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Survey of Candidates of the 42nd Federal General Election

Executive Summary

  • Headed by the Chief Electoral Officer of Canada, Elections Canada is an independent, non-partisan agency of Parliament.
  • On October 19, 2015, the 42nd federal general election was held in Canada, and Elections Canada commissioned EKOS Research Associates to conduct a survey of all candidates who ran in the election.
  • A hybrid telephone-online survey with a total of 916 candidates was conducted (809 completed by phone, 107 completed online). This bilingual survey was done using a list of 1,791 candidates that was provided by Elections Canada.
  • The research objectives were to measure candidates' levels of satisfaction with Elections Canada's services during the 42nd federal general election and to learn about their experiences with the electoral process in general, particularly in light of the recent changes arising from Bill C-23 (the Fair Elections Act). Where relevant, the results from this 18-minute survey will be compared with the results from the surveys of candidates following the 40th and 41st federal general elections.

Key Findings

Overall Satisfaction with Election Services

  • Similar to results in the 2011 and 2008 election, just over two in three candidates (69 percent) said they were satisfied with the administration provided by Elections Canada in their riding. About three in four candidates (74 percent) expressed satisfaction with the overall quality of service from Elections Canada; slightly lower than in the 2008 and 2011 previous two elections, when 79 and 81 percent were satisfied.
  • Candidates' satisfaction with the way the returning officer ran the election in their riding was higher than their satisfaction with the way Elections Canada administered the election in their riding. While 69 percent of candidates were satisfied with Elections Canada's administration of the election in their riding, 78 percent of candidates were satisfied with the way the returning officer ran it. Likewise, more than 8 in 10 candidates were satisfied with their interactions with the returning officer (84 percent) and with the returning officer's timeliness in processing nominations (89 percent). Satisfaction with the way the returning officer ran the election is similar to that in previous elections.

Experience with Electoral Process Requirements

  • As in the 2011 and 2008 elections, most candidates did not have difficulty complying with the nomination requirements. Half of the candidates said they found it somewhat easy to comply with nomination requirements, and 3 in 10 found it to be very easy to comply. Of the candidates that had difficulties with the nomination process, the most prevalent reason cited was difficulty gathering required signatures.
  • Relatively few candidates encountered difficulties in finding official agents (17 percent) or an official auditor (10 percent). Of those who encountered difficulties, the most frequently cited reason was trouble finding someone willing or available to take on the role (68 and 48 percent for official agents and auditors, respectively). There was little change in the difficulty of finding official agents compared with the 2011 election.

Satisfaction with the Voting Process

  • Just over half of candidates were satisfied with the way the voting process went on the polling day and on advance voting days (56 percent), and two in three (64 percent) were satisfied with the locations chosen as polling sites for advance polls and on election day. The one in six (17 percent) who were dissatisfied with the voting process pointed primarily to long lineups at the advance polls. Candidates who were dissatisfied with the location of the polling sites (16 percent) noted multiple sources of dissatisfaction, with about one in three (32 percent) citing distance, inconvenience or difficulty in finding the station, and just under one in five pointing to problems related to accessibility of polling stations on polling day or at advance polls (19 percent and 17 percent, respectively), or inappropriate polling stations, or insufficient advance polling stations (17 percent in each case). Satisfaction with polling site locations is slightly lower than in the 2011 and 2008 elections.
  • Across all candidates, one-quarter witnessed problems related to the voter identification requirements, similar to the 2011 election and fewer than the 2008 election. Almost two in three (63 percent) said that they did not witness any problems, and the rest (11 percent) were not able to respond.

Perceptions of Elections Canada's Services and Products

  • Most candidates (84 percent) attended or were represented at the all candidates briefing. In just under half of these cases they attended personally, and in more than half of the cases the campaign manager attended. In a small proportion of cases the official agent attended. The briefing was largely considered useful according to 81 percent of candidates. Attendance at the all candidates briefing in 2015 was slightly higher than that in 2011 and 2008.
  • During the election, candidates most often contacted Elections Canada through their local Elections Canada office (80 percent). Just under two-thirds (64 percent) used the candidates' section of Elections Canada's website. Less than half (42 percent) contacted Elections Canada using the 1-800 support line for candidates. Candidates contacted the local office and used the 1-800 number at rates similar to those in the 2011 and 2008 elections. Between 7 and 8 in 10 candidates were satisfied with the services they received from Elections Canada through these avenues (69 percent with the 1-800 line, 71 percent with the website, and 82 percent with the local office).
  • Maps of polling divisions were made available by Elections Canada in various formats. Most candidates used the paper format (68 percent). Four in 10 used the PDF version (41 percent), while one in five (21 percent) used the online version. Maps were used most often (40 percent) to canvass door-to-door or to verify boundaries (28 percent) or search for an address (15 percent). The use of paper maps has increased somewhat from the 2011 election, when 56 percent used them in this format.
  • Two in three candidates (67 percent) reported using the updated list of polling stations provided by Elections Canada. Candidates show a slight preference for receiving the updated list of polling stations in electronic format (41 percent) rather than paper format (21 percent), although one in three (32 percent) said they liked both equally.
  • Two-thirds of candidates (66 percent) reported using lists of electors. Four in 10 (42 percent) reported using the lists to identify supporters, while nearly 3 in 10 (29 percent) used the lists for calling electors to encourage them to vote or offer transportation or for door-to-door canvassing (28 percent). Nearly two in three candidates (62 percent) who used the list of electors prefer the electronic format. Elections Canada provided information to candidates about the quality of the preliminary lists of electors. Half of candidates felt that this information was somewhat adequate (51 percent). Only 18 percent saw it as very adequate. Fourteen percent saw it as not very or not at all adequate. The percentage of candidates using the lists of electors has remained roughly stable since 2008.
  • Two-thirds of candidates used the bingo sheets; however, 34 percent did not recall or did not use the bingo sheets. Seven in 10 of the candidates who used the bingo sheets found them to be useful (29 percent) or very useful (41 percent). Over half of candidates who requested the bingo sheets did so on polling day or on advance voting days. Among those candidates who used the bingo sheets, about half (55 percent) used them on polling day and half (52 percent) used them at the advance polls. Another one in four (26 percent) used them after polling day. Of those who used them at advance polls, one-quarter (26 percent) took photos of the bingo sheets at the end of each day. Candidates' use of the bingo sheets has increased from the 2011 election back to levels seen in the 2008 election, and perceptions of their usefulness have remained stable compared with 2011.
  • Approximately one-third (34 percent) of candidates made use of the tools provided by Elections Canada for communicating with electors, and a majority of candidates had noticed the "Ready to Vote" campaign slogan, with 6 in 10 candidates recalling that they saw or heard the slogan during the election campaign.

Looking Forward

  • Candidates are split in their views of online voting. A slight majority of candidates support online voting (54 percent), but 40 percent do not agree that electors should be able to vote by using the Internet. Support for online voting has risen slightly at each election since 2008 (46 percent support in 2008 and 51 percent in 2011).