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2015 National Youth Survey

General Project Overview


Elections Canada is the independent, non-partisan agency responsible for conducting federal general elections, by-elections and referendums. Elections Canada commissioned the first National Youth Survey (NYS) following the May 2011 federal general election. The first large-scale study of its kind, the 2011 NYS provided detailed information on the motivational and access barriers that Canadian youth aged 18 to 34 experience that prevent them from voting. The study generated information on the voting behaviour of youth in general as well as different youth subgroups – namely, Aboriginal youth, ethnocultural youth, unemployed youth not in school, youth with disabilities and youth residing in rural areas. The results of the 2011 survey were subsequently used by Elections Canada to target and tailor its outreach activities and educational initiatives.

Understanding barriers to voting is essential for both Elections Canada and youth-serving organizations to be able to effectively reach out to youth and provide them with the information they need on where, when and the different ways to vote. The 2015 NYS was commissioned to update the findings following the 42nd general election, held on October 19, 2015. With the large representative sample and significant number of respondents from key subgroups, the NYS provides a unique portrait of youth voting behaviour in Canada.

Objectives and Scope of Survey

The purpose of the survey, which was national in scope, was to provide research findings to allow Elections Canada to better understand the access and motivational barriers to voting among Canadian youth aged 18 to 34, with additional information on subgroups. This, in turn, will help Elections Canada to target and tailor its information and outreach activities to these groups. Specific objectives included the following:

  • Determine to what extent electoral participation varies across key youth subgroups namely, Aboriginal youth, ethnocultural youth, youth residing in rural areas, youth with disabilities and unemployed youth who are not in school.
  • Identify the specific barriers that subgroups encounter that may limit their electoral participation.