to different audiences.

  • Read news coverage of candidates. Beware that some news coverage on social media feeds are written by advocates for political candidates.

There are also less effective strategies, such as voting for whatever candidate comes to your house and shakes your hand. Politicians know this strategy is effective, and they devote a lot of time to this, but other than identifying candidates who put time into door-knocking it does not give you much information about which candidates are best for their jobs.

I don’t feel informed enough to vote and there is not much time left. What do I do?

If you are stretched for time, you can follow one or two races and cast informed votes for those. The regional level of government is important, and many people do not pay sufficient attention to regional council candidates. Other influential positions are mayors and regional chair.

Spending an hour watching or listening to one all-candidates meeting can help you select the best candidates quickly.

Alternatively, you can follow one or two races by reading the campaign literature (in printed form or on the Internet) from the contenders, and choosing the candidates that match your views most closely.

How do I follow what is going on during the election?

Local media provides lots of election coverage.

On Twitter you can track the #wrvotes and #wrpoli hashtags.

In addition there are some lists of candidate Twitter feeds that you can follow:

There is an active discussion about the 2018 municipal elections on the Waterloo Region Connected forums.

Getting More Involved

How high is voter turnout in municipal elections?

Voter turnout tends to be significantly lower than for provincial or federal elections. The CBC published a summary of turnout rates for Waterloo Region. In 2014, they ranged from a low of 29.3% in Wellesley township to 40.6% in Wilmot township.

These rates are significantly lower than municipal election rates throughout Canada, as reported by Statistics Canada.

I want to organize an all-candidates meeting. What do I do?

If there are not enough all-candidates meetings for the positions that interest you (spoiler: there probably aren’t) then you can organize your own. This is not difficult, but does take some time and planning.

Judith Shane has created a comprehensive guide to organizing all-candidates meetings.

The City of Toronto also has a guide to ward all-candidates meetings. This guide contains some Toronto-specific information, but is good overall.

Some of the volunteers on this website also have experience in organizing all-candidates meetings, and would be happy to offer guidance. Contact us using the email at the bottom of this page.

Once you have started organizing your meeting, be sure to let us know about it so we can publish it on this website!

What other groups are working on election education?

The Region of Waterloo links to election information for the different municipalities at http://wrvotes.com .

The (City of) Waterloo Voter Support Committee has a website at http://waterloovotes.com

A group called the Waterloo Region Women’s Municipal Campaign School held workshops on how to run for political office. Several election candidates during this election credit the campaign school for inspiring them to run for office. They have a Twitter account here: @wrwomenrun.

The Cambridge oriented site https://cbridge.ca has a primer on the 2018 Municipal Election in Cambridge.

I don’t trust your candidate listings. Where can I find the real ones?

Official candidate listing pages are listed on http://wrvotes.com . For convenience, here they are again: