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November 15, 2020 marks 40 years since the establishment of Elections Manitoba, the office of Manitoba’s chief electoral officer. The office came into being through an amendment to The Elections Act, which received royal assent on July 29, 1980 and was proclaimed into force on November 15, 1980. To celebrate this milestone, Elections Manitoba has created a video timeline of the province’s election history, from 1870 to the present.


December 27, 1870 - The first general election in the newly created province of Manitoba is held. Twenty-four Members are elected to the Legislative Assembly. Votes are cast orally at public constituency meetings. Only male British subjects who are 21 years or older and own property can vote.

July 11, 1888 - The secret ballot is used for the first time in the seventh general election.

1916 - Thanks to the efforts of Nellie McClung, the Political Equality League and others, Manitoba women become the first in Canada to be able to vote in provincial elections. It is important to note that this right only extends to British subjects over the age of 21; Indigenous women are excluded.

1931 - Indigenous people serving in the military can vote in provincial elections

1932 - Advance voting is introduced in Manitoba elections. Manitobans can now vote in provincial elections before election day.

1952 - Indigenous people with Treaty Status are now have the right to vote.

1957 - The Electoral Divisions Boundaries Commission is formed as an independent body to review electoral division boundaries. The process is not subject to government or political influence, ensuring it is fair and results in effective representation for all citizens. Manitoba becomes the first province to create such a commission.

1960 - All Indigenous people now have the right to vote.

1969 - The voting age in Manitoba is lowered from 21 to 18.

November 17, 1980 - The Elections Act is given Royal Assent. The legislation creates the Office of the Chief Electoral Officer (also called Elections Manitoba) as an independent, non-partisan body to deliver free and fair elections. The Elections Finances Act is given Royal Assent, and introduces advertising spending limits for parties and candidates, plus other major changes in how elections are run in Manitoba. Richard Willis is named Manitoba’s first full time chief electoral officer (CEO) and serves in the role until 1989.

1988-90 - The right to vote is expanded to patients in mental health care facilities, inmates in correctional institutions and persons with a mental disability living in an institution

1990 - Richard Balasko becomes Elections Manitoba’s second CEO. Previously deputy CEO, Balasko had been acting CEO since 1989.

2000 - Manitoba becomes the first and only province to establish a shared code of ethical conduct for political participants. The code was developed through consensus with all registered parties.

2006 - The Elections Act is re-written in plain language, making the electoral process more accessible. The option to vote at any advance voting location is introduced. Advance voting is extended to a seven-day period.

2008 - A set election date is introduced. The advance voting period is extended to eight days.

July 10, 2013 - Shipra Verma becomes the first woman to be CEO of Elections Manitoba. Shipra had been acting CEO since 2010. The Election Financing Act is rewritten in plain language and reorganized for clarity, making it easier for Manitobans to participate in the electoral process.

November 10, 2017 - The Elections Amendment Act modernizes the conduct of elections in Manitoba. The Act creates a permanent voters list, the Manitoba Voter Register. Voters in Manitoba can register and update their information online. All eligible voters receive a voter information card.

September 10, 2019 - The 42nd general election is held. 870,137 Manitobans are registered to vote

Email: election@elections.mb.ca election@elections.mb.ca | Tel 204-945-3225 204-945-3225 | Toll free 1-866-628-6837 1-866-628-6837

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