Public Opinion Survey Following the October 24, 2016, By-election in the Medicine Hat–Cardston–Warner Riding
Phoenix Strategic Perspectives was commissioned by Elections Canada to conduct a random digit dialling telephone survey with 750 Canadians eligible to vote in the October 24, 2016, by-election in the Medicine Hat–Cardston–Warner federal electoral district. The purpose of the survey was to evaluate electors' opinions, experience, attitudes and knowledge with respect to the agency's services and various aspects of the electoral process. The results will be used to help evaluate and refine Elections Canada's programs and services to the electorate. The fieldwork was conducted from October 29 to November 13, 2016, and the overall results can be considered accurate to within ±3.6%, 19 times out of 20.
The key findings are listed below.
Awareness of the By-election and Voter Information
Awareness of the by-election was very high, recall of advertising or communications from Elections Canada was moderate, and most voters felt they were informed about how, when and where to vote.
- Almost all eligible voters (97%) said they were aware of the October 24, 2016, by-election in the federal electoral district of Medicine Hat–Cardston–Warner.
- A little over two thirds (67%) of eligible voters aware of the by-election recalled seeing advertising or communications from Elections Canada about how, when and where to vote in the October 24 by-election. Those who recalled seeing, hearing or reading advertising or communications for the October 24 by-election were most likely to have noticed it in newspapers (37%) or on the radio (32%). In addition, one quarter (25%) stated that they recalled getting information about the by-election from their voter information card (VIC). Television was cited by 22% of respondents. Additionally, 17% said they recalled advertisements in Elections Canada brochures and leaflets received in the mail.
- When asked how well informed they felt in terms of how, when and where to vote, three quarters (75%) of voters felt they were very informed about the by-election. In addition, roughly one fifth (18%) of voters felt they were somewhat informed. Relatively few viewed themselves as somewhat uninformed (4%) or very uninformed (3%).
- Few (10%) visited Elections Canada's website, but those who did were satisfied with the information they found on the site: 48% were very satisfied and 45% were somewhat satisfied. Dissatisfaction was low, but those who were not satisfied were more likely to be very dissatisfied with the information (6%).
- Only 3% of surveyed electors aware of the by-election said they had contacted Elections Canada during the campaign. Most of these respondents were satisfied with the information received from Elections Canada (57% were very satisfied and 31% were somewhat satisfied).
Voter Information Card (VIC) and Registration
Most recalled receiving their VIC and brought it with them to vote. Just over half claimed to be aware of Elections Canada's Online Voter Registration Service.
- Most (86%) of those who were aware of the by-election claimed they had received their VIC. Almost everyone (98%) who reported having received their VIC said that it had their correct name on it. When asked whether the card had their correct address, 99% said the address was correct.
- Of those who voted in the election in person, 82% said they brought their VIC with them to vote.
- More than three quarters (77%) of all respondents knew that voters need to be registered to vote in Canadian federal elections.
- Of those who were aware of the need to be registered to vote, 54% knew that electors could use an online voter registration service; 17% thought they could not, and 29% simply didn't know.
Voting and Voter Participation
- When asked whether a number of different methods were possible for voting in federal elections, virtually everyone (91%) claimed to be aware that Canadians could vote at advance polling stations. Awareness was much lower for other voting methods. Roughly three in five (59%) said that an Elections Canada Office was a method by which voters could vote, while 31% said that voters could vote by mail.
- A clear majority of respondents who were aware of the by-election (71%) reported that they had voted at the October 24 by-elections, while 29% said that they did not vote.
- The large majority of those who voted (78%) said they used the polling stations on election day. However, nearly one in five (19%) said they used advance polling stations. Only 3% said they voted at an Elections Canada office or at home.
- Among those who did not vote, 43% said they did not vote due to everyday life or health reasons such as being too busy (22%), being out of town (14%) or having an illness or disability (7%). A further 22% reported that they did not vote due to political reasons, and only 3% reported electoral process–related reasons.
Almost everyone knew about the voter identification requirements and brought the required documents with them to vote.
- The large majority of respondents knew that federal elections have voter identification requirements. Ninety-seven percent were aware that voters had to present a proof of identity when they vote in a federal election. Noticeably fewer (84%), however, were aware that voters had to present proof of their address when voting.
- Of those who voted at polling stations, almost everyone (98%) brought the required identification documents with them. Additionally, the vast majority of those who voted at polling stations found it easy to meet the identification requirements–93% said very easy, and 6% somewhat easy.
Satisfaction with the voting experience was widespread. Most felt it was very easy to cast their vote, and virtually everyone was satisfied with the language in which they were served at the polling station, as well as the services provided by Elections Canada staff.
- Ninety-one percent of electors who voted in the by-election felt it was very easy, with most of the rest saying it was somewhat easy (5%). Few (4%) characterized voting as difficult.
- Of those who voted in person for the October 24, 2016, by-election, nearly all found their facilities convenient and easy to reach. Ninety-seven percent said the location was a convenient distance from their home, while 98% said they had no difficulty reaching the voting location.
- Nine in ten (90%) respondents said that the facility in which they voted was very suitable, with 8% saying somewhat suitable. Furthermore, 95% of those who voted in person felt that the facilities had enough directional signs.
- The largest proportion of voters (42%) said they voted between noon and 5:00 p.m. That said, morning voting was also popular (23%), as was evening voting (30%). Most respondents (70%) took 5 minutes or less to vote at the polling station, with 97% of voters saying this was a reasonable amount of time. For ordinary polls, the average time taken to vote was 6 minutes and the median was 5 minutes. For advance polls, the average time was 8 minutes and the median was 5 minutes. In addition, all voters were served in English, and virtually everyone (99%) was satisfied with the service they received in English.
- There was widespread satisfaction with the services provided by Elections Canada staff. Ninety-one percent of those who voted in person were very satisfied with Elections Canada staff, while 7% were somewhat satisfied.
Electors believe that the by-election was run fairly by Elections Canada and trust the accuracy of the by-election results.
- Almost three quarters (73%) felt that Elections Canada ran the by-election very fairly, with a further 16% saying somewhat fairly. Relatively few (4%) felt that Elections Canada ran the by-election unfairly.
- In addition, overall, surveyed electors felt they could trust the accuracy of the by-election results. Seven in ten rated their level of trust in the accuracy as very high. An additional 21% said their level of trust was somewhat high. Conversely, only 6% described their level of trust as somewhat or very low.