open Secondary menu

Survey of Electors – Whitby–Oshawa / Yellowhead By-elections

Section 1: Awareness and sources of information

This section focuses on the respondents' level of awareness of the by-elections and on how they accessed information on various topics. Particularly, we will discuss awareness of voting procedures and voting options, the reach of Elections Canada advertising campaigns (radio, print and web), and voters' interaction with EC.

Awareness of the by-elections was generally high across all groups, although it was affected by factors such as age group and employment status. Newspaper, TV and radio were the most recalled sources of information. The first two had a positive correlation to age and the latter was fairly even among all age groups.

About a third of the respondents recalled seeing advertising from EC. Traditional media were mentioned by a higher proportion of respondents. Newspapers were where most respondents remembered seeing the advertisement followed by radio and televisionFootnote 4. The most remembered topic was the election date.

The voter information card (VIC) received in the mail was the most important source of information about voting procedures for over two thirds of electors. Virtually all respondents knew about the proof of identity requirement, and proof of address requirement was known to four in five respondents. Most respondents who were aware of the elections did not contact EC, but among those who did, three quarters found the information they were looking for.

1.1 Awareness of by-elections

Overall, awareness of the by-elections was noticeably high. Nine in ten (91%) respondents were aware that federal by-elections took place on November 17. Awareness was significantly higher in Whitby–Oshawa, where 95% of respondents were aware of the by-elections as compared to 86% in Yellowhead.

1.1.1 Awareness of by-elections
Text version of "1.1.1 Awareness of by-elections"

  • Age was definitely a factor influencing awareness. Relatively lower proportions of 18-34 year olds (79%) were aware of the by-elections compared to 94% among those 35 to 54 years old and 96% among those over 55.
  • Awareness was also higher among respondents who either work (91%) or stay at home/retired (94%) when compared to those who were unemployed (79%) or students (77%).

The three most recalled sources of information about the by-elections were newspapers, TV and radio with nearly three quarters (73%) mentioning at least one of those three media. Particularly, almost half of the respondents (47%) remembered reading about the election on the newspaper while 38% saw it on TV and 33% heard it on the radio. Other popular sources were candidates or parties' elections signs (18%), word of mouth (15%), voter information card (14%), and the EC householder brochure (14%).

1.1.2 Source of Information about the by-elections
Text version of "1.1.2 Source of Information about the by-elections"

Specific demographic characteristics had a significant effect on the type of media used.

  • Newspapers and TV were positively correlated to the respondents' age. Only one in three (32%) younger respondents mentioned newspaper as a source, compared to half (48%) of those 35 to 54 and six in ten (58%) respondents over 55. Likewise, TV was mentioned by only 27% of the younger respondents but by nearly half of those over 55 (47%).
  • Mentions of television were also significantly higher in Whitby–Oshawa (45%) than in Yellowhead (29%).
  • Mentions of both newspaper and TV were higher among those with a disability.
  • Aboriginal respondents were more likely to recall the radio as a source than the rest of the population (56% compared to 32%). Employment status was also a factor in radio usage. Over one third of those working mentioned radio (36%) but only one in ten (11%) students and two in ten (21%) unemployed mentioned it.
  • Word of mouth as a source of information was significantly more common among youth (23%) than among middle aged (11%) and older respondents (13%). Not surprisingly, students were also more likely to mention word of mouth (44%) than those working (14%), unemployed (17%) or retired (12%).
  • Women were more likely than men to mention the voter information card. Nearly two in ten (18%) mentioned it, compared to one in ten men (11%).

While comparing the two ridings, electors in Whitby–Oshawa were more likely to hear about the by-elections on TV, candidates'/parties' election signs, online and on posters/signs/billboards, while the voter information card was significantly more popular among Yellowhead electors.

Table 1.1: Source of information about the by-elections by riding
Source of awareness Total Whitby–Oshawa Yellowhead
Newspaper 47% 47% 48%
TV 38% 45% 29%
Radio 33% 34% 31%
Candidates/parties election signs 18% 21% 14%
Word of mouth 15% 14% 16%
Voter information card 14% 10% 19%
EC householder – brochure/leaflet/reminder card 14% 14% 13%
Internet: other websites 7% 9% 5%
Posters/signs/billboards (unspecified) 6% 9% 4%
Social media 5% 4% 5%
Other 2% 2% 2%
Don't know/refused 2% 2% 2%

1.2 Advertising by Elections Canada

Overall, one third of respondents (34%) noticed advertisement from Elections Canada about the November 17 by-elections. Electors from Whitby–Oshawa were significantly more likely to have noticed them (40%) than those in Yellowhead (27%).

1.2.1 Reach of Elections Canada's Advertisement
Text version of "1.2.1 Reach of Elections Canada's Advertisement"

  • Older respondents were significantly more likely to have noticed advertising from EC. Nearly two in five respondents (39%) noticed them compared to one in three (33%) among middle aged and young (29%). Men (38%) were also more likely to have noticed EC's advertising than women (29%).
  • Over half (53%) of Aboriginal respondents noticed advertisement from EC compared to one third (33%) of the general population. Over four in ten (43%) respondents with a disability noticed ads compared to one in three (33%) respondents without a disability.
  • Respondents who voted in the by-elections were more likely to have seen EC advertising than those who did not (41% vs. 23%).

Most respondents recalled seeing the advertisement in the newspaper (59%). One in five recalled hearing them on radio (22%) or seeing them on television (19%).

1.2.2 Election Canada's Advertisement Noticed Via...
Text version of "1.2.2 Election Canada's Advertisement Noticed Via..."

  • As expected, age is positively correlated to noticing advertisement in the newspapers. Only a third of youth (33%) noticed it compared to nearly six in ten (57%) middle aged and three in four (75%) older respondents. Conversely, a quarter of youth and a third of middle aged respondents noticed advertising on the radio compared to only 9% of older respondents. Youth are also more likely to have notice advertisement on TV (29%) than older age groups (17% and 16%).
  • Older respondents were more likely to have mentioned the voter information card than younger respondents (8% vs. 3% of middle aged and 2% of younger respondents). When it comes to Internet, residents from Whitby–Oshawa (5%) were more likely to have seen advertisement from EC than residents from Yellowhead (1%).
  • Close to two-thirds of respondents who voted in the by-elections remembered seeing advertising in a newspaper (65%) compared to less than half (44%) of those who did not vote.

There were some noticeable differences in the two ridings in terms of media on which the Elections Canada's advertisement was noticed. Newspapers were more effective in Yellowhead (65%) than in Whitby–Oshawa (55%), but the opposite is true for radio and television. One quarter of the residents from Whitby–Oshawa noticed the advertisement on the radio (26%) or TV (24%) compared to 16% and 11% from Yellowhead.

Table 1.2: Media where advertisement was noticed
Media where ad was noticed Total Whitby–Oshawa Yellowhead
Newspaper 59% 55% 65%
Radio 22% 26% 16%
Television 19% 24% 11%
Voter information card 5% 4% 5%
EC householder - brochure / leaflet /reminder card 4% 4% 4%
Email/Internet (unspecified) 3% 5% 1%
Billboards/bulletin boards/outdoor signs 3% 3% 3%
Media/news (unspecified) 3% 2% 4%
Other 2% 2% 2%
Don't know/Refusal 3% 2% 4%

The most recalled topic from EC's advertisement was the election date (44%), consistently remembered across all groups. Other topics included the reminder to vote (23%), the requirement of proof of ID and address (17%), polling stations' opening hours (12%), advance polling dates (12%), where to vote (10%) and general information about elections (7%).

1.2.3 Contents of Election Canada's Advertisement
Text version of "1.2.3 Contents of Election Canada's Advertisement"

  • The youth were less likely to remember the requirement of proof of ID and address (only 8% recalled it compared to one in five from other age groups 19% for 35-54 and 20% for 55+); and the advance polling dates (3% vs. 12% and 17%, respectively); but they were more likely to remember the names of candidates and political parties (11% vs. 2% and 4%, respectively). Elections Canada does not mention the names of candidates and political parties in its advertising, suggesting recall error among those who mentioned it.
  • Women were more likely to remember polling station opening hours (16% vs. 9%) and advance polling dates (17% vs. 9%) than men.

Both ridings were fairly comparable in terms of the most commonly recalled topics from Elections Canada's advertisements. Electors from Whitby–Oshawa were more likely to remember the advance polling dates (15% vs. 7%) and general information about the election (10% vs. 3%) than respondents from Yellowhead; but they were less likely to remember where to vote (7% compared to 16%).

Table 1.3: Content of the advertisement
Content of the advertisement Total Whitby–Oshawa Yellowhead
Election date 44% 44% 44%
Reminder/enticement to vote 23% 22% 25%
Voters must prove their ID/address before voting 17% 19% 14%
Polling stations' opening hours 12% 10% 16%
advance polling dates 12% 15% 7%
Where to vote 10% 7% 16%
General information/announcement about election 7% 10% 3%
Names of candidates/political parties 5% 3% 8%
Other 3% 3% 4%
Don't know/Refusal 16% 14% 18%

Overall, nearly one in five (18%) respondents recalled hearing or seeing the slogan "Elections Canada, your source of voting information."

  • Older respondents were less likely to remember the slogan (13%) than their middle aged and younger counterparts (19% and 21%, respectively).
  • A quarter of (26%) respondents with a disability recalled the slogan, compared to 17% among respondents without a disability.

1.2.4 Recall of Election Canada's Slogan
Text version of "1.2.4 Recall of Election Canada's Slogan"

1.3 Awareness of voting procedures and ID requirements

More than two in three electors aware of the by-election said they received their information on voting procedures for the November 17 by-elections via their voter information card (68%), which represented 73% of the respondents from Whitby–Oshawa and 63% from Yellowhead.

1.3.1 Source of Information
Text version of "1.3.1 Source of Information"

  • Electors over 35 years old were significantly more likely than youth to mention the VIC as a source of information on voting procedures and identification requirements. Less than three in five 18 to 34 year olds (58%) mentioned it compared to three quarters of those 35 to 54 (74%) and 70% of respondents over 55.
  • Aligned with awareness about the by-elections, women (74%) were also more likely than men (63%) to mention the VIC as a source of information on voting procedures.
  • Newspapers were also important as a source of information about voting procedures and were mentioned by 17% of the respondents. The use of newspapers was positively correlated to age, as younger electors were less likely to use them (9% compared to 17% among middle aged and 23% among older respondents). Other sources included the EC householder brochure, radio and previous elections or past experience, all mentioned by 7% of respondents.
  • Youth were significantly more likely to learn about voting procedures from family and friends than other demographic groups (15% compared to 3% in other age groups). They were also more likely not to seek any source of information because they did not intend to vote (8% vs. 4% and 3%). As expected, those who voted were more likely to mention the VIC as a source of information than those who did not (75% compared to 60%, respectively).

A significantly greater proportion of electors in Whitby–Oshawa learned about the voting procedures through a voter information card. Other sources which were significantly more popular in Whitby–Oshawa include: television (5%), political parties/candidates (4%) and the Elections Canada website (3%).

Table 1.4: Source of information about voting procedures
Source of information Total Whitby–Oshawa Yellowhead
Voter information card 68% 73% 63%
Newspapers 17% 15% 19%
EC householder – brochure/leaflet/reminder card 7% 7% 7%
Radio 7% 7% 6%
Previous elections/past experience 7% 7% 7%
Friends/family/parents 6% 7% 5%
Television 4% 5% 3%
Internet/website (general) 3% 3% 3%
Political parties/candidates 2% 4% 1%
Elections Canada website 2% 3% 1%
None/Did not intend to vote 5% 4% 6%
Other 1% 1% 1%
Don't know/Refused 5% 3% 6%

Nearly all respondents knew that they needed to present proof of identity in order to vote in a federal election (95%). Fewer electors, albeit still a significantly high amount, knew about the proof of address requirement (82%). The high level of knowledge about both the proof of identity requirement and proof of address requirement was consistent in both ridings.

1.3.2 Identification Requirements
Text version of "1.3.2 Identification Requirements"

  • When taken into account the respondents' employment status, those unemployed were the least likely to know about the proof of address requirement only 69% compared to approximately four in five of those working, retired or students.
  • Respondents with a university degree were more likely to know about the proof of address requirement than those with any other education 86% compared to 76% of those with some university, 81% of those with community college and 80% of those with high school or less.
  • As expected, respondents aware of these elections were more likely than those unaware to know about the proof of address requirement (83% vs. 74%).

Previous knowledge/experience (50%) is the most common source of information on these requirements followed by the VIC (34%). Other sources mentioned included previous experience (28%), when the respondent actually voted (22%), newspaper (10%), word of mouth (8%), TV (8%), and radio (6%).

1.3.3 Information Sources  Identification Requirements
Text version of "1.3.3 Information Sources – Identification Requirements"

  • Voter information card (VIC) was recalled significantly more in Whitby–Oshawa (39%) than in Yellowhead (29%).
  • Age was also an important factor. Only one in four young residents mentioned it compared to two in five (39%) middle aged and one third older respondents (35%).
  • Women were also more likely to remember the VIC as a source of information than men (37% vs. 31%, respectively).
  • Employed respondents were more likely to recall the identification requirements from past experiences (55%) than those unemployed (41%), students (37%), or retired (39%).
  • Young respondents were the least likely to learn about the ID requirements via newspaper (3% vs. 9% middle aged and 16% older respondents) and more likely to learn about it by word of mouth (17% vs. 5% middle aged and 4% older respondents).
  • Aboriginal respondents were more likely to learn about the ID requirements at the time of voting (42%) than respondents who were not Aboriginal (22%).
  • Respondents with a disability were less likely to recall VIC as a source of information (25%) than respondents without a disability (35%).

Close to two in five (39%) electors in Whitby–Oshawa learned about identification requirements from a voter information card, which was significantly higher than in Yellowhead (29%). Both ridings were fairly similar in terms of other sources of information on voting requirements.

Table 1.5: Source of information about voting requirements
Source of information Total Whitby–Oshawa Yellowhead
Previous election/experience/prior knowledge 50% 48% 52%
Voter information card 34% 39% 29%
When I voted 22% 21% 23%
Newspaper 10% 11% 9%
Word of mouth 8% 8% 8%
TV 8% 8% 8%
Radio 6% 7% 6%
EC householder brochure/leaflet/reminder card 5% 5% 4%
Learned it at school 3% 2% 3%
Internet: other websites 2% 2% 2%
Elections Canada website 2% 3% 1%
Other 2% 3% 1%
Don't know/Refused 11% 11% 12%

1.4 Awareness of voting by mail

Knowledge about the possibility to vote by mail was relatively low. Nearly two in five either indicated that they don't know (37%) or said that it wasn't possible (38%). Only one in four (25%) electors was aware of this possibility. There was minimal difference in electors from both ridings in their knowledge about voting option by mail.

1.4 Awareness of Voting by Mail
Text version of "1.4 Awareness of Voting by Mail"

  • Knowledge within certain groups was slightly higher than others. Men were more aware than women (27% vs. 23%); those born outside of Canada were more aware than those born in Canada (33% vs. 24%); and those with a disability were more aware than the ones without a disability (35% vs. 24%).
  • Elections Canada advertisement seems to impact knowledge of voting options as over one third (34%) of respondents who noticed advertisement from EC knew about the option of voting by mail compared to one fifth of those who did not notice.
  • Education was also a factor as only 19% of respondents with community college knew about it compared to a quarter of those with high school or less (24%), one third of those with some university education (34%), and 29% of those with university degree.

1.5 Voter information card and voter registration

A majority of respondents (87%) said having received their personal voter information card telling them when and where to vote. Respondents from Whitby–Oshawa were more likely to say they received their VIC (90%) than those in Yellowhead (84%).

1.5.1	Voter Information Card Received
Text version of "1.5.1 Voter Information Card Received"

  • Young respondents were significantly less likely to remember receiving the VIC than other age groups (77% compared to 90% each of middle aged and older respondents).
  • Aboriginal respondents were less likely to have received the VIC than those without Aboriginal origin. Only two thirds of Aboriginal respondents (66%) claimed to have received it compared to nearly nine in ten (87%) respondents who were not Aboriginal.
  • Those who voted in the by-elections were also more likely to claim having received their VIC. Nearly all (95%) received it compared to three quarters of those who did not vote.

The elector's information on the voter information card was found to be accurate in almost all cases. Among respondents who received their VIC, nearly all claimed both their name (98%) and address (99%) were correct on the card. This was consistent in both ridings and across all demographic groups.

1.5.2	Accuracy of Information on the Voter Information Card
Text version of "1.5.2 Accuracy of Information on the Voter Information Card"

Two thirds (66%) of the respondents who had incorrect information on their voter card took action to rectify the inaccurate information. All young respondents did something to correct the information while only two in five (40%) middle aged and five in ten (52%) older respondents did the same.Footnote 5 Respondents who got the corrections made to their VIC chose to call the phone number indicated on the VIC or the 1-800 number of Elections Canada. The rest of the respondents chose other methods to get the corrections made.

The reason given by respondents who did not make any corrections to the inaccurate information was either because they did not expect to vote anyway or because of some other reason which was not provided.

In addition to providing information on where and when to vote, respondents indicated that the VIC also contained information on advance polls (19%), location of the polling station (11%), date and time of the by-elections (9%), polling station number (8%), voters needing to show ID at the polls (7%), and reminder to vote (5%). More than half (55%) of respondents either did not know or declined to provide a response to this question.

1.5.3	Additional Information on the Voter Information Card
Text version of "1.5.3 Additional Information on the Voter Information Card"

Respondents from Whitby–Oshawa were more likely to remember information about advance polling stations than respondents from Yellowhead (26% and 11%, respectively); Aboriginal electors were less likely to remember it: 5% remembered compared to 19% respondents who were not Aboriginal.

Table 1.6: Contents of voter information card
Source of information Total Whitby–Oshawa Yellowhead
Information about advance polls 19% 26% 11%
Location of polling station/where to vote 11% 12% 10%
Date/time of election/when to vote 9% 10% 8%
Polling station number 8% 7% 8%
Voters need to show ID at the polls 7% 9% 6%
Reminder/Enticement to vote 5% 5% 5%
Elections Canada 1-800 telephone number 2% 2% 3%
Voting by mail/at local Elections Canada office/Special Voting Rules 2% 2% 1%
Names of candidates/party information 2% 1% 2%
How to vote/voting rules/information/regulations 2% 2% 1%
Other 1% 2% 1%
Don't know/Refused 55% 51% 61%

Among those who did not receive their VIC from Elections Canada, about two thirds (64%) did not do anything to find out if they were registered to vote in these by-elections, while some electors knew/assumed they were registered to vote (5%), consulted the Elections Canada website (4%), used social media (3%), relied on word of mouth or asked a family member (3%) or called Elections Canada's 1-800 number (3%).

  • The proportion of those who did not do anything specific to find out if they were registered to vote was significantly higher in Yellowhead (71%) than in Whitby–Oshawa (56%).

1.5.4	Information on Voter Registration
Text version of "1.5.4 Information on Voter Registration"

1.6 Interactions with Elections Canada during the campaign

Very few (4%) electors who were aware of the by-elections contacted Elections Canada during the campaign. This trend was found to be consistent in both ridings with almost identical results.

  • Women were more likely than men to contact Elections Canada (5% compared to 2%)
  • As expected, those who voted (5%) in the by-elections were also more likely to contact Elections Canada compared to those who did not (1%).

1.6.1 Contacted Elections Canada
Text version of "1.6.1 Contacted Elections Canada"

Among the very few respondents who contacted EC, three in four (75%) fully got the information they needed while 7% got it partially and 16% did not get the information they were looking for.

  • Where four in five (80%) respondents from Yellowhead got the information they were looking for, the proportion in Whitby–Oshawa electors was relatively lower (72%).
  • Not only were women more likely to contact Elections Canada during the campaign, they were far more likely to get the information they needed as compared to men (85% vs. 55%, respectively).

1.6.2	Received the Required Information from Elections Canada
Text version of "1.6.2 Received the Required Information from Elections Canada"


Footnote 4 Elections Canada does not use television advertising during by-elections, suggesting recall error among those who mentioned it.

Footnote 5 It is important to note that only respondents who had wrong information on their VIC were asked this question. This resulted in a very small group of respondents who provided their response (n=10). Caution should be used while interpreting these results.