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Survey of Candidates Following the 40th General Election

Experience with Electoral Process

This section reports candidates' experiences with various aspects of the electoral process. This includes the nomination requirements, the registration, voting, and counting processes, voter identification, and the appointment and training of election staff.

Nomination Requirements

Most Felt it was Easy to Comply with Nomination Requirements

Ease of complying with nomination requirmentsAlmost eight in ten surveyed candidates (79%) found it moderately or very easy to comply with the nomination requirements, while one in five (20%) did not.

Candidates were more likely to report that they found it very easy to comply with the nomination requirements if they were elected (41% vs. 28% of those not elected), were a member of a HOC-represented party (34% vs. 21% of members of a non-represented party), and were satisfied with the overall quality of service from Elections Canada (31% vs. 22‑23% of those less satisfied). Those in Atlantic Canada (40%) were more likely than those in Quebec (26%) and B.C. (23%) to find the requirements very easy to meet. Moreover, the likelihood of feeling this way increased with age (from 20% of those under 30 to 33% of those 50 and older), and the number of candidacies (from 27% of first time candidates to 34% of the most experienced candidates).

Obtaining Enough Signatures Main Difficulty Experienced in Nomination Process

Candidates who had trouble with the nomination requirements (n=180) identified a number of reasons to explain why this was the case. That said, one was identified far more often than any others 54% said it was difficult to collect enough signatures in their riding. Following this, candidates cited issues falling under two main categories: aspects of the nomination requirements and administrative problems. In terms of nomination requirements (in addition to obtaining enough signatures), candidates report issues with the required $1,000 deposit (14%), trouble meeting the deadline (12%), travelling (4%), and difficulty appointing an official agent (2%). Administrative problems include too much paperwork or bureaucracy (11%), procedures and requirements that were not adequately explained (11%), process difficulties for independent candidates and small or new parties (7%), returning officers being difficult to deal with (2%), and the absence of someone who was available to answer questions (2%).

Difficulties complying with nomination requirments

Difficulties grouped into the 'other' category include no access to the voters list when applying, setting up the bank account, finding a chartered accountant for auditing, English being their second language, reliance on faxes and regular mail, and no Electoral District Association in the riding.

Difficulties with nomination requirements vary by sub-group.

Candidates aged 30‑49 (65%) were more likely than those aged 50 or more (49%) to have difficulty getting the required number of signatures. The following were more likely to report difficulties obtaining the $1000 deposit: male candidates (16% vs. 5% of female candidates), members of parties not represented in the HOC (20% vs. 7% of those whose parties are represented in the HOC), and those who did not attendFootnote 7 the financial requirements information session (24% vs. 8% of those who attended the session).

Interestingly, those who were not successful in the last election were the only ones to report that they encountered the top three difficulties.

Nearly All Felt Nominations Processed in Timely Fashion

Nomination Processed in timely fashion?Candidates were almost unanimous (96%) in reporting that the returning officer processed their nomination in a timely fashion. Among the rest, 3% did not find this to be the case, while 1% were unsure.

Respondents were more likely to report that their nomination was processed in a timely manner the more satisfied they were with:

  • The administration of the election (from 89% of those dissatisfied to 97% of those satisfied)
  • The performance of their local returning officer (from 81% of those dissatisfied to 99% of those satisfied)
  • The overall quality of service received form Elections Canada (from 83% of those dissatisfied to 98% of those satisfied).

Appointing Official Agent Generally Easy For Most Candidates

Ease of appointing official agentJust over three-quarters of candidates (77%) felt that it was at least moderately easy for them to appoint an official agent. Conversely, slightly more than one in five (22%) reported experiencing some difficulty in this regard.

Candidates were more likely to report difficulty appointing an official agent if they were at least 30 years of age (28% of those 30‑49 and 20% of those 50 or older vs. 13% of those under 30), not elected (24% vs. 9% of those elected), and if this was their first candidacy (26% vs. 16% of those who ran once before and 17% of those who ran more than twice).

The following were more likely to say it was very easy to appoint an official agent. Candidates that...

  • ran in Atlantic Canada ridings (51%)
  • ran as a candidate only once (39%) versus those who ran twice (52%) or three times or more (50%)
  • were satisfied with the overall quality of service from Elections Canada (46%) vs. those with a neutral view (30%) and those that were dissatisfied (40%), and
  • were 50 or older (46%) versus those 30 to 49 years of age (37%).

Difficulty Finding Willing or Qualified People Top Difficulties Appointing Official Agents

Among those who encountered difficulties when appointing an official agent (n=194), candidates were most likely to mention that they found it hard to find someone willing or available (40%), or someone qualified to do the job (36%). Considerably fewer (12%) explained that the job was simply too difficult or involved too much responsibility.

Difficulties appointing offical agent

Relatively few pointed to other problems with regards to appointing an official agent. These include the timeframe being too short (7%), difficulties experienced by independent candidates and small or new parties (5%), lack of clarity about the agent's role (4%), and too much paperwork or bureaucracy (3%).

Difficulties grouped into the 'other' category include interpersonal issues, banks' desire to be non-partisan by not opening accounts for candidates' campaigns, not enough compensation, not having ties to the community ("parachuted in"), and some candidates' ability to pay more.

Difficulty finding someone willing or available to do the job was more likely to be reported by candidates in Quebec (54%) and the Prairies (44%), and least likely by those in Atlantic Canada (19%). The following were also more likely to have encountered this problem:

  • Those aged 30 to 49 (49%) compared to candidates 50 and older (32%)
  • Those that were not elected (41%) compared to those that were (14%).

Official Agents Most Likely to Attend Financial Requirements Information Sessions

Two-thirds of surveyed candidates report that someone from their campaign attended the Elections Canada information sessions on the financial requirements for candidates and official agents. This includes 37% who said the information sessions were attended by their official agent, 13% who said they personally attended, 11% who went accompanied by a representative, and 4% who said their campaign manager went to the sessions on their behalf.

Over one-quarter (28%) said that no one from their campaign attended, while 6% were uncertain about whether anyone attended on their behalf.

Attendance at finincial requirments information session

Candidates were more likely to say that their official agent attended the information session if they were older (28% of those under 30 vs. 37% of those 30 to 49 and 40% of those 50 and older), elected (49% vs. 36% of those not elected), and a member of a political party represented in the House of Commons (48% of HOC-represented party members vs. 25% of non-HOC party members vs. 11% of independents).

Registration, Voting and Counting Processes

Slight Majority Satisfied with Elector Registration

Satisfaction with elector registrationOverall, slightly more than half (54%) of surveyed candidates were satisfied with the way elector registration went (scores of 4 or 5 on a 5‑point scale). Conversely, one-quarter (25%) were neutral, while 16% expressed dissatisfaction (scores of 1 or 2).

Candidates in Quebec were the most likely to have been satisfied with the way elector registration went (65% vs. 42% in Atlantic Canada, 46% in the Prairies, 49% in B.C., and 55% in Ontario), as were Francophones (63% vs. 51% of Anglophones), and men (58% vs. 44% of women).

In addition, candidates were more likely to be satisfied with elector registration the more satisfied they were with the overall administration of the election (from 22% of those dissatisfied to 66% of those satisfied), the performance of the riding's returning officer (from 26% of those dissatisfied to 60% of those satisfied), and the quality of service from Elections Canada (from 15% of those dissatisfied to 63% of those satisfied).

Top Sources of Dissatisfaction with Elector Registration New ID Requirements, Elector Awareness of Process

Candidates that were not satisfied with the way elector registration went (n=142) offered numerous reasons to explain why. The most frequently-provided responses were that the new identification requirements turned away genuine voters (32%), and that electors were unaware of the registration processes and options (25%) (multiple responses accepted). One in ten (10%) felt the revision process was ineffective and sought a return to door-to-door enumeration, while slightly fewer (9%) felt that voters were confused about the new identification requirements.

Reason for DisSatisfaction with elector registrartion

Reasons offered infrequently include the registration process being too complicated (6%), too few registration opportunities (5%), inconsistent enforcement of rules (4%), an inadequate timeframe for electors to register (3%), too few registration officers at the polls (2%), and that citizenship was not verified at polling stations (2%).

Candidates in Atlantic Canada ridings were the most likely to have felt that genuine voters were turned away (67% vs. 18% in Quebec, 23% in Ontario, 26% in the Prairies, and 39% in B.C.). Those for whom this was their second candidacy were the least likely to report this problem (12% vs. 35% of those with three or more candidacies, and 36% of first-time candidates).

Two-thirds Satisfied with all Aspects of Ballot Casting

Two-thirds of candidates were satisfied with each aspect of ballot casting in the 40th federal general election. More specifically, 68% were satisfied with the way the various options for electors to cast a ballot wentFootnote 8, 67% with the locations chosen as polling stations, and 66% with the way the vote counting proceeded in their riding. For each of these, however, satisfaction was more likely to be moderate than strong.

Those not satisfied tended to be neutral as opposed to dissatisfied with each of these aspects. In terms of areas of dissatisfaction, candidates were most likely to be dissatisfied with the location of the polling stations (13%), followed by the various ballot casting options (9%), and the vote counting in their riding (6%). Few were very dissatisfied (2‑4%).

Uncertainty ranged from 2% to 11%, and was highest regarding the vote counting in the candidates' own ridings.

Perceptions of ballot casting

Perceptions of ballot casting vary considerably across the various sub-groups. Satisfaction with the ballot casting options was most likely among candidates in Quebec (72%) and least likely among those in Atlantic Canada (56%), as well as those aged 30 to 49 (73%) compared to those 50 and older (65%). These were the only significant differences by age and region.

The following demographic differences were also apparent:

  • Men were more likely than women to be satisfied with the way the ballot casting options went (71% vs. 61% of women), and the way the vote counting proceeded (69% vs. 58% of women).
  • Candidates that were not elected were more likely than those that were elected to be satisfied with the way the ballot casting options went (69% vs. 55% of those that were elected) and the locations chosen for the polls (68% vs. 52% of those that were elected).
  • Members of HOC-represented parties were the least likely to be satisfied with the way the ballot casting options went (65% vs. 73% of those that were members of parties not represented in the HOC), and the locations chosen for the polls (62% vs. 74% of members of non-HOC-represented parties, and 81% of independents).

The more satisfied candidates were with other aspects of the election and electoral process, the more likely they were to be satisfied with each aspect of ballot casting.

Respondents were more likely to be satisfied with the various options for casting a ballot if they were satisfied with the administration of the election (from 50% of those dissatisfied to 76% of those satisfied), the returning officer's performance (from 50% of those dissatisfied to 72% of those satisfied), the overall quality of service from Elections Canada (from 42% of those dissatisfied to 75% of those satisfied), and elector registration (from 44% of those dissatisfied to 84% of those satisfied).

Respondents were more likely to be satisfied with the locations of the polling stations if they were also satisfied with the administration of the election (from 46% of those dissatisfied to 75% of those satisfied), the returning officer's performance (from 49% of those dissatisfied to 72% of those satisfied), the overall quality of service from Elections Canada (from 46% of those dissatisfied to 73% of those satisfied), and elector registration (from 48% of those dissatisfied to 81% of those satisfied).

Similarly, candidates were more likely to be satisfied with the way the vote counting proceeded if they were also satisfied with the administration of the election (from 33% of those dissatisfied to 76% of those satisfied), the returning officer's performance (from 39% of those dissatisfied to 72% of those satisfied), and the overall quality of service from Elections Canada (from 38% of those dissatisfied to 74% of those satisfied). Those satisfied with elector registration were also more likely to be satisfied with the vote counting (82%) compared to those with a neutral view (48%) and those dissatisfied (54%).

Varied Reasons Cited for Dissatisfaction with Ballot Casting Options

Candidates who were not satisfied with the ballot casting options (n=90) offered varied reasons to explain why. Broadly, these reasons can be grouped into three themes identification and registration issues, issues with the specific methods of voting, and problems with procedures. Turning first to identification and registration issues, 20% felt that electors were unaware of the new identification requirementsFootnote 9, 7% that electors were unaware of the registration process, and 2% that there were problems with the 'Statement of Electors'.

Reasons for DisSatistfaction with ballot of casting options

Issues with specific voting methods include problems with the advance polls (13%), with voting on Election Day (11%), voting by mail (8%), and voting at local Elections Canada offices (7%). Some were also critical that no online or email voting methods were used (6%). Focusing on procedural issues, candidates were dissatisfied with voter line-ups and excessive wait times (12%), felt there were too few polling locations (8%), that the timeframe for voting was inadequate (7%), and that electors did not know where to vote (6%).

Accessibility Main Reason for Dissatisfaction with Location of Polling Stations

Candidates who were not satisfied with the locations chosen for the advance polls and on Election Day (n = 118) most often pointed to accessibility issues. More specifically, many candidates identified problems with polling station accessibility on Election Day (41%), while some did so for the advance polls (15%). The former was cited much more often than any other reason. Accessibility includes issues such as the polls being too far for constituents to reach, not being in public places, not being close enough to rural communities, the removal of polls from some senior citizen homes, and lengthy driving times to reach the polls.

Reasons for DisSatisfaction with location of polling stations

Other reasons focused on the actual locations chosen for the polling stations, the number of stations, and their set-up. Focusing on the locations themselves, candidates found them hard to find either on Election Day (17%) or for the advance polls (9%). As well, some locations were seen to be inappropriate (i.e. churches, funeral parlours) (7%). In terms of quantity, some candidates felt that there were too few advance polling stations (9%) or Election Day polling stations (7%). Those citing problems with the stations' set-up pointed to problems of space on Election Day (12%) and at the advance polls (7%). Some also explained their dissatisfaction with the polling station locations by noting that electors were uncertain about which station to go to (6%).

Reasons for dissatisfaction grouped into the 'other' category include a lack of available rental facilities, a lack of advertising in the riding, advertising not being multilingual, and stations that were too close to rival party headquarters.

Slowness, Perceived Tampering Top Reasons for Dissatisfaction with Vote Counting in Own Riding

Candidates that were dissatisfied with the way the vote counting proceeded in their own riding (n=53Footnote 10) were most likely to say that the counting was too slow (25%), or to perceive tampering or interference (25%). Following this, 15% felt there was a lack of security or supervision, and 13% felt that workers were not properly trained. A small number felt that the election materials were tampered with (4%).

Reasons for DisSatisfaction with vote countung in OWN riding

A considerable number of unique issues were identified by only one or two respondents and grouped into the 'other' category. These include improper sealing of envelopes, partisan supporters administering the vote, representatives excluded from the count, no vote counting machines used, a need for electronic voting machines at the polls, issues with the recounts in general, and the potential for human error.

Voter Identification

Some Witnessed Problems with New Voter ID Requirements

witness any problems with new voter ID Requirments? A majority of candidates (61%) report that neither they nor their representatives witnessed problems related to the implementation of the new voter identification requirements. That said, more than one-third (37%) did witness problems with the new requirements.

In terms of demographic differences, candidates in Saskatchewan (67%), Atlantic Canada (64%), and Manitoba (51%) were more likely to have witnessed problems with the new voter identification requirements compared to those in Quebec (23%), Ontario (33%), Alberta (35%), and B.C. (42%). The following candidates were also more likely to have witnessed problems with the new voter ID requirements: Anglophones (40%) compared to Francophones (27%), women (46%) compared to men (34%), elected candidates (46%) compared to those not elected (37%), and members of HOC-represented political parties (43%) compared to of members of other political parties (32%) and independents (19%).

As well, candidates who were more likely to have witnessed problems with voter identification were more likely to be dissatisfied with the overall administration of the election (from 32% of those satisfied to 49% of those dissatisfied), the performance of their riding's returning officer (from 35% of those satisfied to 51% of those dissatisfied), and the overall quality of service from Elections Canada (from 34% of those satisfied to 54% of those dissatisfied).

Improper ID/Unable to Vote Top Problem Witnessed with New ID Requirements

Candidates who indicated that they or their representatives witnessed problems with the new voter identification requirements (n = 328) identified a number of issues. More than half (56%) mentioned that voters did not have proper identification or were unable to vote. Other issues include voters having problems proving their identity (23%), proving their address (18%), or being uncertain about the identification needed (14%). Candidates also pointed to a perceived uneven interpretation of the rules by election officers (13%).

Problems witnessed with new voter ID requirments

Issues witnessed with less frequency were long line-ups (6%), voter uncertainty regarding which polling stations to go to (3%), no verification of citizenship (2%), students that had difficulty voting (2%), and voters being asked to remove masks or facial coverings (2%).

Issues found in the 'other' category include perceptions that the new requirements were unjustified, the lack of outreach for multilingual electors, swearing in voters by strangers at the polls, police presence, difficulties for the poor to comply with the new requirements, new rules not being well communicated, lists that did not accommodate people who had moved, and errors on voters lists generally.

The top issues with the new voter identification requirements varied by demographic characteristics. In particular, candidates in Atlantic Canada (83%) and Manitoba (70%) were more likely to have witnessed voters without proper identification not being able to vote compared to those in Saskatchewan (54%), B.C. (52%), Ontario (48%), Quebec (46%), and Alberta (43%).

The following candidates were more likely to point to voters having problems proving their identity: candidates in the Prairies (30%), Atlantic Canada (28%) and Ontario (24%) compared to those in B.C. (15%), and Quebec (10%), and Anglophones (25%) compared to Francophones (12%).

Meanwhile, problems with voters proving their addresses were more likely to be noticed by candidates in the Prairies (26%) than those in Ontario (13%) or Quebec (8%), by Anglophones (20%) compared to Francophones (8%), and by women (25%) compared to men (14%).

Majority Hold Positive View of List of Acceptable ID Documents

Asked what, if anything, candidates thought about the list of acceptable pieces of identification established by the Chief Electoral Officer, the majority were satisfied and reported no problems (54%). Those who were less content pointed to numerous issues. Specifically, some candidates stressed that some voters did not have the required ID (9%), and that the list created difficulties for some voters in general (6%), was not exhaustive (4%), or was inconsistent with locally-available identification (4%).

As well, a further 12% were unsure and 2% were not aware of the list or did not see it.

Preception of list of acceptable identification documnents

Comments grouped into the 'other' category include the list making it more difficult for people with postal addresses and treaty cards, the option for online enumeration, its inefficiency, misunderstandings regarding the registration card, allowing for a passport or drivers license only, and revisiting the 'old' method.

Sub-group variations in terms of perceptions of the list tended to be language-based. Francophones (81% vs. 47% Anglophones) and candidates in Quebec (78% vs. 50% in Ontario, 47% in the Prairies, 43% in B.C., and 40% in Atlantic Canada) were the most likely to hold a positive view of the list. In terms of criticisms of the list, the likelihood of saying that some electors do not have the required identification was greater among candidates that speak English (10%) compared to those that speak French (2%).

Candidates were more likely to hold positive perceptions of the list of acceptable documents if they were satisfied with the overall administration of the election (57% of those satisfied vs. 48% of those dissatisfied) and with the overall quality of service received from Elections Canada (55% of those satisfied vs. 38% of those dissatisfied).

Appointment & Training of Election Staff

The question in this section was only asked of candidates that came first or second in the previous federal general election (n=84).

Almost Half Did Not Have Problems with Providing List of Election Staff Appointees

Just under half (49%) of the surveyed candidates report not encountering any challenges or problems in providing the returning officer with a list of names of those who were to be appointed as revising agents, deputy returning officers and poll clerks.

Of those who did encounter problems (51%), candidates were most likely to have been unable to find people interested or available (18%), followed by some on their list being ineligible (11%), being unable to find competent people (10%), and not having enough time (5%). A further 5% did not provide a list or were not asked to provide one.

Problems with providing list of election staff appointees?

Challenges grouped into the 'other' category include candidates having trouble retaining people for their campaign and placing people on the list, people being reassigned, lists needing to be refreshed, and the manager always taking his/her friends.


Footnote 7 For editorial purposes, sub-group analyses will use the term 'attend' to refer to attendance by either the candidate or a representative from their campaign.

Footnote 8 One percent were unable to evaluate this, as they had mixed feelings about the various options.

Footnote 9 This was also the most widespread reason for dissatisfaction (20% vs. 13% or less for other reasons).

Footnote 10 Due to the small sample size, caution is to be used in interpreting these results.