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Survey of Electors Following the 42nd General Election

10. Identification at the Poll

Almost all voters found the identification requirements easy to meet, with the vast majority of voters using their driver's licence to meet their identification requirements. Attestation was used by only a handful of voters.

Virtually all voters (99%) had the required identification documents with them when they went to vote, a proportion essentially identical to both the 2008 (98%) and 2011 (99%) general elections.

Electors could prove their identity and address by using the following combinations of documents:

  • Option 1: Use one document that is self-sufficient with name, address and photo (i.e., driver's licence, provincial ID card or service card from British Columbia).
  • Option 2: One document that proves identity and one document that proves identity and address (health card of MB or YK, utility bill, bank statement, etc.), or two documents that prove identity and address.
  • Option 3: Two documents that prove identity (health card, Canadian passport, birth certificate, etc.) and have someone else attest to their address.

Ninety-three percent (93%) of voters used option 1, and three percent (3%) used option 2 (Figure 10.1). Options 3 was rarely used; fewer than one percent of surveyed voters indicating that they relied on this option. According to the data collected, the remaining four percent (4%) of voters either didn't remember or mentioned an invalid combination of identification documents. Significant differences were observed for Aboriginal electors and electors with a disability.

Figure 10.1: Identification Options Used by Voters

Figure 10.1: Identification Options Used by Voters
Text description of "Identification Options Used by Voters"

Source: Survey of the 42nd General Election – Question 57.

Base: Voters who had the required identification documents when they voted.

  • Aboriginal Electors: Aboriginal voters were less prone to have chosen option 1 to prove their identity and address in order to vote (80%) than non-Aboriginal voters (93%). Aboriginal voters were more likely to use option 2 in order to vote than non-Aboriginal voters (5%, versus 3%).
  • Electors with a Disability: A smaller proportion (84%) of voters with a disability used a document from option 1 to vote than voters who did not have a disability (94%). Voters with a disability appear to be more likely to have used option 2 in order to vote than voters without disability (6%, versus 2%). (Results on identification options were not significant statistically.)
  • Income: Voters from lower-income households were less likely to say they chose option 1 to prove their identity and address in order to vote (83%) than voters from middle-income (95%) and higher-income households (97%). Voters from lower-income households were significantly more likely to mention opting for option 2 (8%) than voters from middle-income (2%) and higher-income households (1%).

Just over nine in ten (91%) used their driver's licence to meet the identification requirements. A provincial health card from a province that showed only the name on the cardFootnote 35 was used by thirteen percent (13%) of respondents, while another one percent (1%) used a health card from Manitoba or Yukon as proof of identity and address (Table 10.1). Five percent (5%) of voters said that they used their Canadian passport as proof of identity, while three percent (3%) mentioned using their utility bill as proof of address. The birth certificate was cited as proof of identity by 2% of respondents.

While the VIC was not an acceptable proof of identity and residence, eleven percent (11%) indicated that they used their VIC.Footnote 36 However, of those most (90%) indicated having proven their identification using one of the three options.

These results are quite similar to what was observed in the 2011 elector survey, following the same order in terms of most-used documents to prove identity and address. The vast majority (90%) of electors said they use their driver's licence. The other types of documents mentioned in the 2011 survey were a health card (16%), the voter information card (14%), a Canadian passport (6%) or a utility bill (4%). When compared with the 2008 elector survey, the only significant difference is the proportion of electors who used the VIC (3%), which fell from third to fourth rank in most-used documents to prove identity and address.

Table 10.1: Documentation Used to Prove Identity and Address
Q57: What one or two documents did you use to prove your identity and address? Most-mentioned pieces of identification Total
(n=2,480)
Driver's licence 91%
Health card of AB, PE, NB, NS, NU, ON, QC, SK, NL or NT 13%
Voter information card (VIC) 11%
Canadian passport 5%
Utility bill 3%
Birth certificate 2%

Notes:
1) Answers with 1% or less were excluded from this table.
2) The VIC was not accepted as a piece of identification in 2015.

Base: Voters only.

The identification provided did differ significantly between socio-demographic groups:

  • Aboriginal Electors: Aboriginal electors were less likely than non-Aboriginal electors to use a driver's licence as identification to vote (75%, versus 91%). Fourteen percent (14%) of Aboriginal electors said that they used their Indian status card as proof of identity.
  • Electors with a Disability: Electors with a disability were less likely than electors with no disability to use a driver's licence (79% versus 93%).
  • Income: Voters from higher- and medium-income households were more likely to use their driver's licence as identification (96% and 94%, respectively) than voters from lower-income households (80%).
  • Region: Voters from Québec were more likely to have used their health card (29%) than voters from the rest of Canada (8%).

Overall, almost all (99%) voters felt that meeting the identification requirements was a simple process, with ninety-two percent (92%) of respondents indicating that it was very easy and seven percent (7%) indicating that it was somewhat easy to meet the requirements.Footnote 37 There are no significant differences among subgroups (Figure 10.2). Compared with the 2011 and 2008 general elections, there is a decrease in the perception of the ease with which voters could meet the identification requirement (97% and 98%, respectively).

Figure 10.2: Perceived Ease with Which Electors Were Able to Meet the Identification Requirements

Figure 10.2: Perceived Ease with Which Electors Were Able to Meet the Identification Requirements
Text description of "Perceived Ease with Which Electors Were Able to Meet the Identification Requirements"

Base: Voters only.

  • Region: Voters living in the Territories were significantly less likely to say that meeting the identification requirement was very easy (76%) than in other provinces (92%). Nevertheless, there was not a definite difference between voters from the Territories and those from others provinces when the proportion of voters who thought it was very and somewhat easy to meet the identification requirement were combined (95%, versus 99% for the other provinces).

Footnote 35 These provinces are: Alberta, Prince Edward Island, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Nunavut, Ontario, Québec, Saskatchewan, Newfoundland, or the Northwest Territories.

Footnote 36 For the 2011 general election, Elections Canada accepted in all electoral districts the voter information card (VIC) for identification purposes at polling sites serving seniors' residences, long-term care facilities, Aboriginal reserves and on-campus student residences. Changes brought by Bill C-23 prohibited the use of the VIC for identification purposes in 2015. The VIC was also not an accepted piece of identification in 2008.

Footnote 37 The order in which this question was asked varied, with half of respondents being asked about the difficulty of meeting identification requirements prior to being asked about the specific identification used, and half being asked after the question about the specific identification used. No difference was found based on when respondents were asked this question.