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Public Opinion Survey Following the May 13, 2013 Labrador By-election

Executive Summary

On May 13, 2013, a by-election was held in Labrador. Elections Canada commissioned EKOS Research Associates to conduct public opinion research with electors (eligible voters) in this riding in the days immediately following the by-election. A telephone survey was conducted between May 21 and 29, 2013 with a total of 757 eligible voters. Results can be considered to be accurate to within +/-3.6 percent, 19 times out of 20.

Awareness of by-elections

  • Awareness of the May 13, 2013 by-election was universal among Labrador electors (100 percent).
  • Television (65 percent), radio (39 percent), and newspapers (26 percent) were the most commonly cited sources of information about the by-election. Word of mouth was also an important way of learning about the by-election (22 percent). One in ten electors noticed sources specific to Elections Canada, including the householder brochure (six percent) and the Voter information card (five percent).

Information and advertising

  • The majority of voters learned about voting procedures from an Elections Canada source, primarily the VIC (50 percent), but also the householder (seven percent), previous elections (four percent), at the polling station (two percent), from a general EC source (two percent), the EC website (one percent), and a local EC office (one percent). One in five found out through media like television (10 percent), radio (nine percent), and newspapers (seven percent).
  • More than one in three electors (35 percent) recall seeing or hearing some advertising by Elections Canada about the by-election. Electors who noticed this advertising most often saw it in newspapers (33 percent) and heard it on the radio (18 percent). Although Elections Canada does not produce television ads for by-elections, 14 percent recall a TV ad for this by election.
  • Two in five could not recall the main message of the advertisement (40 percent). One-quarter recalls the advertising mentioned the date of the election (24 percent). Seventeen percent recall a reminder to go to vote.

Interaction with Elections Canada

  • Few electors contacted Elections Canada during the campaign (five percent). Among those who contacted Elections Canada, 86 percent said they got the information they needed.
  • Although Elections Canada does not call electors to inform them about where or when to vote during elections, 17 percent of electors indicated, when asked, that they recalled having received a telephone call from Elections Canada during the campaign informing them about where and when to vote during the by-election. The self-reported turnout among these electors was not significantly different from the overall population.

Voter information card and registration

  • Most electors in each riding received a voter information card (VIC) addressed to them personally, telling them where and when to vote (87 percent).
  • Almost all of these electors indicated that their name (96 percent) and address (96 percent) were correct as written on the VIC. Of those who received a VIC with incorrect personal information, half (49 percent) did something to correct the information.
  • More than half of electors who received a VIC in the mail could not recall any specific information that was provided on the card other than information on where and when to vote (56 percent). Some recalled seeing their polling station number (14 percent), information about advance polls (10 percent), and a message about identification (10 percent).
  • Two in five electors who did not receive a voter information card (41 percent) did nothing specific to find out whether they were registered to vote in the by-election. More than one-quarter (28 percent) found out at the polling station or at an Elections Canada office.
  • The majority of voters who received a VIC took their VIC with them to vote (63 percent).


  • As is usually the case in election-related surveys, a higher proportion of respondents claim to have voted in the by-election (82 percent) compared to actual voter turnout (60 percent).Footnote 1
  • Similarly, when asked whether they had voted in the May 2, 2011 federal general election, almost as many (78 percent) said they had voted, compared to actual voter turnout of 53 percent in Labrador in 2011.


  • Three in four non-voters (67 percent) did not vote due to personal reasons such as lack of interest/apathy (15 percent), travelling (14 percent), work (12 percent), and being too busy (nine percent).
  • Seven in ten electors who did not vote say they would have voted (62 percent) or maybe would have voted (eight percent) had there been the option to vote online.
  • One in five non-voters (22 percent) say nothing in particular can encourage them to vote in the next election, but one in ten (10 percent) suggest online voting could encourage them.


  • Almost all electors were aware that they must present proof of identity in order to vote in a federal election (93 percent).
  • One in four electors became aware of the voter identification requirements as a result of receiving a VIC in the mail (26 percent). Other top sources of this information were experience of a previous election (19 percent), experience/knowledge generally, and word of mouth (17 percent).
  • Virtually everyone who was aware of the proof of identification and address requirements and went to vote had the required documents with them (95 percent), though five percent did not have the required documents.
  • Most electors presented a driver's licence as proof of identity and address when they went to vote (86 percent). Seventeen percent of electors presented other documents as their first or second proof of identification or address.
  • Six percent presented a voter information card as proof of identification.Footnote 2 Among these, just over one in three also presented their driver's licence.
  • Almost everyone feels that it is either very easy (85 percent) or somewhat easy (13 percent) to meet the identification requirements to vote.

Voter experience

  • Among those who voted at a polling station on election day, most voters travelled from home (69 percent), while three in ten travelled from their workplace (29 percent). Among those who voted at the advance polls, more left from home to vote (77 percent) compared to those who voted on election day.
  • Virtually all electors found the distance to travel to vote to be convenient for them (96 percent). Only a very small number (one percent) had any difficulty reaching their polling station or EC office.
  • Eight in ten electors voted at a polling station on election day (81 percent). Some voted at advance polls (16 percent) but few voted at a local Elections Canada office (three percent).
  • More than half of electors were not aware that it is possible to vote by mail at any time during a federal election (55 percent).
  • All electors surveyed (100 percent) were served in English. Nearly everyone (99 percent) was satisfied with the language in which they were served.
  • Almost all voters thought that voting was either very easy (84 percent) or somewhat easy (12 percent).
  • Overall, 99 percent of voters were satisfied with the services provided by EC staff when they voted (including 88 percent who were very satisfied and 11 percent who were somewhat satisfied).
  • Most (94 percent) had the perception that Elections Canada staff where they voted were well trained, including 49 percent who thought staff seemed very well trained.


  • Nearly everyone (99 percent) said that the building where they voted was accessible, including nine in ten who found it very accessible and a further one in ten who found it somewhat accessible.
  • About one in ten overall (12 percent) say there were not enough directional signs outside the building to help them find the entrance. Almost everyone (94 percent) says there were enough signs inside the building to direct them to the polling station.
  • Signs indicating level access for wheelchairs were noticed by 48 percent. Most of those who saw these signs say they were highly visible (77 percent), and one in five (20 percent) say they were somewhat visible.

Trust in election process

  • Seven in ten electors feel the by-election was run fairly by Elections Canada (71 percent) and a further 20 percent say it was run somewhat fairly. Just three percent felt it was run somewhat or very unfairly. These results are slightly better than those for the 2011 general election, when 65 percent felt it was run very fairly and 25 percent felt that the election was run somewhat fairly, and the same proportion felt the election was somewhat or very unfairly run.

Footnote 1 Previous post-election surveys by Elections Canada have also found that reported election participation is higher than actual voter turnout. These incongruities are likely due to a combination of sample and social desirability biases.

Footnote 2 In the May 13, 2013 by-election, the voter information card was accepted as one of two pieces of authorized identification at polling stations located in long-term care facilities, in seniors' residences, on First Nations reserves and in students' residences located on campus.