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2000 General Election Post-event Overview


1. Electors

1.1 Information for Electors

Throughout the election period, Elections Canada informed the electorate about the voting process in several ways. A householder was sent to every Canadian household, providing information on the general election coming up, on how to register and the various ways of voting. Following the householder distribution, a voter information card was mailed individually to each elector whose name was on the preliminary lists of electors. This card was intended to confirm whether electors were correctly registered, and to provide specific information on where and when to vote. Television advertisements provided information about registration procedures, and a multimedia advertising campaign was directed to specific audiences. The Elections Canada Web site provided information, and a toll-free phone line service (1 800 INFO-VOTE) dealt with electors' enquiries.

Householder

Thirty-five percent of electors clearly recalled having seen the householder that was sent to them before the election. This rate was lower among youth (that is, electors 18-34 years old) and Aboriginal people: 28 and 31 percent respectively. Academics who recalled having seen the householder (95 percent) reported that the information it provided was very useful, or even essential.

Voter information card

According to the 2000 CES, 83 percent of electors received their voter information card correctly addressed to them (Ipsos-Reid reported 79 percent). However, penetration rates were lower among Aboriginal people (68 percent) and youth (64 percent).

Electors identified the voter information card as their principal source of information about voting procedures. Television, newspapers and radio followed (in that order) as the most-mentioned sources of information. Within targeted electorate subsets, youth and Aboriginal people reported television as the main source, special-needs association representatives identified Elections Canada's householder and brochures, and ethnocultural association representatives identified newspapers as their members' principal source of information.

1 800 INFO-VOTE Services

Eight percent of electors reported having called Elections Canada's toll-free voter information line. They indicated a high degree of satisfaction with the information and services they received through their communications with Elections Canada. A slightly higher percentage of youth and Aboriginal electors reported having called the toll-free line. A majority of third-party representatives reported having used the information line, and most of them indicated that they were satisfied with the service.

Based on the feedback they received, however, returning officers indicated that the toll-free service did not meet their expectations. Seventy-one percent of them reported having received enquiry calls from electors that they considered being improperly referred to them by the INFO-VOTE staff.

Advertising campaign

Eighty-six percent of electors indicated having seen Elections Canada's advertisement that asked "Are you on the list?" The same proportion among youth — but a lower proportion of Aboriginal people — reported having seen it. All of the surveyed academics remembered having seen the advertisement.

Overall, reactions to the advertising campaign were positive among electors and academics. Electors agreed that the information provided by Elections Canada was clear and easy to understand. The academic community assessed the campaign as effective and clear, but some of them mentioned that the advertisement was not clear enough in saying that electors could get added to the list on polling day. Candidates, political parties and returning officers expressed some dissatisfaction with information provided to electors. Only a few of them felt that Elections Canada's communications with electors were effective and efficient.

Services to special-needs associations

Three-quarters of special-needs association representatives were satisfied with Elections Canada's services provided to their members. About 60 percent agreed that the dedicated information provided met the specific needs of their members. The vast majority also indicated a positive impression of Elections Canada's role in the election. Most representatives reported being aware of Elections Canada's special services that were available to their members.

Services to ethnocultural associations

Fifty-four percent of ethnocultural association representatives reported that they were aware of Elections Canada's special initiatives for new Canadians. About 40 percent reported having ordered additional information, such as posters, pamphlets, polling-day information, voting procedures and other documents translated in non-official languages. Those who reported not having ordered additional material mostly noted that their members did not need or request any. Among those who reported having ordered such material, 65 percent indicated high satisfaction rates with the quality of the material provided in non-official languages. Although only 40 percent reported being satisfied with the overall special services they received from Elections Canada for their members, satisfaction rates reached 54 percent among representatives who were aware of the special services available to their members.

Elections Canada's Web site

Academics did not agree that the Internet had significantly changed the way electors obtained information on elections, mostly because it was still not accessible for many electors. According to the Ipsos-Reid survey of electors, 70 percent of electors had access to the Internet (82 percent of youth and 60 percent of Aboriginal electors had access). Among electors with Internet access, 13 percent indicated that they had sought information about the election on the Internet, and 10 percent reported having visited the Elections Canada Web site. Overall, the Elections Canada Web site penetration rate among the electorate was around 2 percent (3 percent among youth but less than 2 percent among Aboriginal people).

Most respondents to the Elections Canada Web site survey indicated a very positive reaction about it. Sixty percent expressed satisfaction with the information provided and its ease of use. However, satisfaction rates were lower with the site's overall functionality, navigating within it and the download speed.

Respondents of the Web site survey also indicated that the site was effective in reinforcing their confidence in Elections Canada's role, and they felt that it had a positive effect on Elections Canada's image.

Academics identified past election results and legislation as the most useful sections for themselves. In spite of their overall satisfaction with the Web site, some of them indicated that it was somewhat too specialized for most electors.

Suggestions for improving the efficiency of the information provided to electors Made by electors and associations Made by candidates and political parties Made by returning officers Made by academics
Improve the 1 800 INFO-VOTE service   x x x
Clarify the advertising on registration procedures x   x x
Improve the visibility of the householder x     x
Improve the Web site's functionality and speed x     x
Popularize the Web site       x

1.2 Voter Registration

The 2000 general election was the first for which the preliminary lists of electors were produced from the National Register of Electors instead of a door-to-door enumeration. Given the annual demographic changes and moves in the electoral populationFootnote 1. Elections Canada expected to have 97 percent of electors registered on the preliminary lists of electors, 80 percent with the correct information. Estimates made following the election indicated that 83 percent were correctly registered on the preliminary lists.

Preliminary lists of electors

The 2000 CES indicated that 83 percent of electors reported having received their voter information cards showing that their names were on the preliminary lists of electors, while 16 percent reported that they never received their cards. According to Ipsos-Reid, 24 percent among Aboriginal people and 26 percent among youth never received their cards.

Despite the quality targets and reliability mentioned above, a majority of candidates and political party representatives indicated a low degree of satisfaction with the preliminary lists of electors. Returning officers reported having to deal with widespread or major complaints about the preliminary lists of electors, indicating that the accuracy of the lists did not meet their expectations.

Returning officers and academics witnessed some confusion arising with the use of the term "or occupant" next to the elector's name on the voter information card when the name on the card did not match the elector's name.

Revision process and revised lists

Revision of the lists of electors involves adding, correcting and removing names. Less than 6 percent of respondents (10 percent among youth and 5 percent among Aboriginal people) reported having received a voter information card with incorrect information on it: either erroneous information or an incorrect name. Among them, 70 percent undertook to correct their voter information, and of those, 82 percent reported that the process was very easy or somewhat easy. Youth reported having found the registration procedures to be slightly more difficult than did older electors.

From their point of view, academics reported that the registration procedures were somewhat easy. Some of them, however, indicated that the process unduly put the onus on electors and required too much initiative from them, especially those who were less involved or interested in the first place.

The 2000 CES investigated the main reason why some electors did not attempt registering or correcting their voter information. Forty-eight percent (51 percent among youth) reported a political reason, such as lack of interest, cynicism, disaffection or inability to choose among candidates or parties. Fifteen percent (16 percent among youth) indicated a personal reason, such as unavailability or inability to attend, or voting being against personal beliefs. Twenty-eight percent (23 percent among youth) noted administrative reasons, such as a polling station too far away or not accessible, problems with a change of address, lack of information on voting or registering, or a missing voter information card.

Candidates and political parties were generally neutral about most aspects of voter registration. When they expressed an opinion, however, they generally reported low satisfaction rates, particularly with registration at advance polls and on polling day, with the targeted revision process and with the accuracy of revised lists of electors. When asked about their satisfaction with specific programs aiming to register some targeted groups of electors, candidates expressed dissatisfaction with the Special Voting Rules registration process and with registration assistance for electors with special needs, while political parties were more dissatisfied with the registration procedures for homeless electors.

Returning officers expressed similarly low levels of satisfaction with the targeted revision process and REVISE, which is an automated system used to update and produce the revised lists of electors.

National Register of Electors

Both candidates and political parties disagreed that the National Register of Electors had decreased the number of voter enquiries they had to deal with, compared to the old enumeration system. Some candidates and academics also stated that the old enumeration system was more efficient.

Suggestions for improving voter registration Made by candidates Made by political parties Made by returning officers Made by academics
Increase information about registration procedures x x x x
Improve the accuracy of the lists of electors x x x x
Improve the voter information card program     x x
Improve the revision process and REVISE     x x

1.3 Voter Participation

Voter turnout was slightly over 61 percent at the 37th general election. However, the 2000 CES indicated that 83 percent of electors reported having voted (Ipsos-Reid reported 82 percent). It is expected and understood that some methodological aspects of electoral surveys, combined with the tendency of respondents to over-report their voting participation, lead to overestimating participation rates.Footnote 2

Electors

Among voter respondents, a large majority (92 percent) reported having voted at a regular polling station on election day, 7 percent at an advance poll and less than 1 percent at the returning office, at a mobile poll on election day or by special mail-in ballot. Almost 90 percent of respondents indicated that they were very or somewhat knowledgeable about the voting process, and 95 percent said that they found the voting method to be easy. Voting at an advance poll was considered to be slightly less easy than at a polling station on election day.

The 2000 CES sought to determine the main reason for not voting. Forty-four percent of non-voting respondents referred to political reasons, such as lack of interest, cynicism, disaffection, or inability to choose among candidates or parties. Forty-three percent reported personal reasons, such as unavailability or inability to attend, or voting being against personal beliefs. Finally, 13 percent indicated an administrative reason related to registration or polling station location and accessibility.

Non-voters were less likely to feel it important that people vote in elections, be socially and politically engaged and feel that their vote matters. They were also less likely to think that government and parties respond to their needs.

Youth

Sixty-eight percent of youth under 35 years of age reported having voted. Most young voters indicated they were somewhat or very knowledgeable about the voting process, and over half indicated that they followed the election somewhat or very closely.

Among young non-voters, 27 percent stated that they did not have enough time to vote and 23 percent said that the election did not really matter to them.

Aboriginal people

Seventy percent of Aboriginal respondents indicated that they voted. Eighty-nine percent of them voted at a regular polling station and 6 percent at an advance poll. Most Aboriginal people indicated that they were very or somewhat knowledgeable about the voting process, and more than half indicated that they followed the election somewhat or very closely.

Aboriginal non-voters gave the lack of time (17 percent) as the first reason for not having voted, but nearly as many (16 percent) indicated that the polling location was too far away or that they could not get there.

Special-needs associations

Sixty-two percent of special-needs association representatives indicated that their members' preferred method of voting was to vote on polling day, and 29 percent at an advance poll. Special-needs associations also indicated that their members would, more than other groups, vote on polling day at a mobile poll, use the special mail-in ballot or vote at their returning office.

Twenty-eight percent of special-needs associations were satisfied with the availability of mobile polling stations, compared to 22 percent who were dissatisfied. They also agreed (to a lesser extent) that interpreters were available on site to assist their members with special needs.

Ethnocultural associations

Sixty-four percent of ethnocultural associations surveyed indicated that their members' preferred voting method was voting at a polling station on polling day, 22 percent at an advance poll and 14 percent by special mail-in ballot.

Suggestions for improving voter turnout Made by candidates Made by political parties Made by returning officers Made by academics
Enhance voter education and information x x x x
Implement mandatory voting x x   x
Improve location of polling stations x   x  
Implement fixed-date election days x   x  
Implement proportional representation       x
Make polling day a national holiday     x x
Extend the voting period to include weekends     x x

1.4 Internet Registration and Voting

Between 68 and 79 percent of electors, depending mostly on their age, indicated that if the technology allowed, they would endorse the use of the Internet in the election process. Some Internet applications received higher support, such as verifying name and address information on-line, locating polling stations, obtaining information about candidates and political parties, and contacting local Elections Canada representatives. Youth, Aboriginal electors, academics, and special-needs and ethnocultural associations were all very supportive of these uses.

Respondents of the Elections Canada Web site survey, however, expressed a stronger support for Internet usage, to check for their polling station (96 percent) and to check their voter information on-line (94 percent). Ninety-five percent of this sample indicated spending more than one hour a day on-line.

About three-quarters of electors indicated that they would register on-line in the future, if technology allowed. Some academics disagreed, however, mainly because of concerns about accessibility, security and secrecy of the vote.

The support among electors for on-line voting (47 percent) was definitely weaker than for other on-line services. However, 56 percent overall stated that on-line voting should be allowed once the systems were proven safe and secure. Support for Internet voting was stronger among Aboriginal people, youth and special-needs associations, and weaker among ethnocultural associations and academics. Candidates and political party representatives indicated that they were not very confident about their ability to monitor and scrutinize the voting process with on-line voting.

According to the 2000 CES, 64 percent of non-voter respondents would have voted if telephone or Internet voting had been available.

Suggestions for further developments with the Internet Made by electors Made by candidates Made by political parties Made by Academics
Make information of polling sites available on-line x      
Make on-line voter registration available x     x
Ensure secrecy and privacy of the vote and security against fraud x     x
Protect candidates' and political parties' right to monitor and scrutinize the voting process   x x  
Test Internet voting with target groups such as youth       x
Promote accessibility, simplicity and availability       x



Footnote 1 For more details, see the Report of the Chief Electoral Officer of Canada on the 37th General Election Held on November 27, 2000.

Footnote 2 For more information on this topic, see among others: Anderson, Barbara A. and Brian D. Silver. 1986. "Measurement and Mismeasurement of the Validity of the Self-Reported Vote" American Journal of Political Sciences 30 (November): 771–85.