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Voting at Select Campuses, Friendship Centres and Community Centres, 42nd General Election

4. Observations and Measures

To evaluate the success of the pilot project, during operating days, Elections Canada gathered statistics on voter participation at each office and distributed surveys to electors who used the service, the general public and electoral staff. Elections Canada monitored traditional and social media to detect issues and trends. After the event, feedback was solicited from stakeholder groups.

4.1. Voter participation

Voter participation was the main performance indicator of the pilot project. It was the principal way of determining whether the pilot project had improved the accessibility of the voting process.

Table 1. Measurements by day of operation
Scope Daily measures Oct. 5 Oct. 6 Oct. 7 Oct. 8 Total
Registrations and voting Special ballot applications completed and ballots cast
(local electors)
2,415 2,917 4,242 6,031 15,605
Registrations and voting Special ballot applications completed and ballots cast
(national electors)
7,447 11,240 14,483 21,456 54,626
Revision Revisions performed (local electors) 45 113 370 697 1,225

*Revision: The 28-day revision period usually begins 33 days before election day and ends at 6:00 p.m. on the sixth day before election day. During the revision period, electors may correct their names and addresses on the lists of electors, add their names to those lists, ask to remove their names, etc.

Overall participation

A total of 70,231 electors registered and voted at these locations. The voter turnout equates to 9 percent of the population of the institutions served. The overall daily turnout increased by approximately 30 percent each day.

Participation by specific groups

Of the 70,231 ballots cast at the offices in campuses, Friendship Centres and community centres, 78 percent were cast by national electors (those voting outside their electoral districts) and 22 percent by local electors (those voting within their electoral districts). The pilot project generated approximately one third of the 150,000 national ballots cast during the 42nd general election. The high proportion of national electors demonstrates that the service aided electors voting outside of their electoral districts.

Average turnout rates varied greatly among the types of institutions hosting the offices:

Various factors may explain why turnout was higher at post-secondary institutions. One explanation is that most post-secondary institutions have student associations that help mobilize and engage students, which made outreach more prevalent on campuses than at other institutions. According to the elector data gathered during the four days of operations, a large part of student populations are national electors, who face accessibility barriers to voting in their own electoral districts.

Lineups

Voters at several offices encountered lineups. In almost all cases, these lineups were no longer than an hour. The delays were largely attributable to the relatively slow registration process and the fact that arrivals tended to cluster around certain peak times (for example, between classes).

Identification requirements

There were no widespread issues reported with the requirement for voters to provide acceptable proof of identity and address. The Elections Canada Support Network needed to assist staff in fewer than 10 cases, where the voter's identification listed a post office box.

Presence of candidates and representatives

Though some candidates or their representatives observed proceedings at these offices, their presence was modest—on each day, between 9 and 16 offices reported their presence, in most cases reporting one single representative.

Visits from candidates and representatives
Number of offices that received visits from candidates or their representatives

Promotion by student groups

Many universities and colleges had already planned campaigns to promote voting, independent of Elections Canada. In particular, the Canadian Federation of Students sent organizers to every campus that hosted offices to encourage students to use them. Elections Canada encouraged the Federation's leaders to coordinate their efforts with their local Elections Canada offices. Feedback from the leaders on their interaction with local staff was very positive.

Some student groups held their own initiative and put up signs offering incentives to students who planned to vote. One group also paid to have a band play. These types of promotion were deemed legitimate and did not include any involvement from Elections Canada.

4.2. Elector surveys

Exit surveys of electors were conducted at these offices, and Elections Canada reviewed approximately 8,600 responses.Footnote 4

Overall, the surveys indicated a very positive response. Convenience and ability to vote while away from one's home electoral district were recurring themes. A few electors expressed dissatisfaction with the wait times at some locations, but most rated them as "satisfactory" and "very satisfactory."

Among survey respondents, 8,566 (99.4 percent) agreed that the offices were a convenient way to vote. A quarter of electors (about 2,000) said they would not have voted, or were not sure if they would have voted, had these offices not been available.

These statistics suggest that the pilot project achieved its overall objective of making the voting process more accessible.

Elections Canada also conducted site population surveys, which revealed the following main reasons why electors did not use the services offered at the offices:

4.3. Stakeholder feedback

On the closing day of the pilot project, surveys were issued to AAROs and their staff. After the event, feedback was solicited from internal stakeholders, including returning officers and representatives from various sectors within Elections Canada. External stakeholder feedback was also sought from the institutions and student associations.

Overall, internal stakeholders reported that communication and co-operation among the various groups was generally good. Mainly, their constructive feedback was related to increasing procedural efficiencies, both at Elections Canada Headquarters and in the field, to accommodate a potentially larger scope if the pilot project is repeated in the future.


Footnote 4 Elections Canada received approximately 15,000 completed elector surveys. However, with limited resources for the evaluation, the agency determined that it had established a sound baseline and trend after examining 8,600 surveys.