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Survey of Electors Following the 41st General Election

Voter Information

This section explores the sources through which voters receive information about the election and the voting process. Questions in this section were addressed to all electors aware of the May 2011 federal election.

Main Source of Information on Voting Procedures – VIC

All those who said they were aware of the May 2011 federal election were asked to identify where they obtained information on voting procedures for this election (i.e. when and where to vote and how to prove their identity and address before voting). The Voter Information Card was identified most often and by a considerable margin, with two-thirds (66%) mentioning it. Nearly one in ten (8%) mentioned a brochure or flyer received from Elections Canada (multiple responses accepted), and 3% mentioned the Elections Canada website.

Following this, respondents were most likely to identify television (12%) and newspapers (11%). Other sources mentioned include personal experience or prior knowledge (9%), radio (8%), friends/family/parents (7%), and non-Elections Canada Internet sources (2%). A host of other sources of information were identified by small numbers (2% or less), including word of mouth, unspecified pamphlets and brochures, work/school, signs/ posters/billboards, and revising agents, amongst others.

Sources of Information on Voting Procedures graph
Text description of "Sources of Information on Voting Procedures" graph

Aboriginal and youth electors were much less likely than the general population to identify the Voter Information Card as the way they learned about voting procedures (41/43% vs. 66%). Conversely, they were more likely to identify friends, family, and parents: 12% of Aboriginals and 35% of youth, as opposed to only 7% of the general population. Aboriginals were also more likely to identify television (17% vs. 12% of the general population), while youth were more likely to mention the Internet, both Elections Canada's Web site (8% vs. 3%) and other Web sites (6% vs. 2%).

Sociodemographic differences

The likelihood of getting information on voting procedures from the Voter Information Card was lower amongst:

  • Electors born outside Canada (58% vs. 68% born in Canada).
  • Students (51%), followed by the unemployed (55% vs. 66‑68% of others).
  • Electors with high school education or less (57%), followed by those with some university (64% vs. 70‑72% of others).
  • Electors with household incomes less than $40,000 (60% vs. 68‑71% of others).
  • Anglophones (64% vs. 74% of Francophones).
  • Men (63% vs. 70% of women).
  • Electors who are not interested in politics (57% vs. 69% of those who are interested).
  • Electors who did not follow the campaign closely (57% vs. 70% who did).
  • Those who said they did not vote (45% vs. 70% of those who said they did).

Students were the most likely to cite friends/family/parents (29% vs. 3‑14% of others) and the Elections Canada Web site (21% vs. 1‑4%).

The Voter Information Card remains the most frequently-cited source of information on voting procedures across the 2006, 2008, and 2011 general elections. In 2011, a greater proportion of electors mentioned it than in 2008 (66% in 2011 vs. 61% in 2008), raising it again to the same proportion as in 2006 (66%).

Sources of Information on Voting Procedures (Over Time)
Q48: Where did you get the information on voting procedures for this election? By that I mean, when and where to vote and how to prove your identity and address before voting.
  2006 2008 2011
Voter Information Card 66% 61% 66%
Television 10% 19% 12%
Newspapers 9% 19% 11%
Personal Experience 1% 3% 9%
EC brochure -- 10% 8%
Radio 4% 12% 8%
Friends/Family Parents 7% 8% 7%

Personal experience gained in prominence as a source of information on voting procedures (9% in 2011 vs. 3% in 2008; 1% in 2006). Television, newspapers, and radio declined in prominence since 2008, but still remain more frequently-cited than in 2006.

Strong Minority Recall EC Advertisement

Four in ten (40%) said they noticed an advertisement from Elections Canada about the general election, whereas half did not remember any such advertisement. Nearly one in ten (9%) did not know or did not respond.Footnote 9Recall of EC Advertisement About Election graph
Text description of "Recall of EC Advertisement About Election" graph

Sociodemographic differences

The likelihood of reporting having noticed an ad from Elections Canada during the campaign was higher amongst:

  • Electors 65 and over (48% vs. 36‑41% of younger electors).
  • Anglophones (42% vs. 33% of Francophones).
  • Women (44% vs. 37% of men).
  • Electors who are interested in politics (43% vs. 26% who are not).
  • Electors who followed the campaign closely (45% vs. 26% who did not).
  • Those who said they voted (42% vs. 31% who said they did not).

Most Recall Advertisement from Mass Media

Mass media sources were identified most often as the medium through which those who recalled the Elections Canada advertisement saw or heard it. Approximately half (51%) recalled the ad on television, 40% in the newspaper, and 17% on the radio.

Less than one in ten identified brochures or pamphlets received in the mail (8%) or signs/posters/billboards (8%). Relatively few (4%) recalled the ad online. Other specified locations, identified by less than 2% each, include the telephone, word of mouth, family/friends, and candidates.

Youth were more likely than the general population to recall the Elections Canada ad on television (62% vs. 51%) and less likely to recall it from newspapers (11% vs. 40%). Aboriginals did not differ significantly from the general population.

Location of Recalled Advertisement graph
Text description of "Location of Recalled Advertisement" graph

Sociodemographic differences

The likelihood of noticing the ad on television was higher amongst:

  • Electors born in Canada (53% vs. 43% born outside of Canada).
  • Students (60% vs. 51‑53% of others).
  • Francophones (70% vs. 47% of Anglophones).
  • Men (55% vs. 47% of women).
  • Electors who did not follow the campaign closely (67% vs. 48% who did).
  • Those who said they did not vote (65% vs. 50% who said they did).

The likelihood of noticing the ad in the newspaper was higher amongst:

  • Electors born outside of Canada (52% vs. 39% born in Canada).
  • Electors staying at home full-time (52% vs. 13‑37% of others).
  • Anglophones (45% vs. 22% of Francophones).
  • Electors who are interested in politics (42% vs. 30% who are not interested).
  • Electors who followed the campaign closely (44% vs. 22% who did not).
  • Those who said they did vote (43% vs. 23% who said they did not vote).

Election Date, Reminder to Vote – Top Messages Recalled from Advertisement

Of those who recalled having noticed an advertisement from Elections Canada during the campaign, 20% recalled it mentioning the election date (for regular and advance polls). Remembered with nearly as much frequency (18%) was a reminder/enticement to vote.

Substance of Recalled EC Advertisement graph
Text description of "Substance of Recalled EC Advertisement" graph

Following this, roughly one in ten recalled the advertisement specifying that voters must prove their identity and/or address (11%), or where to go to vote (10%). Smaller numbers identified the ad mentioning aspects of the voting process (4%), voting hours (including for advance polls) (4%), general election information (3%), information on candidates/parties (3%), and special voting rules (2%). Identified as "other" are elements remembered by less than 2%, including a telephone number, the website, information on voting at the local Elections Canada office, and the option to vote by mail.

Nearly a quarter (23%) of those who said they recalled an advertisement from Elections Canada during the campaign did not identify any particular message of the ad that they could recall.

Sociodemographic differences

The likelihood of being unable to recall what the ad talked about was highest amongst those not interested in politics (35% vs. 22% who are interested), those who did not follow the campaign closely (30% vs. 21% who did), and those with high school education or less (30% vs. 16‑23%).

Most Unaware of Elections Canada Slogan, "Vote! Shape your World"

Approximately three-quarters (76%) of those aware of the election had not heard or seen the slogan, "Vote! Shape your world". Conversely, 15% reported being aware of the slogan, while 9% were unsure.Awareness of Slogan, 'Vote! Shape your World' graph
Text description of "Awareness of Slogan, 'Vote! Shape your World'" graph

Youth were more likely than the general population to recall the slogan (24% vs. 15%), while Aboriginals were more likely to say they had not heard or seen the slogan (82% vs. 76%).

Sociodemographic differences

The likelihood of having heard or seen the slogan "Vote! Shape your world" was higher amongst:

  • Students (24% vs. 13‑19% of others).
  • Electors with high school education or less (18% vs. 13‑14% of others).
  • Electors with household incomes under $40,000 (19% vs. 12‑16% with higher incomes).
  • Francophones (20% vs. 13% of Anglophones).

Most Recall Slogan from Mass Media

Of those who said they had seen or heard the slogan, "Vote! Shape Your World", most did so through mass media. More than half said they noticed the slogan on television (52%), 18% identified radio, and 15% mentioned newspapers.

Beyond the mass media, 13% identified signs/posters/billboards, while smaller numbers said they noticed the slogan online (5%), in brochures/pamphlets in the mail (3%), and through word of mouth (2%). Other mediums, identified by less than 2%, include ads in general, campaign ads, and magazines.

Medium of Recalled Slogan graph
Text description of "Medium of Recalled Slogan" graph

Sociodemographic differences

The likelihood of hearing or seeing the slogan on television was higher amongst electors born in Canada (54% vs. 39% born outside Canada) and Francophones (64% vs. 46% of Anglophones).

The likelihood of seeing the slogan in the newspaper was higher among:

  • Elector 65 and over (22%) and 45‑64 (19% vs. 8‑12% of younger groups).
  • Electors with a university degree (23% vs. 10‑15% of others).
  • Men (20% vs. 11% of women).
  • Electors who are interested in politics (18% vs. 5% who are not).
  • Those who said they voted (17% vs. 7% who said they did not vote).
  • Electors who followed the campaign closely (17% vs. 9% who did not).

Recall of EC Brochure

About half (53%) of those who were aware of the election did not recall having received, by mail, a brochure from Elections Canada during the campaign. Conversely, just over one-third (34%) did recall the brochure, while 12% were uncertain.

Recall of EC Brochure graph
Text description of "Recall of EC Brochure" graph

Aboriginal electors were more likely than the general population to remember receiving the brochure (46% vs. 34%), while youth were more likely to not recall the brochure (61% vs. 53%).

Sociodemographic differences

The likelihood of recalling the Elections Canada brochure was higher amongst:

  • Electors 65 and over (45%), followed by those aged 45‑64 (37% vs. 27‑30% of younger groups).
  • Electors who stay at home full-time (43%), followed by those who are unemployed (40% vs. 32‑32% of others).
  • Electors with a disability (43% vs. 34% of others).
  • Electors with high school education or less (42% vs. 28‑34% of those more educated).
  • Electors with household incomes less than $60,000 (39/40% vs. 27‑32% of those with larger incomes).
  • Electors living in rural locations (38% vs. 33% living in urban locations).
  • Those who followed the campaign closely (36% vs. 30% who did not).

These results indicate a decrease in elector recall of the Elections Canada brochure compared to 2008, when just under half (48%) recalled the brochure.Footnote 10

Recall of Brochure (over time) graph
Text description of "Recall of Brochure (over time)" graph

Main Information Recalled from Brochure – ID/Address Requirements, Election Date

All electors who recalled receiving the Elections Canada brochure were asked to identify what the brochure talked about. The largest number, by far, indicated that they could not recall anything specific in terms of the brochure's content (51%). In terms of recalled content, 16% said the brochure provided information on where to vote, 15% identified the identification and address requirements associated with voting, 13% said it provided the date of the election, and 12% said it offered a reminder/enticement to vote.

Aboriginal electors were less likely than the general population to have noticed the information about the voter ID requirements (7% vs. 15%).

Substance of Recalled EC Brochure graph
Text description of "Substance of Recalled EC Brochure" graph

Less than one in ten said the brochure provided information on the voting process (9%), and voting hours (6%). A range of other items were recalled by relatively small numbers and are presented in the graph below. Other items recalled from the brochure by less than 2% include information about a democratic right to vote, how to get assistance getting to the polls, and the accessibility of English and French-language service.

That a small proportion (4%) thought the brochure included information on candidates/parties suggests that some respondents confused the Elections Canada brochure with campaign material put out by political parties or candidates.

Sociodemographic differences

The likelihood of being unable to recall any substantive aspect of the brochure was higher amongst:

  • Electors with high school education or less (58% vs. 44‑50% of others).
  • Francophones (61% vs. 46% of Anglophones).
  • Electors who are not interested in politics (62% vs. 47% who are interested).
  • Electors who followed the campaign closely (62% vs. 46% who did not).
  • Those who said they did not vote (63% vs. 49% who said they did vote).

Limited Need for Additional Information

Relatively few eligible electors aware of the election (6%) said that there was information about the voting process that they did not have and would have been useful to them before going to vote. Information of this nature included more information on candidates, the need for voters to prove their ID/address when voting, special voting rules, where to vote, voting hours, and the election date, amongst others. Equal proportions (46% each) said that there is no such information or did not know.

Missing Information About Voting Process graph
Text description of "Missing Information About Voting Process" graph

Aboriginals were less likely to indicate that there was no information missing that they would have found useful (37% vs. 46% of the general population). Youth were roughly comparable to the general population in this regard.

Few Contacted Elections Canada During Campaign

Few eligible voters who were aware of general election (6%) said they contacted Elections Canada for any reason during the campaign. Conversely, 94% said they had not contacted the agency during the election. These results represent a slight increase compared to 2008 (4%), but a slight decline from 2006 (8%).Contact with Elections Canada During Campaign graph
Text description of "Contact with Elections Canada During Campaign" graph

Of those who did contact Elections Canada (n=194), the great majority (87%) said they received all of the information or assistance they needed. An additional 5% said they obtained part of what they needed, while an equal proportion (5%) reported that they did not get what they needed. Two percent did not know or did not respond.

Sociodemographic differences

The likelihood of contacting Elections Canada during the campaign was highest amongst students (15% vs. 4‑9% of others) and electors who followed the campaign closely (7% vs. 2% who did not).


Footnote 9 It is not possible to compare the 2011 findings with previous studies because the measurement approach has changed in 2011. In previous studies, awareness of an Elections Canada ad has been measured separately for television, radio and newspapers ads. In 2011, respondents were asked globally if they had noticed an Elections Canada ad during the campaign, and if so, where.

Footnote 10 In 2008, recall was measured as either aided or unaided; 48% represents the combination of unaided and aided recall.