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Survey of Electors Following the 41st General Election

Voter Participation

This section presents respondent feedback on issues related to voter participation, including the method used to vote and awareness of the possibility of voting by mail.

Most Voted on Election Day at Polling Station

The large majority (80%) of respondents who said they voted in the federal election reported having voted at a polling station on election day. That said, 17% reported having used advance polls, while 2% voted at a local Elections Canada office. Fewer than 1% reported voting by mail or at mobile polls.

A smaller proportion of voters reported voting at a polling station on election day in 2011 (80%) than in 2008 (87%). Conversely, 2011 saw an increase in the proportion of voters who voted at the advance polls (17% vs. 11%).Method Used to Vote graph
Text description of "Method Used to Vote" graph

Sociodemographic differences

The likelihood of voting at the advance polls was highest amongst:

  • Those aged 65 and over (25% vs. 12‑18% of others).
  • Those who stay at home full-time (24% vs. 14‑16% of others).
  • Those with high school education or less (20%) and those with university degrees (19% vs. 14% of others).
  • Those who live in urban locations (19% vs. 14%).
  • Electors who are interested in politics (18% vs. 13% who are not).
  • Electors who followed the election closely (18% vs. 13% who did not).

The likelihood of voting at the polling station on election day was highest amongst:

  • Students (86% vs. 72% of others)
  • Employed electors (84% vs. 78% of unemployed electors).
  • Electors who are not interested in politics (86% vs. 79% who are interested).
  • Electors who did not follow the campaign closely (85% vs. 79% who did).

Majority Unaware of Possibility of Voting by Mail

Respondents aware of the 2011 federal election were asked if they knew that it is possible to vote by mail at any time during a federal election. A majority (57%) said they were not aware of this, while 43% said they were aware of it.

Youth were less likely than the general population to be aware of the possibility of voting by mail (35% vs. 43%). Aboriginals were roughly comparable to the general population in this regard (47% vs. 43%).16 This represents an increase in awareness of the option to vote by mail in 2011 over 2008 (43% vs. 35%).Knowledge of Option to Vote by Mail graph
Text description of "Knowledge of Option to Vote by Mail" graph

Sociodemographic differences

The likelihood of knowing that it is possible to vote by mail was lowest amongst:

  • Electors born in Canada (41% vs. 50% from another country of origin).
  • Francophones (36% vs. 45% of Anglophones).
  • Women (40% vs. 46% of men).
  • Electors who are not interested in politics (32% vs. 45% of those who are).
  • Electors who did not follow the campaign closely (31% vs. 47% of those who did).
  • Those who said they did not vote in the 2011 election (24% vs. 46% who said they did).

Additionally, awareness was higher among electors who stay at home full-time (51% vs. 39‑46% of others) and electors with household incomes less than $40,000 (46% vs. 39‑41% of others).

There was a positive relationship between age and the likelihood of knowing about the option to vote by mail. Thirty-five percent of electors under 25 were aware of the option, compared with 39% between 25 and 44, 41% between 45 and 64, and 57% of those 65 and over.

Most Brought Voter Information Card to Polls

The large majority of voters (83%) brought their Voter Information Card with them when they went to vote.17 Conversely, 16% did not. These results are unchanged since the 2008 election.

The likelihood of having brought their Voter Information Card to the polls was lower amongst Aboriginals (69%) and youth (63%) than amongst the general population of electors (83%).Brought Voter Information Card to Polls graph
Text description of "Brought Voter Information Card to Polls" graph

Sociodemographic differences

The likelihood of bringing one's Voter Information Card to the polls was highest amongst electors who stay at home full-time (88% vs. 67‑83% of others) and electors with a disability (91% vs. 83% of others).

The likelihood of bringing the Voter Information Card increased with age. Sixty-three percent of those under 25 brought their Voter Information Card to the polls, compared with 82% of those 25‑44, 87% of those 45‑64, and 90% of those 65 and over.


Footnote 16 The proportion of respondents aware of the possibility of voting by mail includes those who said that they voted by mail in the May 2011 election.

Footnote 17 The Voter Information Card is not required for voting, but electors are invited to bring it with them when they go vote as it contains the information they need such as the address of the voting location and their poll number. Also, as previously indicated, in 2011 the Voter Information Card could be used as one of the two pieces of identification at the polls in certain target areas, namely on Aboriginal reserves, in student residences on campus, in long-term care facilities and in seniors' residences.