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Survey of Candidates Following the 40th General Election

Future Directions

This section explores candidates' perceptions on the appropriateness of online technology as it relates to voter participation, as well as suggestions for improving the conduct of future federal elections.

Three-quarters Support Online Elector Registration

Should electors be able to register online?Exactly three-quarters (75%) of surveyed candidates felt that electors should be allowed to register online. One in five candidates (20%) disagreed with this, and 6% report being unsure.

Support for online elector registration was highest outside of Quebec (70% in Quebec vs. 75% in Ontario, 75% in B.C., 78% in the Prairies, and 81% in Atlantic Canada), among candidates under 50 years of age (80% of those under 30 and 78% of those 30 to 49 vs. 71% of those 50 or older), and members of a political party (76% of members of HOC-represented parties and 74% of members of other parties vs. 54% of independents).

Candidates Divided Over Use of Online Voting

Should electors be able to vote online?Slightly less than half (46%) expressed support for electors voting online, while 48% did not. A further 6% report being uncertain.

Support for online voting was higher in Ontario (50%) and B.C. (55%) compared to Quebec (41%), among candidates aged 30 to 49 (54%) compared to those under 30 (40%) and those 50 and older (43%), those that were not elected (48%) versus those that were (31%), and members of political parties (46% of members of HOC-represented parties and 49% of members of other parties vs. 30% of independents). Support for this declines as candidates were more experienced (from 50% for first-time candidates to 38% for those most experienced).

Suggestions to Improve Conduct of Federal Elections

Candidates offered numerous suggestions as to how the conduct of federal elections could be improved. No single suggestion clearly stands out given that none was offered by more than 8% of respondents. However, these suggestions can be grouped into four categories a) administrative suggestions (23%), b) voting or registration changes (48%), c) communications issues (8%), and d) political financing (2%).

Suggestions to improve conduct of federal elections

With regards to administrative issues, candidates suggested better training of Elections Canada staff (8%), reducing paperwork or bureaucracy (5%), adding polling locations (3%), increasing the timeframe for voting and elections (3%), having greater penalties for breaching regulations (2%), and reducing the cost of holding elections (2%).

Suggestions pertaining to voting and registration include exploring or introducing online voting (8%), adopting proportional representation (7%), improving voter access or removing barriers (6%), reducing voter eligibility requirements (5%), implementing efforts to increase voter turnout (5%), using electronic voter registration (3%), a return to door-to-door enumeration (3%), better voter list accuracy (3%), introducing alternative voting methods in general (2%), ensuring voters are fully aware of new identification requirements (2%), holding elections on weekends (2%), and establishing a fixed election date (2%).

In terms of communications matters, candidates referred to having more election advertising (3%), more accessible information for candidates and voters (3%), and better organized information on the Elections Canada web site (2%).

In terms of political financing, a few suggested providing more financial support for new or small parties (2%).

A large number of diverse suggestions were offered by fewer than 2% of candidates and are grouped in the 'other' category. These include, but are not limited to, having more voting officers at the polling stations, reducing the nomination fee or deposit, issuing a permanent voter's card, taking efforts to prevent long line-ups at polls, requiring voters to provide proof of citizenship, consistently enforcing regulations, improving software used for financial reporting, giving greater attention candidate complaints, having better riding maps, expanding advance voting, stopping abuse of campaign expenses, marking voters with ink, lowering the voting age, holding candidates to their promises, candidate consultations/interviews, limiting the use of campaign signs, ensuring access at polls for disabled Canadians, and providing election results in shorter time.