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IntroductionSurvey of Election Officers Following the 43rd Federal General Election

Elections Canada, an independent, non-partisan agency that reports directly to Parliament, is responsible for conducting federal elections in Canada. Following the last general elections, Elections Canada (EC) conducted a survey of election officers to evaluate the quality of services they received from EC, and to collect opinions on various election-related issues. Phoenix Strategic Perspectives (Phoenix SPI) was commissioned by EC to survey election officers following the 43rd general election.

1. Background and Objectives

The mandate of EC is to:

  • be prepared to conduct a federal general election, by-election or referendum;
  • administer the political financing provisions of the Canada Elections Act;
  • monitor compliance with electoral legislation;
  • conduct public information campaigns on voter registration, voting and becoming a candidate;
  • conduct education programs for students on the electoral process;
  • provide support to the independent commissions in charge of adjusting the boundaries of federal electoral districts following each decennial census;
  • carry out studies on alternative voting methods and, with the approval of parliamentarians, test alternative voting processes for future use during electoral events; and
  • provide assistance and cooperation in electoral matters to electoral agencies in other countries or to international organizations.

As part of Elections Canada's research program, the agency commissioned a survey of election officers who worked during the 43rd federal general election. This included poll workers (central poll supervisor, information officer, registration officer, deputy returning officer, poll clerk) and was extended this year to recruitment officers and assistant recruitment officers who are hired by returning officers for each electoral district. The purpose of the survey was to obtain election officers' viewpoints on various election-related issues, as well as their working experience during the 43rd federal general election. In particular, the objectives of this survey were to assess election officers' views regarding:

  • recruitment and remuneration;
  • level of preparation, including training;
  • Elections Canada's services, products and tools; and
  • their overall experience working at the polls.

The results will be used to assess the quality of the programs and services provided during the 43rd federal general election. Similar surveys were conducted following the 40th, 41st, and 42nd federal general elections. 1

2. Methodology

A 20-minute telephone survey was conducted with a stratified random sample of 4,251 election officers between December 14th, 2019 and January 12th, 2020. To ensure adequate sample sizes for subgroup analyses, several groups of officers were oversampled: specifically, recruitment officers and assistant recruitment officers, as well as officers who worked at mobile polls or polling stations in First Nations communities, on student campuses, or in retirement residences and long-term care facilities. The survey data were weighted to accurately reflect the distribution of election officers by region, type of position, type of poll and type of polling station. Based on a sample of this size, the overall results can be considered accurate to within ±1.5%, 19 times out of 20. For a more complete description of the methodology, refer to the Appendix.

3. Notes to Readers

  • All results in the report are expressed as percentages, rounded to the nearest whole number unless otherwise noted. Percentages may not always add to 100% due to rounding or multiple response questions. In addition, when percentages are aggregated (i.e., ratings of 4 and 5 on a five-point scale are summed), unrounded values are used.
  • The terms “poll workers” or “poll staff” are used in the report to refer to those who held positions at the polling stations: central poll supervisors, information officers, registration officers, deputy returning officers or poll clerks. The term “election officers” includes poll workers, recruitment officers and assistant recruitment officers.
  • The number of respondents changes throughout the report because questions were often asked to sub-samples of the survey sample. Accordingly, readers should be aware of this and exercise caution when interpreting results based on smaller numbers of respondents.
  • Subgroup differences are identified in the report. When reporting subgroup variations, only differences that are significant at the 95% confidence level and that pertain to a subgroup sample size of more than n=30 are discussed in the report.
  • If one or more categories in a subgroup are not mentioned in a discussion of subgroup differences (for example, if two out of eight regions are compared), it can be assumed that significant differences were found only among the categories reported.
  • Similar surveys were conducted in 2008, 2011 and 2015; where appropriate, reference is made to previous results.
  • Even if previous election surveys do not include recruitment officers in the study population, the comparisons made are still valid, since recruitment and assistant recruitment officers account for only 0.4% of the weighted sample.


1 This year, the questionnaire was updated to reflect the development of new products and services, the inclusion of issues such as absenteeism and harassment in the workplace, and the addition of recruitment officers to the study population.