Secondary menu

Survey of Electors on Communications with Electors

Experience and Views Regarding Contact by Elections Canada, Parties & Candidates

This section focuses on electors' experience and attitudes towards being contacted by Elections Canada, political parties or candidates during the last federal general election.

Ten Percent Think They Received a Phone Call from Elections Canada

The large majority of electors (86%) reported that they had not received a telephone call from Elections Canada during the last federal general election informing them about where and when to vote. Conversely, 10% claim that they received such a telephone call (5% could not recall or declined to respond).


Contacted by Elections Canada by Phone graph

Text description of "Contacted by Elections Canada by Phone" graph


Considering that Elections Canada does not make any calls on a pro-active basis Footnote 1, these results could provide some indication of electors having received calls from persons impersonating Elections Canada. It is possible, however, that some respondents may have been confused about the source of the call. That said, if these self-reported claims do not stem from confusion Footnote 2, then these results could be interpreted as a sign of possible misusage of Elections Canada's name and identity.

Considering the low frequencies involved for those who report having received a phone call from Elections Canada informing them about where and when to vote (n=98), caution must be exercised when interpreting those results. Any extrapolation from such self-reported low occurrences would results in overestimation.

Having said that, it can be noted that among those electors who mentioned having received such a phone call from Elections Canada, 13 respondents stated that they had not voted at the 41st general election. This corresponds to a self-reported turnout rate of 87%, which is similar to this survey's turnout rate for the overall population (82%).

Socio-demographic Differences

The likelihood of thinking that respondents received a telephone call from Elections Canada during the last federal general election was higher among those from the Prairies (14%) and Ontario (11%) compared to residents of Quebec (5%).

Additionally, the likelihood of claiming to have received a call was higher amongst those who had been contacted by a political party or candidate (12% vs. 6% who had not) and those with positive reactions to this contact (14% vs. 8% with negative reactions).

More than Half Contacted During Last GE; Mail & Phone Top Methods of Contact

Close to three out of five of the electors surveyed (58%) were contacted by one or more political parties or candidates during the last federal general election. Several methods were routinely used to contact these electors.

Socio-demographic Differences

The likelihood of having been contacted by one or more political parties or candidates during the last federal general election was highest amongst:

  • Canadians aged 35 and over (64-65% vs. 28-53% of others). It was lowest amongst youth aged 18-24 (28%).
  • Those who had completed university (68% vs. 50-53% with lower levels of formal education).
  • Those who are retired or otherwise not in the workforce (64%) and the employed (58%).
  • Anglophones (63% vs. 40% of Francophones).
  • Members of households with both a landline telephone and a cell phone (62% vs. 31-57% of others). It was lowest amongst cell phone-only households (31%).
  • Those who identify with a particular federal political party (69% vs. 51% who do not).

Among those electors contacted (n=623) during the last federal general election, 66% report having received mail from a party or candidate, 62% a phone call from a live person, and 58% a phone call with a recorded message. Roughly one third (34%) received a visit from a party representative or candidate (i.e., door-to-door campaigning). Relatively few (12%) of those contacted during the last general election received an email from a party or candidate.


Contact Method Used During Last GE graph

Text description of "Contact Method Used During Last GE" graph


Socio-demographic Differences

Canadians with college or at least some university education were more likely to claim having been contacted by mail than those who had received less formal education (68-71% vs. 54%). These groups were also more likely to report having been contacted through an automated phone call (61-66% vs. 38%). Anglophones were more likely than Francophones to say they were contacted by mail (69% vs. 44%), an automated phone call (61% vs. 41%), and in-person (39% vs. 12%). Conversely, Francophones were more likely to have been contacted by a telephone call with a live person (72% vs. 60%).

Compared to landline only-households, cell phone-only households were more likely to say they were contacted by mail (81% vs. 54%). Conversely, landline-only households were more likely to have received a live telephone call compared to cell-only households (71% vs. 27%). Dual landline-cell phone users were most apt to have received an automated telephone call (64% vs. 42% or less of others).

Persuasion and Determining Voting Intent—Top Reasons for Contacting Electors

Electors were most likely to have been contacted by political parties or candidates for the purpose of persuading them to vote or determining their voting intentions. By a very wide margin, these were the top two reasons for which electors said they were contacted during the last federal general election. Almost half (49%) were contacted to discuss policy or to persuade them to vote for a party or candidate, while 40% said a party or candidate contacted them to determine their voting intentions. All other reasons were identified by 10% or fewer and can be seen in the accompanying graph.


Reasons for Contact During Last GE graph

Text description of "Reasons for Contact During Last GE" graph


A few electors (6%) indicated having received a phone call from a political party or a candidate informing them that their voting location was changed (n=39). These results may provide some indication of improper telecommunications with electors in the 41st general election. Among those respondents, 6 electors reported that they had not voted in the 41st general election. This self-reported turnout rate is similar to the overall population (85% vs. 82%). That said, caution must be exercised when interpreting these results. Extrapolation from such low-occurrence, self-reported incidences would result in overestimation.

Socio-demographic Differences

Anglophones were more likely than Francophones to have been contacted to discuss policy/persuade them to vote for a candidate or party (52% vs. 33%). Francophones, on the other hand, were more likely than Anglophones to have been contacted to determine their voting intentions (51% vs. 38%).

Turning to age, the likelihood of having been contacted to determine voting intentions increased with age and was highest among those 55+ (46%).

Landline-only households were the least likely to have been contacted to discuss policy/persuade them to vote for a candidate or party (40% vs. 51-53% of others).

Finally, electors with negative reactions to having been contacted were more likely than those with positive reaction to have been contacted to determine their voting intentions (48% vs. 36%).

Moderately Positive Impressions of Contact Experience

More than two thirds of electors contacted by political parties or candidates during the last federal general election had at least a moderately positive reaction. Specifically, 12% characterized their reaction to being contacted as very positive and 57% as somewhat positive. Of the rest, 22% said their reaction was somewhat negative and 8% that it was very negative.


Impression of Contact by Parties/Candidates graph

Text description of "Impression of Contact by Parties/Candidates" graph


Socio-demographic Differences

The likelihood of having a positive reaction was highest amongst:

  • Younger Canadians: it was highest amongst 18-24 year olds (92%) and lowest amongst those 55 and over (63%).
  • Students (92% vs. 66-68% of others).
  • Cell phone-only households (89% vs. 57% of landline-only households and 70% of dual service households).



Footnote 1 Elections Canada does not have electors' telephone numbers in the National Register of Electors and they are not present on the list of electors. That said, a few individuals might have asked Elections Canada to contact them by request for various purposes during the election period.

Footnote 2 It must be acknowledged that these self-reported claims relate to an experience that occurred more than a year ago. As such, it is possible that a portion of these respondents may have made an error in recovering this somewhat distant memory.