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Survey of Electors – Whitby–Oshawa / Yellowhead By-elections

Section 1: Awareness and sources of information

This section focuses on the respondents' level of awareness of the by-elections and on how they accessed information on various topics. Particularly, we will discuss awareness of voting procedures and voting options, the reach of Elections Canada advertising campaigns (radio, print and web), and voters' interaction with EC.

Awareness of the by-elections was generally high across all groups, although it was affected by factors such as age group and employment status. Newspaper, TV and radio were the most recalled sources of information. The first two had a positive correlation to age and the latter was fairly even among all age groups.

About a third of the respondents recalled seeing advertising from EC. Traditional media were mentioned by a higher proportion of respondents. Newspapers were where most respondents remembered seeing the advertisement followed by radio and televisionFootnote 4. The most remembered topic was the election date.

The voter information card (VIC) received in the mail was the most important source of information about voting procedures for over two thirds of electors. Virtually all respondents knew about the proof of identity requirement, and proof of address requirement was known to four in five respondents. Most respondents who were aware of the elections did not contact EC, but among those who did, three quarters found the information they were looking for.

1.1 Awareness of by-elections

Overall, awareness of the by-elections was noticeably high. Nine in ten (91%) respondents were aware that federal by-elections took place on November 17. Awareness was significantly higher in Whitby–Oshawa, where 95% of respondents were aware of the by-elections as compared to 86% in Yellowhead.

1.1.1 Awareness of by-elections
Text version of "1.1.1 Awareness of by-elections"

The three most recalled sources of information about the by-elections were newspapers, TV and radio with nearly three quarters (73%) mentioning at least one of those three media. Particularly, almost half of the respondents (47%) remembered reading about the election on the newspaper while 38% saw it on TV and 33% heard it on the radio. Other popular sources were candidates or parties' elections signs (18%), word of mouth (15%), voter information card (14%), and the EC householder brochure (14%).

1.1.2 Source of Information about the by-elections
Text version of "1.1.2 Source of Information about the by-elections"

Specific demographic characteristics had a significant effect on the type of media used.

While comparing the two ridings, electors in Whitby–Oshawa were more likely to hear about the by-elections on TV, candidates'/parties' election signs, online and on posters/signs/billboards, while the voter information card was significantly more popular among Yellowhead electors.

Table 1.1: Source of information about the by-elections by riding
Source of awareness Total Whitby–Oshawa Yellowhead
Newspaper 47% 47% 48%
TV 38% 45% 29%
Radio 33% 34% 31%
Candidates/parties election signs 18% 21% 14%
Word of mouth 15% 14% 16%
Voter information card 14% 10% 19%
EC householder – brochure/leaflet/reminder card 14% 14% 13%
Internet: other websites 7% 9% 5%
Posters/signs/billboards (unspecified) 6% 9% 4%
Social media 5% 4% 5%
Other 2% 2% 2%
Don't know/refused 2% 2% 2%

1.2 Advertising by Elections Canada

Overall, one third of respondents (34%) noticed advertisement from Elections Canada about the November 17 by-elections. Electors from Whitby–Oshawa were significantly more likely to have noticed them (40%) than those in Yellowhead (27%).

1.2.1 Reach of Elections Canada's Advertisement
Text version of "1.2.1 Reach of Elections Canada's Advertisement"

Most respondents recalled seeing the advertisement in the newspaper (59%). One in five recalled hearing them on radio (22%) or seeing them on television (19%).

1.2.2 Election Canada's Advertisement Noticed Via...
Text version of "1.2.2 Election Canada's Advertisement Noticed Via..."

There were some noticeable differences in the two ridings in terms of media on which the Elections Canada's advertisement was noticed. Newspapers were more effective in Yellowhead (65%) than in Whitby–Oshawa (55%), but the opposite is true for radio and television. One quarter of the residents from Whitby–Oshawa noticed the advertisement on the radio (26%) or TV (24%) compared to 16% and 11% from Yellowhead.

Table 1.2: Media where advertisement was noticed
Media where ad was noticed Total Whitby–Oshawa Yellowhead
Newspaper 59% 55% 65%
Radio 22% 26% 16%
Television 19% 24% 11%
Voter information card 5% 4% 5%
EC householder - brochure / leaflet /reminder card 4% 4% 4%
Email/Internet (unspecified) 3% 5% 1%
Billboards/bulletin boards/outdoor signs 3% 3% 3%
Media/news (unspecified) 3% 2% 4%
Other 2% 2% 2%
Don't know/Refusal 3% 2% 4%

The most recalled topic from EC's advertisement was the election date (44%), consistently remembered across all groups. Other topics included the reminder to vote (23%), the requirement of proof of ID and address (17%), polling stations' opening hours (12%), advance polling dates (12%), where to vote (10%) and general information about elections (7%).

1.2.3 Contents of Election Canada's Advertisement
Text version of "1.2.3 Contents of Election Canada's Advertisement"

Both ridings were fairly comparable in terms of the most commonly recalled topics from Elections Canada's advertisements. Electors from Whitby–Oshawa were more likely to remember the advance polling dates (15% vs. 7%) and general information about the election (10% vs. 3%) than respondents from Yellowhead; but they were less likely to remember where to vote (7% compared to 16%).

Table 1.3: Content of the advertisement
Content of the advertisement Total Whitby–Oshawa Yellowhead
Election date 44% 44% 44%
Reminder/enticement to vote 23% 22% 25%
Voters must prove their ID/address before voting 17% 19% 14%
Polling stations' opening hours 12% 10% 16%
advance polling dates 12% 15% 7%
Where to vote 10% 7% 16%
General information/announcement about election 7% 10% 3%
Names of candidates/political parties 5% 3% 8%
Other 3% 3% 4%
Don't know/Refusal 16% 14% 18%

Overall, nearly one in five (18%) respondents recalled hearing or seeing the slogan "Elections Canada, your source of voting information."

1.2.4 Recall of Election Canada's Slogan
Text version of "1.2.4 Recall of Election Canada's Slogan"

1.3 Awareness of voting procedures and ID requirements

More than two in three electors aware of the by-election said they received their information on voting procedures for the November 17 by-elections via their voter information card (68%), which represented 73% of the respondents from Whitby–Oshawa and 63% from Yellowhead.

1.3.1 Source of Information
Text version of "1.3.1 Source of Information"

A significantly greater proportion of electors in Whitby–Oshawa learned about the voting procedures through a voter information card. Other sources which were significantly more popular in Whitby–Oshawa include: television (5%), political parties/candidates (4%) and the Elections Canada website (3%).

Table 1.4: Source of information about voting procedures
Source of information Total Whitby–Oshawa Yellowhead
Voter information card 68% 73% 63%
Newspapers 17% 15% 19%
EC householder – brochure/leaflet/reminder card 7% 7% 7%
Radio 7% 7% 6%
Previous elections/past experience 7% 7% 7%
Friends/family/parents 6% 7% 5%
Television 4% 5% 3%
Internet/website (general) 3% 3% 3%
Political parties/candidates 2% 4% 1%
Elections Canada website 2% 3% 1%
None/Did not intend to vote 5% 4% 6%
Other 1% 1% 1%
Don't know/Refused 5% 3% 6%

Nearly all respondents knew that they needed to present proof of identity in order to vote in a federal election (95%). Fewer electors, albeit still a significantly high amount, knew about the proof of address requirement (82%). The high level of knowledge about both the proof of identity requirement and proof of address requirement was consistent in both ridings.

1.3.2 Identification Requirements
Text version of "1.3.2 Identification Requirements"

Previous knowledge/experience (50%) is the most common source of information on these requirements followed by the VIC (34%). Other sources mentioned included previous experience (28%), when the respondent actually voted (22%), newspaper (10%), word of mouth (8%), TV (8%), and radio (6%).

1.3.3 Information Sources  Identification Requirements
Text version of "1.3.3 Information Sources – Identification Requirements"

Close to two in five (39%) electors in Whitby–Oshawa learned about identification requirements from a voter information card, which was significantly higher than in Yellowhead (29%). Both ridings were fairly similar in terms of other sources of information on voting requirements.

Table 1.5: Source of information about voting requirements
Source of information Total Whitby–Oshawa Yellowhead
Previous election/experience/prior knowledge 50% 48% 52%
Voter information card 34% 39% 29%
When I voted 22% 21% 23%
Newspaper 10% 11% 9%
Word of mouth 8% 8% 8%
TV 8% 8% 8%
Radio 6% 7% 6%
EC householder brochure/leaflet/reminder card 5% 5% 4%
Learned it at school 3% 2% 3%
Internet: other websites 2% 2% 2%
Elections Canada website 2% 3% 1%
Other 2% 3% 1%
Don't know/Refused 11% 11% 12%

1.4 Awareness of voting by mail

Knowledge about the possibility to vote by mail was relatively low. Nearly two in five either indicated that they don't know (37%) or said that it wasn't possible (38%). Only one in four (25%) electors was aware of this possibility. There was minimal difference in electors from both ridings in their knowledge about voting option by mail.

1.4 Awareness of Voting by Mail
Text version of "1.4 Awareness of Voting by Mail"

1.5 Voter information card and voter registration

A majority of respondents (87%) said having received their personal voter information card telling them when and where to vote. Respondents from Whitby–Oshawa were more likely to say they received their VIC (90%) than those in Yellowhead (84%).

1.5.1	Voter Information Card Received
Text version of "1.5.1 Voter Information Card Received"

The elector's information on the voter information card was found to be accurate in almost all cases. Among respondents who received their VIC, nearly all claimed both their name (98%) and address (99%) were correct on the card. This was consistent in both ridings and across all demographic groups.

1.5.2	Accuracy of Information on the Voter Information Card
Text version of "1.5.2 Accuracy of Information on the Voter Information Card"

Two thirds (66%) of the respondents who had incorrect information on their voter card took action to rectify the inaccurate information. All young respondents did something to correct the information while only two in five (40%) middle aged and five in ten (52%) older respondents did the same.Footnote 5 Respondents who got the corrections made to their VIC chose to call the phone number indicated on the VIC or the 1-800 number of Elections Canada. The rest of the respondents chose other methods to get the corrections made.

The reason given by respondents who did not make any corrections to the inaccurate information was either because they did not expect to vote anyway or because of some other reason which was not provided.

In addition to providing information on where and when to vote, respondents indicated that the VIC also contained information on advance polls (19%), location of the polling station (11%), date and time of the by-elections (9%), polling station number (8%), voters needing to show ID at the polls (7%), and reminder to vote (5%). More than half (55%) of respondents either did not know or declined to provide a response to this question.

1.5.3	Additional Information on the Voter Information Card
Text version of "1.5.3 Additional Information on the Voter Information Card"

Respondents from Whitby–Oshawa were more likely to remember information about advance polling stations than respondents from Yellowhead (26% and 11%, respectively); Aboriginal electors were less likely to remember it: 5% remembered compared to 19% respondents who were not Aboriginal.

Table 1.6: Contents of voter information card
Source of information Total Whitby–Oshawa Yellowhead
Information about advance polls 19% 26% 11%
Location of polling station/where to vote 11% 12% 10%
Date/time of election/when to vote 9% 10% 8%
Polling station number 8% 7% 8%
Voters need to show ID at the polls 7% 9% 6%
Reminder/Enticement to vote 5% 5% 5%
Elections Canada 1-800 telephone number 2% 2% 3%
Voting by mail/at local Elections Canada office/Special Voting Rules 2% 2% 1%
Names of candidates/party information 2% 1% 2%
How to vote/voting rules/information/regulations 2% 2% 1%
Other 1% 2% 1%
Don't know/Refused 55% 51% 61%

Among those who did not receive their VIC from Elections Canada, about two thirds (64%) did not do anything to find out if they were registered to vote in these by-elections, while some electors knew/assumed they were registered to vote (5%), consulted the Elections Canada website (4%), used social media (3%), relied on word of mouth or asked a family member (3%) or called Elections Canada's 1-800 number (3%).

1.5.4	Information on Voter Registration
Text version of "1.5.4 Information on Voter Registration"

1.6 Interactions with Elections Canada during the campaign

Very few (4%) electors who were aware of the by-elections contacted Elections Canada during the campaign. This trend was found to be consistent in both ridings with almost identical results.

1.6.1 Contacted Elections Canada
Text version of "1.6.1 Contacted Elections Canada"

Among the very few respondents who contacted EC, three in four (75%) fully got the information they needed while 7% got it partially and 16% did not get the information they were looking for.

1.6.2	Received the Required Information from Elections Canada
Text version of "1.6.2 Received the Required Information from Elections Canada"


Footnote 4 Elections Canada does not use television advertising during by-elections, suggesting recall error among those who mentioned it.

Footnote 5 It is important to note that only respondents who had wrong information on their VIC were asked this question. This resulted in a very small group of respondents who provided their response (n=10). Caution should be used while interpreting these results.