Public Opinion Survey Following the March 19th, 2012 By-election in Toronto–Danforth (Ontario)
VOTING IN THE BY-ELECTION
This section explores issues related to voting in the March 19th, 2012 by-election.
Large Majority Claim to Have Voted in By-election
Four in five (80%) respondents claimed that they voted in the March 19th by-election.Footnote 7 Conversely, one in five (20%) said they did not.
The likelihood of having voted in the by-election increased with age, from 56% of 18-24 year olds to 85% of those 65 and older. In addition, the following were more apt to say that they have voted in the by-election: electors born in Canada (83% vs. 72% of those born outside Canada), those with a university degree (83% vs. 73% of college-educated electors), and respondents with household incomes of $100,000 or more (84% vs. 70% of those earning less than $40,000 per year).End of box
Higher Percentage Reported Voting in 2011
Electors were also asked if they had voted in the previous 2011 general election. A comparison of both electoral events, taken from the same sample of electors in Toronto–Danforth, shows that the self-reported voter turn-out for the 2011 general election (87%) is higher than that of this by-election (80%).
Duty, Followed by Habit – Main Reason for Voting
Respondents who said they voted in the by-election (n=613) were asked to identify the main reason why they voted. Non-political reasons were most often cited, including the duty to vote (45%) and the habit of voting (25%). Other reasons were more political in nature, such as supporting a particular party (10%) or candidate (9%), or to be involved in the political process (5%).
Electors with household incomes of $100,000+ were more likely to vote out of duty (49% vs. 29% of respondents who have annual household incomes between $40,000 and $60,000 and 38% of those earning less than $40,000). For their part, respondents born in Canada were more likely than those born outside of Canada to have voted out of habit (27% vs. 18%).End of box
Daily Life Issues – Main Reasons for Not Voting
A majority of the respondents who said they were unable to vote in the by-election (n=107) pointed to everyday life issues (66%) to explain why they did not vote. In fact, these reasons were cited almost twice as often as any other types of reasons.
Following this, 35% identified political issues, and 5% cited issues related to the electoral process itself (3% pointed to some other reason).Footnote 8 Generally speaking, these results are somewhat similar to that of the 2011 general election.
|Everyday Life IssuesFootnote 9|
|In the process of moving/changing address||6%|
|Lack of information||5%|
|Forgot to vote||4%|
|Lack of interest/apathy||13%|
|Related to candidates/undecided on who to vote for||11%|
|Meaninglessness of vote||8%|
|Related to political parties||3%|
|Political Issues (Cont'd.)|
|Lack of competition / Didn't think that it would make an impact||1%|
|Related to politicians (in general)||<1%|
|Related to government||<1%|
|Electoral Process Issues|
|Lack of information on voting process (e.g. when/where to vote)||2%|
|Problems with access to the polls||2%|
|No documents to prove identification when voting||<1%|
|Polling station too far away from home||<1%|
Suggestions to Encourage Non-Voters to Vote
Respondents who did not vote in the by-election (n=107) were also asked to identify what, if anything, could be done to encourage them to vote in the next federal election. In response, 30% did not offer any suggestions, while 21% said that nothing could be done to encourage non-voters to vote. Among those who did offer substantive feedback, the top suggestion, mentioned by 25% of respondents, was the ability to vote online. On that subject, it must be reminded that this suggestion is based on the opinion of 24 respondents. As a reference point, this suggestion was mentioned by 14% of Canadian electors in the 2011 general election (n=69). All other suggestions were mentioned by less than one in ten electors.
Most Non-Voters Claimed They Would Have Voted Online
When non-voters were asked directly if they would have voted on the Internet using the Elections Canada Web site, if it would have been possible to do so, more than two-thirds (68%) said they would have voted in this manner.
Return to source of Footnote 7 Official voter turn-out in the by-election was 43%. When interpreting these results, therefore, it is important to keep in mind that 1) non-voters are more likely to refuse answering surveys about elections, and 2) social desirability may lead to over-reporting of voting behaviour.
Return to source of Footnote 8 Percentages in the graph exceed 100% because respondents were able to provide multiple responses.
Return to source of Footnote 9 The percentages for the various items may not sum to the totals in the previous graph for each summary category for the following reasons: 1) rounding; 2) the inclusion of issues identified by very small numbers (<1%), and; 3) respondents who identified more than one issue within a summary category are only counted once when the aggregate results are presented.