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Survey of Electors on Communications with Electors

Trust & Confidence in Institutions Involved in Electoral Process

This section reports on electors' trust and confidence in the various institutions involved in the electoral process in Canada.

Most View Conduct of Election as Fair

The perception that the last federal general election was conducted by Elections Canada in a fair manner was widespread. In total, 85% felt that Elections Canada ran the election in a fair manner, with 43% saying it was run very fairly. Only 8% felt that the election was not conducted fairly. Seven percent were unsure or did not venture an opinion.


Perceived Fairness of Last GE graph

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Compared to the results from the last federal general election, slightly fewer respondents felt that Elections Canada ran the election in a fair manner (90% in 2011 vs. 85% in this study). Once again, it is worth noting that the target audiences are not identical. This study included all eligible electors, while in 2011, this question was asked only of eligible electors aware of the election.

Socio-demographic Differences

The likelihood of thinking that Elections Canada ran the election very fairly was highest amongst:

  • Residents of the Prairies (52%).
  • Those who had completed university (48%).
  • Anglophones (48%).
  • Men (47%).
  • Dual landline and cell phone households (47%).
  • The employed and those who are retired or otherwise not in the workforce (44% vs. 22-30% of the unemployed and students).

High Levels of Trust in Election Results

The large majority (85%) expressed high levels of trust in the accuracy of the federal election results in Canada. Electors, however, were more apt to characterize their level of trust as somewhat (46%) rather than very (39%) high. Relatively few (14%) said their trust is somewhat (9%) or very low (5%).


Trust in Accuracy of Federal Election Results graph

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These results are virtually identical to those from the survey following the 41st federal general election in 2011: 85% vs. 87% in 2011.

Socio-demographic Differences

The likelihood of having somewhat or very high levels of trust was highest amongst:

  • Students (96%).
  • University-educated electors (91%).
  • Dual landline and cell phone households (89%).
  • Internet users (87%).

Atlantic Canadians were less likely than those living elsewhere to have high levels of trust in federal election results (72% vs. 80-89%).

Mixed Level of Confidence in Various Institutions

When thinking about federal general elections, electors are most likely to have confidence in Elections Canada. Fully 80% said they had quite a lot (48%) or a great deal (32%) of confidence in the Agency. Following at a distance was the judiciary or legal system (60%) and local candidates in federal elections (57%). Respondents were least likely to have confidence in federal political parties, with more than half (56%) saying they have not very much or no confidence at all in these institutions.


Confidence in Various Institutions graph

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Looking at the results another way, 12% of respondents have limited or no confidence in any of the institutions involved in the electoral process. In other words, these electors did not attribute 'quite a lot' or 'a great deal' of confidence to any of these institutions. At the other end of the spectrum, only 28% of respondents have quite a lot or a great deal of confidence in all four of these institutions. On average, the electors surveyed expressed confidence in two of the four institutions.

Socio-demographic Differences

The likelihood of having a great deal or quite a lot of confidence in all four institutions was highest amongst:

  • Francophones (37%).
  • Those who are neutral or who favour the need for political parties to communicate with electors in a tradeoff with the protection of personal privacy (34% vs. 24% who favour privacy).
  • Those with positive reactions to having been contacted by a political party or candidate during the last federal general election (32%).
  • Those who had completed university (31%).
  • Dual landline and cell phone households (30%).
  • Those with higher levels of political interest (30%).
  • Those who claimed to vote in the last federal general election (30%).
  • Internet users (29%).

Finally, the likelihood of having confidence in all four of these institutions increased with levels of trust in federal election results, from 5% of those with low levels of trust to 39% of those with high levels of trust.

The likelihood of having high levels of confidence in Elections Canada (i.e. a great deal or quite a lot) was highest amongst:

  • University graduates (89%).
  • Those aged 35-54 (87%).
  • Francophones (85%).
  • Dual landline and cell phone households (84%).
  • Internet users (82%).

Additionally, the likelihood of having very high levels of confidence was highest amongst men (39% vs. 25% of women), those who think political parties and candidates should self-regulate (38% vs. 29% who think they should be regulated by privacy laws), and those with positive reactions to having been contacted by a political party or candidate during the last federal general election (36% vs. 25% with negative reactions).

In terms of the other institutions:

  • The likelihood of having high levels of confidence in federal political parties was highest amongst students (63%), Francophones (49%), and university graduates (46%).
  • The likelihood of having high levels of confidence in local candidates in federal elections was highest amongst students (89%), Francophones (73%), university graduates (63%), and Internet users (59%).
  • The likelihood of having high levels of confidence in the judiciary or legal system was highest amongst students (76%), university graduates (72%), Francophones (67%), dual landline and cell phone households (65%), and Internet users (63%).