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Survey of Electors Following the 41st General Election

Voter Attendance

This section explores issues related to voting experience. The questions were addressed to all those who voted in the general election, except those who did so by mail.

Most Left Home to Vote, Voting LocationsFootnote 18 Seen as Convenient, Easy to Find

By a wide margin, most votersFootnote 19 (80%) said they went to go vote from their home. Significantly fewer (16%) went to vote from work, while very few (1% or less) went from other locations. The latter include shopping, school/daycare, recreational activities, appointments, and visits with family and friends.

Youth were less likely than the general population to leave to go vote from work (10% vs. 16%). Aboriginals were not significantly different in this propensity than the general population. Location of Departure to Vote graph
Text description of "Location of Departure to Vote" graph

Sociodemographic differences

The following groups were less likely than others to come to vote from home:

  • Electors who are employed (71% vs. 83% of students, 95‑96% of others).
  • Electors without a disability (79% vs. 89% with a disability).
  • Electors with a university degree (76% vs. 80‑84% of others).

The likelihood of leaving to go vote from home was highest amongst:

  • Electors with household incomes under $40,000 (85% vs. 73‑79% of others).
  • Electors aged 65 and over (93% vs. 73‑83% of younger electors).
  • Electors who stay at home full-time (96%) and those who are unemployed (95% vs. 71‑83% of others).
  • Electors with a disability (89% vs. 79% of those without a disability).

As well, almost everyone felt that the distance to the voting location was convenient for them (97%) and reported no difficulty reaching it (98%). These results are similar to both the 2006 and 2008 election campaigns, where 96% said that the polling station they used was a convenient distance for them, and 98% reported no problems in findingFootnote 20 it. Amongst Aboriginals, a greater proportion found the distance to their polling station convenient in 2011 than in 2008 (95% vs. 89%).

The small number who had difficulty reaching the polling station (n=49) offered the following reasons to explain why: transportation/road problems (n=12), physical accessibility (n=9), the address being hard to find (n=8), health problems (n=5), the time being inconvenient (n=5), not enough parking at the polling station (n=4), the room inside the building being hard to find (n=3), and imprecise signage (n=1).

There was a positive relationship between the likelihood to say that the polling station was a convenient distance and the likelihood to be satisfied, overall, with the service provided by Elections Canada staff. Of those who were very satisfied with the service from Elections Canada, 97% said the distance to the polls was convenient. Conversely, of those who were not at all satisfied with the service, 82% found the distance to the polls convenient, while 18% did not.

Voting Time

Voters went to vote throughout the day. Approximately one in five (21%) voted before noon, 38% between noon and 5 pm, and 37% voted after 5 pm. These results are fairly similar to 2008, when 23% of voters voted before noon, 35% voted between noon and 5 pm, and 41% voted after 5 pm.

Time of Vote graph
Text description of "Time of Vote" graph

The following table provides a more detailed breakdown of the times that voters went to the polls:

Time of Vote

Q32: Do you remember approximately what time it was when you went to vote?

Time %
Before 8 am 1%
8-9 am 2%
9-10 am 5%
10-11 am 7%
11-12 am 6%
12 am-1 pm 7%
1-2 pm 8%
2-3 pm 7%
3-4 pm 6%
4-5 pm 10%
5-6 pm 14%
6-7 pm 12%

Base: n=2928; those who voted, except by mail
DK/NR = 4%


Note about polling sites hours

Polling stations for advance voting are open from noon to 8 p.m. only. On election day, polling station opening hours are open 12 consecutive hours (staggered by time zones)

Time zone Polls open and close in local time
Newfoundland Time 8:30 a.m. 8:30 p.m.
Atlantic Time 8:30 a.m. 8:30 p.m.
EasternTime 9:30 a.m. 9:30 p.m.
Central Time* 8:30 a.m. 8:30 p.m.
Mountain Time* 7:30 a.m. 7:30 p.m.
Pacific Time 7:00 a.m. 7:00 p.m.

*In Saskatchewan, when daylight saving time is in effect for the rest of the country, voting hours are from 7:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. (local time).

Language of Service Near Universal Satisfaction

Three-quarters (75%) of voters were served in English when they went to the polls, while one-quarter (25%) were served in French.

Nearly everyone (99%) was satisfied with the language in which they were served.

Aboriginals were more likely to be served in English (91% vs. 75% of general population). Youth were roughly comparable to the general population. Language of Service graph
Text description of "Language of Service" graph

Sociodemographic differences

There is a positive relationship between likelihood of being satisfied with the language of service and likelihood of being satisfied, overall, with the service provided by Elections Canada staff. All of those who were very satisfied with the service from Elections Canada were satisfied with the language in which they were served, compared with only 74% of those who were not satisfied at all with the service from Elections Canada.

Virtually All Satisfied with Wait Time, Staff at Polls

Nearly all voters (97%) think that the waiting time at the polling station was reasonable. There was similar near unanimity in terms of satisfaction with the service provided by Elections Canada staff, with 98% of voters saying they were at least somewhat satisfied, and fully 87% being very satisfied. Very few voters (<2%) reported dissatisfaction with Elections Canada staff.Satisfaction with EC Staff at Polling Station graph
Text description of "Satisfaction with EC Staff at Polling Station" graph

Sociodemographic differences

The likelihood of expressing strong satisfaction was higher amongst:

  • Electors born outside Canada (92% vs. 87% born in Canada).
  • Anglophones (89% vs. 83% of Francophones).
  • Electors who followed the campaign closely (88% vs. 83% who did not).

There was a positive correlation between age and overall strong satisfaction with service from Elections Canada. Eighty-three percent of those under 25 expressed strong satisfaction compared to 86% of those 25‑44, 89% of those 45‑64, and 90% of those 65 and over.

Satisfaction with the waiting time is strongly correlated to the overall satisfaction with Elections Canada's overall services. Ninety-nine percent of those who were very satisfied with the service from Elections Canada said the wait time to vote was reasonable, compared with only 22% of those were not at all satisfied with service.

As the graph to the right indicates, satisfaction levels with Elections Canada staff at polling stations are virtually unchanged since 2008.Satisfaction with EC Staff at Polling Station (Over Time) graph
Text description of "Satisfaction with EC Staff at Polling Station (Over Time)" graph

Virtual Consensus that Voting was Easy

Very few voters found the process of casting a vote to be difficult. Rather, almost everyone said that casting their vote was very easy (92%) or somewhat easy (7%). Less than 2% felt that this was not easy. These results are similar to 2008, where 99% found the voting process easy, with 89% finding it very easy.

While Aboriginals and youth expressed the view that voting was easy in the same proportions as the general population, they were more likely to consider it only somewhat easy (12/13% vs. 7%) and less likely to consider it very easy (86/87% vs. 92%).

Ease of Voting graph
Text description of "Ease of Voting" graph

Sociodemographic differences

Students were less likely than others to say that voting was very easy (81% vs. 87‑92%).

There was a clear positive relationship between finding it easy to vote and satisfaction with Elections Canada service overall. All of those who were very satisfied with service from Elections Canada also found the voting process at least somewhat easy, compared with only 30% of those who were not at all satisfied with service.

Of those who found voting difficult (n=35), the most frequently-cited reasons were that the polling station was hard to find or access (n=6) and that it was difficult to prove one's address or identity (n=10). Other reasons include long lines at the polling station (n=3), lack of knowledge on the part of staff at the polling station (n=3), and difficulty to decide who to vote for (n=3).


Footnote 18 In this section, the term "voting location" includes polling stations, advance polling stations, and Elections Canada offices.

Footnote 19 This includes all voters except those who voted by mail.

Footnote 20 In 2006 and 2008 the question asked about "finding" the polling station; in 2011 it addressed "reaching" the polling station.