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Survey of Candidates Following the 40th General Election

Services and Products Provided

This section explores issues related to the services and products provided to candidates and their campaigns by Elections Canada during the election.

Widespread, Strong Satisfaction with Interactions with Returning Officer

Satisfaction with interaction with returning officerOverall, 85% of candidates were satisfied with their interactions with the returning officer in their riding, with 60% expressing that they were very satisfied. Of those who were not satisfied 8% report holding a neutral view, while 6% were dissatisfied.

Candidates were more likely to be satisfied with their interactions with the returning officer if they were not elected (86% vs. 73% of those that were elected), and ran as independents (97% vs. 83% of HOC-represented party members, and 88% of members of other parties). In addition, candidates were more likely to be satisfied with their interactions with the returning officer the more satisfied they were with the administration of the election (from 62% of those dissatisfied to 94% of those satisfied), with returning officer performance in their own riding (from 32% of those dissatisfied to 95% of those satisfied), and with the overall service quality from Elections Canada (from 50% of those dissatisfied to 94% of those satisfied).

Half of Candidates Attended "All Candidates Briefing"

Attandace at 'all candidates briefing'Just under half (47%) of surveyed candidates report attending the "all candidates briefing" organized by the returning officer. They either attended alone (27%) or were accompanied by a representative (20%). For some campaign, the candidates' official agent (17%) or campaign manager (10%) attended.

Meanwhile, 21% report that no one from their campaign attended.

A number of demographic variations were evident. Candidates were more likely to personally attend the all candidates briefing if they were:

  • Francophones (33%) versus Anglophones (25%)
  • Men (29%) versus women (22%)
  • Not elected (29%) versus those that were elected (8%)
  • A member of a political party not represented in the HOC (33%) versus those whose parties are represented (22%)
  • Infrequent candidates (30% of first-time candidates and 28% of two-time candidates vs. 18% of more experienced candidates)
  • Satisfied with their returning officer (from 15% of those dissatisfied to 29% of those satisfied).

Sending their official agent to the "all candidates briefing" was more common among candidates who reported not being satisfied with the performance of their local returning officer (25%) compared to those who were satisfied (14%).

The likelihood that no one attended this meeting was highest among those in the Prairies (26%) and lowest among those in Ontario (17%). In addition, candidates were less likely to have attended if they were not elected (22% vs. 6% of those that were elected), not a member of a party represented in the HOC (30% vs. 14% of members of HOC-represented parties), and had been a candidate at least once before (27% vs. 17% of first-time candidates).

Large Majority Found "All Candidates Briefing" Useful

A large majority (83%) of those who either report attending the "all candidates briefing" themselves or sending a representative on their behalf found it to be useful. That said, most characterized this as moderately (52%) rather than very useful (31%). Meanwhile, about one in ten (11%) did not find the briefing to be useful.

Six percent were unsure or gave no response.

Preceived usefulness of 'all canditates briefing'

Candidates were more likely to have found the "all candidates briefing" very useful if they were older (from 20% of those under 30 to 30% of those 30 to 49 and 34% of those 50 and older), and less likely if they were more experienced (from 33% of first-time candidates to 32% of two-time candidates, and 24% of candidates that ran three or more times).

Those who found the briefing to be useful were more likely to be satisfied with the administration of the election (from 22% of those dissatisfied to 34% of those satisfied) and the performance of the returning officer (from 19% of those dissatisfied to 34% of those satisfied).

Local Elections Canada Office, Website Most Widely Used Information Services

Nearly all (96%) candidates or their representatives availed themselves of at least one of three Elections Canada information sources.

use of information services during election

More specifically, during the election, majorities of candidates and their representatives sought information from the local Elections Canada Office (83%) and the Elections Canada website (82%). The 1‑800‑number for candidates was used less often (48%).

Use of the local Elections Canada office was more likely among candidates in B.C. (88%) than those in Quebec (80%) and Ontario (80%), among members of political parties compared to independents (85% of members of HOC-represented parties and 81% of members of other parties vs. 65% of independents), and those who attended the "all candidates briefing" (85% of attendees vs. 75% of those who did not attend).

Candidates were more likely to have used the Elections Canada website if they were under 50 years old (90% of those under 30 and 87% of those 30 to 49 vs. 78% of those 50 and older) and were members of political parties not represented in the HOC (88% vs. 79% of members of HOC-represented parties and 73% of independents).

Use of Elections Canada's 1‑800 number for candidates was more likely among those that are not members of HOC-represented political parties (68% of independents and 56% of members of non-HOC represented parties vs. 41% of candidates whose parties are in the HOC).

Candidates Requested Information for Variety of Reasons, None Dominate

Candidates and their representatives who used Elections Canada information sources (n=840) report doing so for a wide range of reasons. However, none dominate. These reasons can be grouped into the following themes: candidate administration (57%), voting (27%), election materials (18%), and general information and clarifications (32%).

Reasons for information request(s)

Candidate administration includes information on nomination requirements (11%), financial information (9%), campaign return reporting requirements (6%), forms from the website (6%), election advertising (5%), spending limits, contribution limits, the candidate registration process, deadlines, filing information and paperwork, and information on donations (3% each) and receipts (4%). Information was also sought with respect to voting, such as locations of polling stations (6%), registration of electors (5%), election results and judicial recounts (5%), voter identification requirements (5%), methods of voting (4%) and advanced polling (2%).

Information requests were also used to obtain voters' lists (9%), inquires about the availability of election materials in general (6%), and to obtain maps for ridings and boundary information (3%). Candidates and their representatives also used information services for general clarifications (12%), clarification of the Elections Act (10%), information relating to election procedures and regulations (7%), and to obtain contact information (3%).

The top reasons for information requests varied somewhat within sub-groups. Candidates that were not elected were more likely to point to seeking general information or clarification (12% vs. 6% of those elected). Candidates that were members of non HOC-represented political parties (16% vs. 7% of those whose parties are represented in the HOC) and that did not attend the "all candidates briefing" (15% vs. 9% of those who attended) were more likely to point to nomination requirements. The likelihood of seeking information on nomination requirements also decreased as age increased (from 19% of those under 30 to 12% of those 30 to 49 and 8% of those 50 and older). Candidates that were members of HOC-represented parties (12%) were also more likely to consult Elections Canada information sources for further clarification of the Act compared to independents (3%).

Over Three-Quarters Satisfied with Information Obtained

Satisfatction with information obtainedMore than three-quarters (79%) of surveyed candidates who report using Elections Canada information services (n=840) said they were satisfied with the information they (or their representatives) obtained, 43% of which reported being very satisfied. As well, 12% report being neutral, while only 6% expressed dissatisfaction.

Respondents were more likely to be satisfied with information obtained from Elections Canada if they were also satisfied with the administration of the election (from 46% of those dissatisfied to 88% of those satisfied), the performance of the returning officer (44% of those dissatisfied vs. 86% of those satisfied), and the overall quality of service received from Elections Canada (36% of those dissatisfied vs. 89% of those satisfied). Satisfaction with the information received did not vary by candidate demographic characteristics.

Widespread Recall of All Candidate Documents

A majority of candidates recall receiving documents from their returning officer. Most respondents recall receiving the voters' lists (93%), followed by the authorisation forms for representative appointments (86%), the 'Guidelines for Candidates' Representatives' (83%), and a copy of the 'Canada Elections Act' (81%).

Recall of candidate documnets

Candidates were less likely to recall receiving the 'Multimedia Kit for Federal Political Entities'. It should be noted that this was also the document they were most unsure about having received 23% were uncertain about this versus 11% or less for others.

Candidates most likely to recall receiving 'The Multimedia Kit for Federal Political Entities' include:

  • Quebec candidates (72%) compared to those in Ontario (63%)
  • Men (69%) versus women (59%)
  • Those not elected (68%) versus those that were elected (54%)
  • Members of parties not represented in the HOC (77%) or independents (78%) versus members of HOC-represented parties (59%)
  • First-time (68%) and two-time (71%) candidates compared to those who have run at least three times (59%).

As well, the likelihood of recalling the kit decreased as the age of candidates increased (from 80% of those under 30 to 71% of those 30 to 49 and to 61% of those 50 and older).

Candidates most likely to recall receiving the authorization forms related to the appointment of representatives include:

  • Members of HOC-represented political parties (89%) compared to members of parties not represented in the HOC (81%)
  • Those that attended the "all candidates briefing" (88%) compared to those who did not attend (80%).

Candidates most likely to recall receiving a copy of the Canada Elections Act include:

  • Those in Quebec (85%) and the Prairies (84%) compared to those in B.C. (74%)
  • French candidates (86%) compared to English candidates (79%)
  • Members of HOC-represented parties (82%) and independents (92%) compared to members of parties not represented in the HOC (76%).

Candidates in Quebec (97%) were slightly more likely to recall receiving the voters' lists compared to those in Ontario (93%), the Prairies (90%) and B.C. (90%). Recall of the list was also more likely among candidates who speak French (97% vs. 92% of Anglophones), and attended the "all candidates briefing" (95% vs. 87% of those that did not attend).

No demographic differences presented themselves in terms of recalling receipt of the 'Guidelines for Candidates' Representatives'. Respondents that were dissatisfied with the administration of the election were less likely to recall receiving these guidelines (72% vs. 83% of those satisfied and 86% of those with a neutral view). On the other hand, those that were satisfied with the overall quality of service from Elections Canada (85%) were more likely than those not satisfied (71%) to recall receiving the guidelines.



Candidates were told the following before being asked the remaining questions in this section:

"For the following questions, we refer to you personally, but they could also include anyone from your campaign team if you had one".

Four in Ten Used CEO Letter to Facilitate Public Access

Use of CEO letter to facilitate access to public placesIn total, 40% of candidates report having used the letter signed by the Chief Electoral Officer to facilitate access to public places by candidates and their campaign workers (available on the Elections Canada website). Conversely, almost half (49%) did not use this letter, while 9% report not being aware of it.

Respondents in Ontario (45%), Quebec (39%), and B.C. (43%) were more likely to have used this letter compared to those in Atlantic Canada (26%). Those aged 50 or older (42%) were more likely than those 30 to 49 (35%) to have used it. Respondents that attended the "all candidates briefing" (42%) were also more likely to have used the letter compared to those who did not attend (31%).

Many Used Polling Division Maps, Paper Format Dominated

Most-used polling division map formatOverall, 85% of candidates report using maps of polling divisions in at least one of the two available formats. More specifically, 57% used the paper format only, 19% used the CD format only, and 9% used both formats. A further 12% did not use the polling division maps, while 3% report being unsure.

Using the paper format most often was more likely among the following candidates:

  • Those in Atlantic Canada (71%) and the Prairies (61%) compared to B.C. (55%), Ontario (57%), and Quebec (49%).
  • Anglophone candidates (59%) compared to Francophone candidates (46%).
  • Those that attended the "all candidates briefing" (60%) compared to those who did not attend (45%).

Few Used GeoExplore, Though Most Plan to Next Time

Almost one in five (19%) candidates report using the "GeoExplore" web mapping toolFootenote 11 provided to them by Elections Canada. The majority, however, were aware of this tool but did not use it (61%). A further 16% were unaware of "GeoExplore", while 5% were unsure.

Candidates were more likely to have used GeoExplore if they:

  • were elected (31%) compared to those that were not elected (18%)
  • belonged to a HOC-represented political party (25%) compared to members of other parties (10%) and independents (14%), and
  • had attended the "all candidates briefing" (21%) compared to those who did not (14%).

As well, the likelihood of using this tool increased with age (from 9% of those under 30 to 19% of those 30 to 49 and 21% of those 50 and older). Candidates in Quebec (20% were not aware) were less likely than those in Ontario to be aware of this tool (13% were not aware).

Use pf 'GeoExplore'The vast majority of candidates that did not use or were not aware of "GeoExplore" in the 40th federal general election (n = 708) expressed interest in using it in future elections (84%). About one in ten (9%) said they would not use it, while 6% indicated being unsure, and 1% do not plan to run in the next election.

Candidates were more likely to express interest in using "GeoExplore" in the future if they were in B.C. (89%) compared to Atlantic Canada (76%), had attended the "all candidates briefing" (86%) compared to those who had not (78%), and were under 50 years of age (90% of those under 30 and 90% of those 30 to 49 vs. 78% of those 50 and older). Interest in using this tool in the future decreased as the number of candidacies increased (from 86% of first-time candidates to 84% of two-time candidates and 78% of those who ran at least three times).

Two-thirds Used Voters' Lists

Anticipated future use of 'GeoExplore'Approximately two-thirds (68%) of surveyed candidates report using the various voters' lists provided by Elections Canada (i.e. primary lists of electors, the revised lists, and the official lists). Conversely, 30% did not use the lists, while 2% report being unsure.

Candidates that were more likely to have used the voters' lists were:

  • those in Atlantic Canada (75%), Ontario (70%), and Quebec (69%) compared to those in B.C. (56%)
  • candidates that were elected (92%) versus those that were not (66%)
  • members of a HOC-represented party (80%) compared to members of other parties (51%) and independents (49%), and
  • those that attended the "all candidates briefing" (74%) compared to those who did not (46%).

The likelihood of having done this also increased with age (from 56% of those under 30 to 66% of those 30 to 49 and 71% of those 50 and older).

Calling Electors Most Frequent Use of Voters' Lists

Candidates who used the voters' lists (n = 594) report doing so for several reasons. The most common reason was calling electors to encourage them to vote and to offer them transportation, identified by 36%. Following this, one-quarter report using the lists for voter identification and verification, 21% for data matching, and 19% for door-to-door canvassing.

Use of voters' lists

Less common uses of voters' lists include mail-outs (6%), as a reference or for general information (3%), and to locate ethnic groups (2%). A further 7% report being unsure what the lists were used for.

Use of voters' lists for voter identification or verification was more likely among candidates from ridings in Atlantic Canada (35%) and the Prairies (33%) compared to those in Quebec (20%).

Use of the lists for data matching was more likely in Ontario (28%) compared to candidates in Atlantic Canada (16%), Quebec (15%), and the Prairies (16%).

Door-to-door canvassing was most common in Quebec (25%) and Ontario (21%) and less so in B.C. (13%) and the Prairies (12%). French candidates (28%) were also more likely than English candidates (16%) to have used the voters' lists in this way.

Majority Perceive Information Regarding List Quality to be Adequate

Specific uses of votres' listsGenerally, 61% of candidates felt that the information provided to them by Elections Canada regarding the quality of the preliminary voters' lists was adequate. That said, they were twice as likely to say it was moderately (41%) rather than very adequate (20%). About one in ten (11%) reported that the information was not adequate.

Slightly more than one-quarter (27%) report having no opinion about the adequacy of this information as they were either unsure (19%) or did not receive this information from the returning officer (8%).

Turning first to regional variations, candidates in Quebec were the least likely to consider the information about the preliminary lists to be very adequate (9% vs. 18% in the Prairies, 25% in B.C., 25% in Ontario, and 27% in Atlantic Canada). Members of non HOC-represented parties (26%) were more likely than members of other parties (16%) to consider this information very adequate.

In terms of attitudinal differences, those who considered the information to be very adequate were more likely to be satisfied with the performance of their returning officer (24% vs. 5% of those with a neutral view and 7% of those dissatisfied), the overall quality of service from Elections Canada (23% vs. 9% of those with a neutral view and 10% of those dissatisfied), and the overall administration of the election (25% vs. 10% of those with a neutral view and 6% of those dissatisfied).

More Than Half Satisfied With Overall Quality of Voters' Lists

More than half of surveyed candidates (55%) report being moderately or very satisfied with the overall quality of the voters' lists provided by their retuning officer. Almost one-quarter (24%) were neither satisfied nor dissatisfied, while 11% expressed dissatisfaction with the quality of the voters' lists. A further 10% of surveyed candidates were unsure or provided no response.

Adequacy of information about quality of preliminary lists?

Satisfaction with the overall quality of the voters' lists was more widespread in Quebec (61%) compared to Ontario (50%), and among Francophones (62%) compared to Anglophones (53%). As well, those who were satisfied with the voters' lists were more likely to be satisfied with the overall administration of the election (from 28% of those dissatisfied to 65% of those satisfied), the performance of the returning officer (from 33% of those dissatisfied to 60% of those satisfied), and the overall quality of service received from Elections Canada (from 27% of those dissatisfied to 63% of those satisfied).

Most Took Measures to Protect Personal Information on Voters' Lists

Satistfaction with overall quality of voters' listsMost candidates (86%) report taking at least some measures to protect the personal information contained on the voters' lists they received, while 8% took no such measures. Six percent report being unsure about whether their campaign team took any measures to protect such information.

Candidates in Quebec were the most likely to have taken measures to protect private information on the voters' lists (91%), compared to those in B.C. (80%). Such actions were also more likely among those under 50 years of age (90% of those under 30 and 90% of those 30 to 49 vs. 83% of those 50 and older), Francophones (91%) compared to Anglophones (85%), and those that attended the "all candidates briefing" (88%) versus those who did not attend (82%). As well, the more experienced the candidate, the less likely he/she was to have taken measures to protect private information (from 88% of first-time candidates to 87% of two-time candidates and 81% of those who ran three or more times).

Range of Measures Taken to Protect Private Information on Voters' Lists

Candidates who report taking measures to protect personal information on the voters' lists (n=753) were most likely to have ensured that the lists were destroyed after the election (26%). Most other security measures can be grouped into two categories keeping the lists in a secure location and controlling access to them.

Take any measures to protect personal information on voters' lists?

Measures that kept the lists in a secure location include keeping them in a secure place (15%), locked away (14%), in the candidates office (9%), and in the candidates home (5%). Access to the lists was controlled by giving instructions on their use (15%), limiting access to either the candidate, the campaign manager or official agent (15%), not sharing lists with anyone else (11%), limiting access in general (7%), and password protecting the files on a computer (3%).

Additional measures include issuing procedures to collect copies of the lists after an event (4%), and bringing the lists back to the returning officer (3%).

A number of demographic differences were apparent in terms of the measures taken to protect private information on the voters' lists. Ensuring the destruction of the lists was generally more likely as one moves westward (from 20% in Atlantic Canada to 25% in Quebec, 23% in Ontario, 29% in the Prairies, and 34% in B.C.), and among women (33%) compared to men (23%). Candidates in Ontario (18%) were more likely than those in Quebec (11%) to have kept the lists in a secure place, as were Anglophones (16%) compared to Francophones (10%).

Issuing instructions regarding the use of the lists was most common among respondents in Quebec (21%) compared to those in Atlantic Canada (10%), Ontario (12%) and the Prairies (13%), among Francophones (21%) compared to Anglophones (13%), among members of HOC-represented parties (18%) compared to members of other parties (11%), and independents (4%), and among those that attended the "all candidates briefing" (16%) compared to those that did not (9%).

Keeping the lists locked away was more likely among candidates in Atlantic Canada (22%) than those in Quebec (10%), and Anglophones (16%) compared to Francophones (10%). Candidates with less experience were also more likely to do this (from 17% of first-time candidates to 13% of two-time candidates and 7% of those who ran three times or more).

Mixed Perceptions of Usefulness of "Bingo Card"

Measures taken to protect voters' listsTwo thirds (67%) of candidates report using the "Bingo Card" Footenote 12. Bingo Card users (n = 587) expressed mixed perceptions of its usefulness. Although less than half (46%) found this tool to be useful, more than one-quarter (28%) said it was very useful. However, 20% were unsure or gave no response, 18% held a neutral view, and 16% thought the "Bingo Card" was not useful (16%).

The "Bingo card" was most likely to be useful to the following candidates:

  • Those in Quebec (40%) compared to B.C. (27%), Atlantic Canada (27%), Ontario (23%), and the Prairies (22%)
  • Francophones (43%) versus Anglophones (24%)
  • Those that were elected (69%) compared to those that were not (24%)
  • Members of HOC-represented parties (40%) compared to members of other parties (11%), and independents (8%)
  • Those that have run in more than two elections (37%) versus those that ran in only one (25%) or two (25%)
  • Those that had attended the "all candidates briefing" (31%) versus those that had not (16%).

As well, perceived usefulness of the "Bingo Card" increased with age (from 15% of those under 30 to 26% of those 30 to 49 and 31% of those 50 and older).

Most Satisfied with Overall Service Quality from Elections Canada

	percieved usefulness of 'Bingo Card'Overall, 79% of surveyed candidates report being either moderately or very satisfied with the overall quality of service they received from Elections Canada in the 40th federal election. Those who were not satisfied tended to hold a neutral view (16%) rather than a negative one (5%). Moreover, only 1% were very dissatisfied with the overall quality of service received from Elections Canada during the last election.

Perceptions of Elections Canada service quality did not vary among most sub-groups. That said, the following differences were evident: Candidates in Ontario (81%) were more likely than those in the Prairies (73%) to be satisfied with the overall quality of service they received. As well, satisfaction with the overall service quality became more likely as candidates were more satisfied with the administration of the election (from 22% of those dissatisfied to 95% of those satisfied) and the performance of their local returning officer (from 35% of those dissatisfied to 88% of those satisfied).


Footnote 11 This tool allows the user to locate civic addresses, streets, municipalities, electoral districts and other similar information.

Footnote 12 A statement of the electors who have voted on polling day. Respondents were read the following if they asked what this was: "This refers to the new form used to record the identifier number of electors who came to vote that was provided to the candidates or their representatives on a regular basis".