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Survey of Candidates of the 41st Federal General Election

Use & Perceptions of Elections Canada Services and Products

This section explores issues related to the services and products provided to candidates and their campaigns by Elections Canada during the election.

Almost Four in Ten Candidates Attended "All Candidates Briefing" In-Person

Close to four in ten candidates attended the "all candidates briefing" organized by the returning officer. They either attended alone (22%) or were accompanied by a representative (15%). Conversely, one-quarter (24%) did not have anyone on their team attend the meeting, and the rest sent someone on their behalf. This included a campaign manager (18%), official agent (13%), both their agent and campaign manager (3%), or some other representative (3%).

Attendedance at 'All Candidates Briefing'

Text version of graph "Attendance at 'All Candidates Briefing'".

Overall, attendance remains strong over time, with 74% of candidates attending the briefing either in-person or via a campaign representative sent on their behalf (compared to 75% in 2008). That said, in-person candidate attendance has decreased somewhat (37% in 2011 compared to 47% in 2008).

Sociodemographic Differences

Compared to 37% overall, candidates were more likely to attend the "all candidates briefing" alone if they were: under 30 years (31%), first-time candidates (25%) or, male (24%). Those who ended up not being elected were also more likely to attend (23%). In addition, the likelihood of attending the briefing in person was higher among those satisfied with the administration of the election (24%), the performance of the returning officer (24%), and the quality of service from Elections Canada (23%).

Most Found "All Candidates Briefing" Useful

Four in five (81%) of those who attended the "all candidates briefing" in-person or sent a representative on their behalf (n=745) found it to be useful. Candidates, however, were much more likely to characterize the briefing as moderately useful (53%) rather than very (28%) useful. Relatively few did not find the briefing useful (13%), with 11% saying it was not very useful and 2% not at all useful.

Perceptions have changed little since 2008 when 83% said the "all candidates briefing" was useful.

Perceived Usefulness of 'All Candidates Briefing'

Text version of graph "Perceived Usefulness of 'All Candidates Briefing'".

Sociodemographic Differences

Anglophone candidates were more likely to consider the briefing useful (87% vs. 70% of Francophone candidates), as did those who were satisfied with the administration of the election (87%), the performance of the returning officer (85%), and the overall quality of service from Elections Canada (84%).

Local Elections Canada Office, Website Most Widely Used Information Services

Many candidates or their representatives availed themselves of at least one of three Elections Canada information sources during the election. More than four in five sought information from the Elections Canada website (www.elections.ca) (84%) or the local Elections Canada office (82%). Elections Canada's 1-800 support line for candidates was used far less often (42%).

Use of Information Services During Election

Text version of graph "Use of Information Services During Election".

The only noteworthy change over time has been the decline in candidate's use of the 1-800 support line (42% vs. 48% in 2008).

Sociodemographic Differences

When it comes to use of the local Elections Canada office, candidates who were elected (90% vs. 81% of those not elected) and those who attended the "all candidates briefing" (86% vs. 68% of those who did not send a representative) were more likely to have used this information service. Use of the Elections Canada website was higher among candidates from Ontario (87%) compared to those in Quebec (81%) and increased as age decreased, from 81% of candidates 50 years and older to 90% of those under 30. Those satisfied with the overall administration of the election and the quality of service received from Elections Canada were more inclined to have used the website (87% and 86% respectively) and their local Elections Canada office (83% and 84% respectively).

Candidates Requested Information for Variety of Reasons

Candidates and their representatives who used one or more of Elections Canada's information services (n=956) reported doing so for a wide variety of reasons. By far, however, the main purpose, cited by 37% of candidates, was to obtain general clarification or information. Beyond this, 19% requested information about the location of polling stations, 14% about election procedures and/or regulations, and 11% about financial information.

Purpose of Information Request(s)

Text version of graph "Purpose of Information Request(s)".

Compared to 2008, there has been a noticeable increase in the likelihood of seeking general clarification/information (37% vs. 12% in 2008). There has also been an increase in the likelihood of seeking information on polling station location (19% vs. 6% in 2008), and election procedures/regulations (14% vs. 7% in 2008). Conversely, there has been a decrease in the likelihood of seeking clarification on provisions of the Act (4% vs. 10% in 2008).

As well, numerous other reasons were offered by fewer than one in ten. For the most part, most of the information requests can be grouped into the following broad themes:

Purpose of candidates information requests (2011 general election)

Candidate Administration

Voting

Election Materials

General Information/Clarifications

Most Satisfied with Information Obtained

In total, 83% of candidates who used Elections Canada information services were satisfied with the information they (or their representatives) obtained. Notably, 45% said they were very satisfied. As well, a further 10% reported being neutral, and 5% expressed dissatisfaction.

Satisfaction has increased slightly since 2008 when 79% of candidates were satisfied with the information.

Satisfaction with Information Obtained

Text version of graph "Satisfaction with Information Obtained".

Sociodemographic Differences

Compared to candidates from Ontario (81%) and the Prairies (77%), those from Quebec (88%) appeared to be more satisfied with the information they obtained from Elections Canada's information services. The likelihood of being satisfied with the information was higher among candidates who were satisfied with the administration of the election (89%), the overall quality of service received from Elections Canada (89%), and the performance of the returning officer (86%).

Widespread Recall of All Candidate Documents

A majority of candidates recalled receiving documents from their returning officer. Most remembered having received voters' lists (92%), the authorisation forms for representative appointments (85%), and the Guidelines for Candidates' Representatives (84%). Fewer, but still strong majorities of candidates remembered receiving a copy of the Canada Elections Act (74%) and the Multimedia Kit for Federal Political Entities (70%).

Compared to 2008, recall of most of the various candidate documents has changed little (by no more than one percentage point). That being said, there has been a notable decline in recall of the Canada Elections Act, from 81% in 2008 to 74% in 2011, and a slight increase in recall of the Multimedia Kit, from 67% in 2008 to 70% in 2011).

Recall of Candidate Documents

Text version of graph "Recall of Candidate Documents".

Sociodemographic Differences

Candidates from Quebec were more likely to recall having received a copy of the Canada Elections Act (82%), the Multimedia Kit for Federal Political Entities (77%), and the Voters' lists (96%). As well:

  • Those under 30 were more likely to recall the Multimedia Kit (83%)

  • Men were more apt to recall the Guidelines for Candidates' Representatives (86%)

  • Candidates who were elected were more likely to recall the voters' lists (96%)

  • Candidates 50+ years were more likely to recall the authorisation forms (88%).

Finally, recall of most of the documents was higher among candidates who were satisfied with the administration of the election, the returning officer, and Elections Canada, as well as among those who attended the "all candidates briefing", either in-person or via a representative sent on their behalf.

Strong Minority Used CEO Letter to Facilitate Public AccessFootnote 8

In total, 45% of candidates reported having used the letter signed by the Chief Electoral Officer to facilitate access to public places by candidates and their campaign workers. Among the rest, 49% did not use the CEO letter and 3% volunteered that they were not aware of it.

The proportion of candidates who claimed to have used the CEO letter was greater in 2011 (45% vs. 40% in 2008).

Use of CEO Letter

Text version of graph "Use of CEO Letter".

Sociodemographic Differences

Region had an impact on use of the CEO letter. Compared to candidates from Ontario (55%) and British Columbia (49%), those from Quebec (37%) and the Prairies (38%) were less likely to say they used the letter during the campaign.

Four in Five Used Polling Division Maps, Paper Format Dominated

Four in five (81%) candidates used maps of polling divisions in at least one of the two available formats. More specifically, 47% used the paper format only, 25% used the CD format only, and 9% used both formats. Fifteen percent volunteered that they did not use the polling division maps.

Use of the maps in electronic format has increased, from 28% in 2008 to 34% in 2011.

Format of Polling Division Maps Used Most Often

Text version of graph "Format of Polling Division Map Used Most Often".

Sociodemographic Differences

Use of the paper format was more likely among candidates from Atlantic Canada (60%) and men (49%). Conversely, the following were more inclined to use the CD-ROM format: candidates from Quebec (28%), British Columbia (28%), and Ontario (27%), as well as candidates running for the second time (31%), who were not elected (26%), and who represented a HOC-party (26%).

Minority Used "GeoExplore"

Close to one-quarter (23%) of candidates said they used the web mapping tool "GeoExplore" that was provided to them by Elections Canada. Conversely, the majority, 61%, did not use "GeoExplore". In addition, 7% claimed to be unaware of the web mapping tool.

Use of "GeoExplore" has increased slightly since 2008, from 19% to 23%.

Use of 'GeoExplore'

Text version of graph "Use of GeoExplore".

Sociodemographic Differences

The likelihood of using "GeoExplore" increased with age (from 17% to 27%) and was higher among candidates in Atlantic Canada (28%), Quebec (27%), and Ontario (24%) compared to the Prairies (15%), as well as among those who attended the "all candidates briefing" (26% vs. 13% among those who did not).

Seven in Ten Interested in Using "GeoExplore" in Future

Seven in ten (72%) candidates who did not use or were not aware of "GeoExplore" (n=775) expressed interest in using it for future elections, which represents a lower rate than what was noted in the 2008 baseline survey (84%). One in ten said they would not and 1% volunteered that they do not plan to run in the next election (17% were uncertain or chose not to answer).

Interest in 'GeoExplore' for Future Elections

Text version of graph "Interest in GeoExplore for Future Elections".

Sociodemographic Differences

The likelihood of expressing interest in using "GeoExplore" in the future increased as age decreased, from 69% of candidates 50 years of age and older to 79% of those under 30. Interest was also higher among first- and second-time candidates and those who ended up not being elected.

Majority Used Voters' Lists

The majority (64%) of candidates used the various voters' lists provided by Elections Canada (i.e. preliminary lists of electors, the revised lists, and the official lists). Conversely, one-third did not use the lists. This represents a slight decline in use since 2008 when 68% of candidates claimed to use the voters' lists.

Use of Voters' Lists

Text version of graph "Use of Voters' Lists".

Sociodemographic Differences

Compared to candidates in British Columbia (56%), those from Atlantic Canada (72%) and Quebec (67%) were more likely to have used the voters' lists. The likelihood of using the various voters' lists increased with age, from 48% of those under 30 to 67% of those 50 years and older, and was higher among candidates who were elected (83%), those endorsed by a party represented in the House of Commons (70%), and those who attended the "all candidates meeting" (72%).

Voter Identification/Verification Most Frequent Use of Voters' Lists

Candidates who used the voters' lists (n=650) were more inclined to have done so for voter identification and verification. Mentioned more than twice as often as any other reason, voter identification and verification was the reason 49% of candidates used the voters' lists. Following this, much smaller proportions said they used the lists for door-to-door canvassing (21%), for reference/general information (20%), and for calling electors to encourage them to vote, including offering transportation (17%). Eleven percent said they used the lists for data matching.

Specific Uses of Voters' Lists

Text version of graph "Specific Uses of Voters' Lists".

All other reasons were offered by 3% or less and included things like the following: contacting/communicating with electors, determining voter support locations, mailing materials to electors, locating ethnic groups, and checking voter populations.

Sociodemographic Differences

The likelihood of using the voters' lists for voter identification/verification was highest among candidates from Quebec, where 60% pointed to this as the reason they used the lists.

Majority Perceive Information Regarding List Quality to be Adequate

The majority (64%) of candidates felt that the information provided to them by Elections Canada regarding the quality of the preliminary voters' lists was adequate. That said, candidates were twice as likely to say the information was moderately adequate (43%) rather than very (21%) adequate. Of the rest, one in ten reported that the information was not adequate and one-quarter offered no opinion as they were either unsure (19%) or did not receive this information from the returning officer (5%).

Perceptions have changed little over time. In 2008, 61% said the information about list quality provided to them was at least moderately adequate (compared to 64% in 2011).

Adequacy of Information about Quality of Lists

Text version of graph "Adequacy of Information about Quality of Lists".

Sociodemographic Differences

Men were more likely than women to say the information about the list quality was adequate (67% vs. 60%). The same was true of those candidates who said they were satisfied with the administration of the election (67%) and with the quality of service provided by Elections Canada (68%), as well as those who attended the "all candidates briefing" (67%).

Majority Satisfied With Overall Quality of Voters' Lists

More than half of surveyed candidates (58%) reported being satisfied with the overall quality of the voters' lists provided by Elections Canada. Almost one-quarter (23%) were neither satisfied nor dissatisfied, and 6% expressed dissatisfaction. Satisfaction has increased slightly over time, from 55% in 2008 to 58% in 2011.

Satisfaction With Overall Quality of Voters' Lists

Text version of graph "Satisfaction with Overall Quality of Voters' Lists".

Sociodemographic Differences

The likelihood of being satisfied with the quality of the lists was higher among candidates from Quebec (70%), those who attended the "all candidates" briefing (61%), as well as those who were satisfied with the administration of the election (64%), the service provided by Elections Canada (64%), and the performance of the returning officer in their riding (61%).

Most Took Measures to Protect Personal Information on Voters' Lists

Most candidates (87%) reported taking measures to protect the personal information contained on the voters' lists they received. Only 9% said their campaign team took no measures to protect such information.

The use of measures to protect personal information is virtually unchanged since 2008 when 86% of candidates reported having done so.

Use of Measures to Protect Personal Information on Voters' Lists

Text version of graph "Use of Measures to Protect Personal Information on Voters' Lists".

Sociodemographic Differences

The likelihood of taking measures to ensure the protection of personal information contained in the voters' lists was higher among first- and second-time candidates (88-89% respectively) than those with three or more candidacies (81%) and higher among those who attended the "all candidates briefing" (89%).

Range of Measures Taken to Protect Private Information on Voters' Lists

The most common measure taken to protect personal information on the voters' lists (n=874) was to have controlled access to the lists, either by keeping the lists in a secure place and/or locked them away (46%), limiting access to the candidate, the campaign manager or official agent (34%) or in general (21%), issuing instructions for use (5%), and storing the files on a password-protected computer (2%).

Measures Taken to Protect Voters' Lists

Text version of graph "Measures Taken to Protect Voters' Lists".

Other measures focused on managing the lists post-election, including ensuring their destruction at the end of the election (28%), bringing them back to the returning officer (3%), and issuing procedures to collect copies of the list (2%).

Almost Half Used "Bingo Card", Majority Found Card Useful

Almost half (49%) the candidates surveyed reported using the "Bingo CardFootnote 9". This represents a significant decline from 2008 when 67% had reported using it.Footnote 10

The majority of "Bingo Card" users (n=489) found the tool to be very (42%) or moderately (24%) useful. Of the rest, 15% held a neutral view, and 15% thought the "Bingo Card" was not useful.

Perceived Usefulness of 'Bingo card'

Text version of graph "Perceived Usefulness of 'Bingo Card'".

Sociodemographic Differences

The likelihood of perceiving the card to be useful was highest among those elected in the 2011 general election (81%). Conversely, compared to older candidates, those under 30 years of age were less likely to attribute value to the "Bingo Card" (51% vs. 66-70%).

Accessibility

The 2011 survey significantly expanded the number of questions related to polling location accessibility.

Moderate Satisfaction with Directional Signage and Accessibility of Polling Station

Four in five candidates were satisfied with the number of signs inside the building that indicated to electors where to go to vote. Following this, almost two-thirds (65%) expressed satisfaction with the number of signs outside the building that pointed to the entrance of the polling centre, and exactly half were satisfied with the number of signs that indicated the polling centre had level access for wheelchairs. Those not satisfied were more likely to be neutral or to not know or remember anything about the directional signage or accessibility.

Relatively few candidates expressed clear dissatisfaction on any of these signage-related issues. Specifically, 11% were dissatisfied with the number of signs indicating that the polling centre had level access for wheelchairs, 10% were dissatisfied with the number of signs outside the building pointing to the entrance of the polling centre, and 4% were dissatisfied with the number of signs inside the building indicating to electors where to go to vote.

Satisfaction with Directional Signage and Accessibility of Polling Station

Text version of graph "Satisfaction with Directional Signage and Accessibility of Polling Station".

Sociodemographic Differences

The likelihood of being satisfied with the directional signage and accessibility of polling stations was higher among those who were satisfied with the administration of the election, the service provided by Elections Canada, and the performance of the returning officer in their riding.


Footnote 8 Candidates were told the following before being asked this question, and the remaining ones in the section: "For the following questions, we refer to you personally, but they could also include anyone from your campaign team if you had one".

Footnote 9 Respondents were read the following if they asked what this was: "This refers to the new form used to record the identifier number of electors who came to vote that was provided to the candidates or their representatives on a regular basis".

Footnote 10 This tool was used for the first time in a federal general election in 2008.