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Survey of Electors Following the 41st General Election

Appendix 4: Immigrants and Ethno-cultural Groups

This section addresses issues related to electors born outside Canada and members of ethno-cultural groups in relation to voting. Footnote 25

Electors Born Outside Canada

Overall, the immigrant population surveyed is similar to the population of those born in Canada in terms of voting behaviour and attitudes.

Electors born outside Canada did differ from those born in Canada in terms of certain communication mediums used to learn about the election. They were less likely to get information on voting procedures from the Voter Information Card (58% vs. 68% born in Canada). Of those who recalled an Elections Canada advertisement during the campaign, electors born outside Canada were more likely to have done so through a newspaper (52% vs. 39% born in Canada) and less likely to have viewed the ad on television (43% vs. 53% born in Canada). Similarly, of those who recalled hearing or seeing the slogan "Vote! Shape your World", the likelihood of having done so on television was lower amongst those born outside Canada than those born in Canada (39% vs. 54%). Immigrant electors were more likely to be aware of the possibility of voting by mail (50% vs. 41% born in Canada).

Electors born outside Canada were more likely to express strong satisfaction with Elections Canada staff at the polling station (92% vs. 87% born in Canada). Levels of satisfaction with other aspects of voting, however, were comparable between immigrants and the general population, including distance to the polls, waiting time to vote, and perceived adequacy of directional signs.

Non-voters born outside Canada were more likely to say that they would have voted online had it been possible to do so (71% vs. 54% born in Canada). In terms of their technological profile, immigrant electors show little difference from the rest of the population.

Ethno-Cultural Groups

Electors belonging to an ethno-cultural group (other than Caucasian and Aboriginal) were less likely to report having voted in the 2011 general election than the general population (77% vs. 84%). They were also less likely to report having voted in the 2008 election (78% vs. 87%), their last provincial election (67% vs. 79%), and their last municipal election (58% vs. 67%). In terms of their reasons for not voting, members of ethno-cultural groups were more likely than the general population to cite their work/school schedule (24% vs. 13%) and a lack of identification documents (6% vs. 1%). Members of ethno-cultural groups were no more or less likely to be interested in politics or to have followed the campaign closely.

In terms of communication of voting procedures and information, members of ethno-cultural groups were less likely to recall receiving a Voter Information Card (86% vs. 91% of the general population) and less likely to have noticed an advertisement from Elections Canada during the campaign (32% vs. 40%).

In terms of their voting experience and perceptions, members of ethno-cultural groups were generally comparable to the overall population. Exceptions to this comparability included ethno-cultural groups being less likely to think there were sufficient directional signs inside the voting building (90% vs. 95%) and less likely to have a high level of trust in the election results in their riding (82% vs. 88%).

Members of ethno-cultural groups differed from the general population with regards to their technological profile, in that they were more likely to have Internet at home (93% vs. 86%) to have a smart phone (39% vs. 26%), to use instant messaging (48% vs. 37%), and to discuss politics online (26% vs. 18%). Despite this, non-voters from ethno-cultural groups were less likely to say that they would have voted online had it been possible to do so (14% vs. 32%).

Better Communication, Variety of Language—Top Suggestion to Encourage Ethno-Cultural Groups to Vote

Electors who identified their ethnic background as other than Caucasian were asked what should be done, if anything, to encourage people from their community to vote in federal elections.Footnote 26 The top suggestion (excluding Aboriginals), with one in five (20%) mentioning it, was better communication/variety of language. Other suggestions mentioned include culturally-specific advertising/campaigning (10%), education on the voting process (7%), and general encouragement to vote (7%). The majority (53%) offered no suggestion to encourage ethno-cultural groups to vote.

Means of Encouraging Ethno-Cultural Groups to Vote graph
Text description of "Means of Encouraging Ethno-Cultural Groups to Vote" graph

Youth belonging to an ethno-cultural group were more likely to mention better communication/variety of language (29% vs. 20%), culturally-specific advertising/campaigning (32% vs. 10%), education on the voting process (13% vs. 7%), and encouragement to vote (13% vs. 7%), while being less likely to choose not to respond (25% vs. 53%).


Footnote 25 The analysis provided is not based on specific ethno-cultural groups, but rather all ethno-cultural groups other than Caucasian and Aboriginal. As a result, some group-specific differences may be compounded in the aggregation process.

Footnote 26 The question was also posed to Aboriginal electors. However, the results for this subgroup are analyzed separately and are excluded from the section on electors belonging to ethno-cultural groups.