Dropping the Writ: How a Federal Election is Called

With the federal election scheduled for October 19, election day is approaching quickly! Elections Canada has been preparing for this campaign since the end of the 2011 election, and we’re well prepared for our fifth federal election program.

How does the process of calling an election work? Here are some interesting facts and details:

  • The Canada Elections Act was amended in 2007 to incorporate fixed-date election legislation and general elections are now to be held on the third Monday of October in the fourth calendar year following the previous election. As a result, the upcoming election is scheduled to take place on October 19, 2015.
  • Elections can still be held earlier than scheduled if the government loses the confidence of the legislature. The governor general also retains the ability to dissolve parliament at any time on the advice of the prime minister.
  • An election call is also informally known as “dropping the writ.” In order for an election to occur, the Governor General directs the Chief Electoral Officer to issue a formal order that calls for an election to be held.
  • While there is no fixed date for when the writs must be issued, the amount of time between the writ drop and election day must be at least 36 days. Therefore, the latest possible day an election could be called is Sunday, September 13 for voters to go to the polls on Monday, October 19.


  • One writ of election must be issued for each of Canada’s federal ridings. Once all 338 writs have been issued, copies are sent to each returning officer (RO), of which there is one per riding. This individual is responsible for administering the election in their riding.
  • The returning officer will display this writ in their returning office as public record that an election is underway. After the election, there is a place on the writ to record the election result after counting the votes.
  • The election period has officially begun once all 338 writs have been issued and things that must happen during the election period can begin! These include the nomination of candidates for election, special rules on the reporting of polls must be observed by the media, advertising by government institutions must cease and campaign spending limits are put in place for parties and candidates.

You can also visit the Elections Canada website to learn more.

Register now for Student Vote Canada!

Schools can sign up now at or by calling our team toll-free at 1-866-488-8775.


Regardless of when the writ drops, registering for the Student Vote program today ensures that your resource package is distributed at the beginning of the school year.

Nearly 3,000 schools have already signed up from across the country, and we anticipate that 700,000 students will cast a Student Vote ballot this October.

The CIVIX team

1 Comment

  1. […] The writs of election have been issued and the 42nd general election campaign is officially underway! Prime Minister Stephen Harper met with Governor General David Johnston on Sunday morning and, after an 11-week campaign, Canadians will head to the polls on Monday, October 19. […]

    Pingback by Weekly Round-Up: August 7, 2015 | CIVIX — August 7, 2015 @ 2:27 AM

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