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Estimation of Voter Turnout by Age Group and Gender at the 2019 General Election

Summary

Official turnout for the 43rd general election held on October 21, 2019, was 67.0%, 1.3 percentage points lower than the previous general election in 2015 (68.3%) and 8.2 points higher than the all-time low of 58.8% for the 2008 election.

Since 2004, Elections Canada has used a sample of administrative data compiled in the course of administering the election to estimate voter turnout by age group and, since 2008, by sex, at the national, provincial and territorial levels. These administrative data, combined with those from the National Register of Electors, offer a more accurate way of measuring and studying turnout than survey-based studies, which consistently overestimate participation.

Recent legislative amendments to the Canada Elections Act required Elections Canada to record electors who voted on polling day on digital supports as well as paper sheets. In previous elections, these data were recorded exclusively on paper sheets and archived at the headquarters of Elections Canada; previous voter turnout studies used sampling techniques to evaluate turnout, since retrieving all relevant data from storage would have been too time-consuming. The use of digital supports in this study resulted in a faster, more accurate estimate of voter turnout by age and sex.

For Canadian federal elections, official voter turnout is calculated as the number of votes cast divided by the number of registered electors. Since registration coverage may vary over time and between different groups of electors, this study uses the estimated number of Canadian citizens of voting age as the denominator instead of the number of registered electors. Using this method, the "adjusted" national turnout figure for 2019 is 67.0%—the highest rate since the 2004 election where these studies first started; it was 66.1% in 2015. All turnout estimates included in this report use the estimated size of the electoral population as the denominator.

In 2019, turnout gradually increased with age, from 53.9% for ages 18–24 to 79.1% for ages 65–74, and then declined to 68.6% for those aged 75 and over. This same general pattern has been seen in every general election since 2004, when these studies began. After seeing a surge up to 57.1% in 2015, participation of voters aged 18–24 decreased by 3.2 points to 53.9% in 2019. Electors eligible to vote for the first time in 2019 1 voted at a rate (53.6%) comparable with those who were eligible to vote for the first time in 2015 2 (54.2%).

Compared with 2015, the "adjusted" turnout increased by 0.9 percentage points at the national level. This is the highest participation rate observed since Elections Canada began estimating turnout among eligible electors in 2004. This slight increase is basically attributable to an increase in participation of age groups 35–44 (+2.7), 45–54 (+1.5) and over age 75 (+1.2), but attenuated by the decrease in age group 18–24 (-3.2).

Looking at differences between men and women, for the 2019 general election, women participated at a higher rate (68.5%) than men (65.5%), and this was true across all age groups up to age 65, at which point men started participating equally or more than women. This is the same pattern seen in all general elections since 2008.

The pattern of turnout by age is the same as in 2015 in each province and territory, with turnout lowest among those aged 18–24 and then increasing gradually with age up to the 65–74 age group. In most jurisdictions, women voted more than men in all age cohorts except the 75+ cohort, where men voted more than women.

Acknowledgements

The current study is the result of the involvement of several sectors at Elections Canada. From Analytics and Performance Measurements, Marcello Barisonzi was in charge of the estimation and prepared the report jointly with Manchi Luc; Clayton Block prepared the final list of electors and Stephen Warner conducted the estimations of the electoral population.

We would like to thank Shannon Blake, Patrick Gilliland, Allison Slaney and Richard St-Louis from Field Governance and Operational Readiness, who provided the official vote counts and electoral lists. We also thank Graham Laurie from Research, Clayton Block and Daniel Larrivée from Analytics and Performance Measurements for their comments on previous versions of the report.

Introduction

This report presents estimates of voter turnout by various demographic groups defined by age and sex, at the national, provincial and territorial levels for the 43rd general election, held on October 21, 2019.

The official turnout for the 2019 election was 67.0%. Historically, electoral participation peaked in Canada at 79.4% for the 1958 general election. Throughout the 1960s, turnout remained relatively high, fluctuating between 75% and 79%. The next two decades saw it decline slightly but still ranging from 70% to 75%. In the 1990s, electoral participation began to decline to a historic low of 58.8% in the 2008 general election.

Differences in electoral participation among various demographic groups have been the subject of much academic research and analysis. Most of this research has been based on estimates from surveys, which overestimate voter turnout 3.

According to section 18.1 of the Canada Elections Act, "[t]he Chief Electoral Officer may carry out studies on voting, including studies respecting alternative voting processes, and may devise and test an alternative voting process for future use in a general election or a by-election." Since 2004, after each general election, the Chief Electoral Officer has authorized the use of administrative data from the electoral process to produce turnout estimates by age group. This research is free from the social desirability and self-reporting biases that are common in voluntary survey-based studies. In 2008, breakdown by sex was added. Since the 2019 election, turnout estimates are based on electronic data capture of official records, which allows for an increased accuracy when compared to previous elections. Also, electors were given the opportunity to register as a third gender, "Gender X".

For Canadian federal elections, official voter turnout is calculated as the number of votes cast divided by the number of registered electors. Because registration rates vary over time, this measure can be misleading when comparing turnout from two different elections. That is, the differences observed in Figure 1 are partly due to changes in list coverage (the percentage of eligible electors on the list) over time. The list coverage can vary across different segments of the population (such as youth) as well and by region.

Figure 1: Official Turnout Rates in Canadian General Elections, 1949 to 2019*

Figure 1: Official Turnout Rates in Canadian General Elections, 1949 to 2019

Text version of "Figure 1: Official Turnout Rates in Canadian General Elections, 1949 to 2019"

*Official turnout in Canada is based on the count of individuals on the final list of electors.

Official Turnout Rates in Canadian General Elections, 1949 to 2019
Polling Day Registered Electors Voters Official Turnout
27 June 1949 7,893,629 5,903,572 73.8%
10 August 1953 8,401,691 5,701,963 67.5%
10 June 1957 8,902,125 6,680,690 74.1%
31 March 1958 9,131,200 7,357,139 79.4%
18 June 1962 9,700,325 7,772,656 79.0%
8 April 1963 9,910,757 7,958,636 79.2%
8 November 1965 10,274,904 7,796,728 74.8%
25 June 1968 10,860,888 8,217,916 75.7%
30 October 1972 13,000,778 9,974,661 76.7%
8 July 1974 13,620,353 9,671,002 71.0%
22 May 1979 15,233,653 11,541,000 75.7%
18 February 1980 15,890,416 11,015,514 69.3%
4 September 1984 16,774,941 12,638,424 75.3%
21 November 1988 17,639,001 13,281,191 75.3%
25 October 1993 19,906,796 13,863,135 69.6%
2 June 1997 19,663,478 13,174,698 67.0%
27 November 2000 21,243,473 12,997,185 64.1%
28 June 2004 22,466,621 13,683,570 60.9%
23 January 2006 23,054,615 14,908,703 64.7%
14 October 2008 23,677,639 13,929,093 58.8%
2 May 2011 24,257,592 14,823,408 61.1%
19 October 2015 25,939,742 17,711,983 68.3%
21 October 2019 27,373,058 18,350,359 67.0%

To overcome these limitations, this study defines turnout as the number of votes cast divided by the estimated number of eligible voters, regardless of their registration status. Because these estimates are generally larger than the number of registered electors, the resulting turnout estimates are typically lower than official turnout figures. Therefore, comparisons over time and between demographic groups reflect only changes in participation, net of any variations in registration rates.

For the purposes of this study, the number of eligible voters was estimated using data from the 2016 Census of the Population and annual demographic changes provided by Statistics Canada. More details on how turnout is defined, the methodology used to determine the size of the electoral population, and the estimation methodology are presented in the Appendix.

Highest national turnout since 2004 election

Figure 2: Voter Turnout Based on Registered Electors and Eligible Electors in the Population, General Elections 2004 to 2019

Figure 2: Voter Turnout Based on Registered Electors and Eligible Electors in the Population, General Elections 2004 to 2019

Text version of "Figure 2: Voter Turnout Based on Registered Electors and Eligible Electors in the Population, General Elections 2004 to 2019"
Voter Turnout Based on Registered Electors and Eligible Electors in the Population, General Elections 2004 to 2019
Eligible population Registered electors
38th GE, 2004 58.5% 60.9%
39th GE, 2006 62.8% 64.7%
40th GE, 2008 56.5% 58.8%
41st GE, 2011 58.5% 61.1%
42nd GE, 2015 66.1% 68.3%
43rd GE, 2019 67.0% 67.0%

Replacing the number of registered electors with an estimate of the size of the electoral population in the denominator of the turnout measure does not change the observed trend in turnout since 2004, as shown in Figure 2. Using this alternative measure, participation still reached an all-time low in 2008, when 56.5% of the voting population voted. The 2019 election had the highest participation rate among eligible electors (67.0%) observed since 2004 (58.5%), surpassing the 2015 election (66.1%).

It must be noted that in 2019 the official turnout rate and the estimated turnout rate were very close. This is due in part to a higher list coverage, which reached a historical high of 96.9% in 2019, up from 94.5% in 2015.

Figure 3: Counts of Registered Electors and Eligible Electors in the Population, General Elections 2004 to 2019

Figure 3: Counts of Registered Electors and Eligible Electors in the Population, General Elections 2004 to 2019

Text version of "Figure 3: Counts of Registered Electors and Eligible Electors in the Population, General Elections 2004 to 2019"
Counts of Registered Electors and Eligible Electors in the Population, General Elections 2004 to 2019
Eligible population Registered electors
38th GE, 2004 23,309,360 22,378,669
39th GE, 2006 23,736,542 23,054,615
40th GE, 2008 24,661,345 23,677,639
41st GE, 2011 25,337,735 24,257,592
42nd GE, 2015 26,808,942 25,939,742
43rd GE, 2019 27,374,074 27,373,058

Figure 3 shows the counts of registered and eligible electors for all general elections since 2004. In 2019, the two numbers are very close, again due to a higher coverage achieved by the National Register of Electors.

Figure 4: Age and Sex Structure of the Eligible Electoral Population in 2019

Figure 4: Age and Sex Structure of the Eligible Electoral Population in 2019

Text version of "Figure 4: Age and Sex Structure of the Eligible Electoral Population in 2019"

*The "1st time" category includes youth eligible to vote federally for the first time. For the 2019 general election, this includes those born between October 20, 1997, and October 21, 2001. The category "not 1st time" includes those youth under 25 years old who were previously eligible to vote federally. For the 2019 general election, this includes those born between October 22, 1994, and October 19, 1997.

Age and Sex Structure of the Eligible Electoral Population in 2019
Sex Age Group Population
Females 1st time* 741,339
not 1st time* 610,957
1824 1,352,296
2534 2,155,373
3544 2,227,984
4554 2,280,836
5564 2,549,284
6574 1,893,562
75+ 1,546,181
Males 1st time* 779,077
not 1st time* 641,094
1824 1,420,171
2534 2,177,063
3544 2,139,810
4554 2,203,298
5564 2,457,219
6574 1,773,725
75+ 1,197,265

Figure 4 shows the age and sex structure of the eligible electoral population in 2019. The most populous age cohorts for both genders are in the range 55–64. About two thirds of the eligible population is between the ages of 25 and 64; the corresponding age cohorts have the largest impact on the overall national turnout.

Youth turnout slightly decreased after seeing a surge in 2015 and women still voted at higher rates than men

For the 2019 general election, the breakdown of participation by age group is shown in Figure 5.

Turnout gradually increases with age from 53.9% for ages 18–24 to 79.1% for ages 65–74, and then declines to 68.6% for those 75 and older. This same general pattern has been seen in every general election since 2004.

Figure 5: Voter Turnout by Age Group, 2019 General Election

Figure 5: Voter Turnout by Age Group, 2019 General Election

Text version of "Figure 5: Voter Turnout by Age Group, 2019 General Election"
Voter Turnout by Age Group, 2019 General Election
Age Group Turnout
1st time* 53.6%
not 1st time* 54.2%
18–24 53.9%
25–34 58.4%
35–44 64.6%
45–54 68.1%
55–64 73.3%
65–74 79.1%
75+ 68.6%

*The "1st time" category includes youth eligible to vote federally for the first time. For the 2019 general election, this includes those born between October 20, 1997, and October 21, 2001. The category "not 1st time" includes those youth under 25 years old who were previously eligible to vote federally. For the 2019 general election, this includes those born between October 22, 1994, and October 19, 1997.

Participation of voters aged 18–24 decreased by 3.2 points to 53.9% after seeing a surge (57.1%) in 2015. In contrast with 2015, among the 18–24 age group, those electors eligible to vote for the first time federally, i.e. those born between October 20, 1997, and October 21, 2001, voted at a comparable rate (53.6%) as those who were previously eligible to vote (54.2%). Voters between the ages of 35 to 44 saw the highest increase in turnout, with an increase of 2.7 points to 64.6% (from 61.9% in 2015), while voters aged 65–74 had the highest overall participation, with a slight increase in turnout to 79.1% (from 78.8% in 2015).

*The figures are not shown here due to space limitations, but can be found on Elections Canada's website.

Figure 6 shows how turnout by age group in 2019 compares with the range of turnout rates for all elections since 2004. The grey line indicates the average turnout of elections from 2004 to 2019 (both extremes included). The upward pointing triangle indicates the highest turnout rate for a given age group in the same timeframe; whereas the downward pointing triangle indicates the lowest turnout rate for a given age group. The circle and the numeric label indicate the results for the 43rd general election; when the circle overlaps with a triangle, the result reached a high or low point in the 2004–2019 period.

We can observe that the turnout for the 43rd general election is near the high end of the spectrum for all age groups, reaching the historical maximum for age groups 25–34, 35–44, 65–74 and 75+.

Figure 6: Voter Turnout by Age Group, General Elections 2004 to 2019

Figure 6: Voter Turnout by Age Group, General Elections 2004 to 2019

Text version of "Figure 6: Voter Turnout by Age Group, General Elections 2004 to 2019"
Voter Turnout by Age Group, General Elections 2004 to 2019
Age Turnout 43rd GE Minimum Maximum Year of minimum Year of maximum
1st time* 53.6% 35.6% 58.3% 40th GE, 2008 42nd GE, 2015
not 1st time* 54.2% 34.6% 55.1% 38th GE, 2004 42nd GE, 2015
18–24 53.9% 37.3% 57.1% 38th GE, 2004 42nd GE, 2015
25–34 58.4% 44.3% 58.4% 38th GE, 2004 43rd GE, 2019
35–44 64.6% 53.9% 64.6% 40th GE, 2008 43rd GE, 2019
45–54 68.1% 59.7% 70.2% 40th GE, 2008 39th GE, 2006
55–64 73.3% 65.6% 75.5% 40th GE, 2008 39th GE, 2006
65–74 79.1% 68.4% 79.1% 40th GE, 2008 43rd GE, 2019
75+ 68.6% 60.3% 68.6% 41st GE, 2011 43rd GE, 2019

*The "1st time" category includes youth eligible to vote federally for the first time. For the 2019 general election, this includes those born between October 20, 1997, and October 21, 2001. The category "not 1st time" includes those youth under 25 years old who were previously eligible to vote federally. For the 2019 general election, this includes those born between October 22, 1994, and October 19, 1997.

Figure 7 shows turnout rates for the 2019 general election broken down by both age group and sex. The participation rate across all age groups was 65.5% for men and 68.5% for women (see Table 1). Women voted at higher rates than men in all age groups up to age group 65–74, after which the trend reversed.

Figure 7: Voter Turnout by Age Group and Sex, 2019 General Election

Figure 7: Voter Turnout by Age Group and Sex, 2019 General Election

Text version of "Figure 7: Voter Turnout by Age Group and Sex, 2019 General Election"
Voter Turnout by Age Group and Sex, 2019 General Election
Age Group Turnout Males Turnout Females
1st time* 49.7% 57.7%
not 1st time* 50.2% 58.4%
18–24 49.9% 58.0%
25–34 55.5% 61.3%
35–44 62.7% 66.4%
45–54 66.7% 69.5%
55–64 71.9% 74.6%
65–74 78.9% 79.2%
75+ 72.3% 65.7%

*The "1st time" category includes youth eligible to vote federally for the first time. For the 2019 general election, this includes those born between October 20, 1997, and October 21, 2001. The category "not 1st time" includes those youth under 25 years old who were previously eligible to vote federally. For the 2019 general election, this includes those born between October 22, 1994, and October 19, 1997.

Figures 8 and 9 show how turnout by age group and sex compares with the range of turnout rates for all elections since 2008. The upward pointing triangle indicates the highest turnout rate for a given age group in the same timeframe; whereas the downward pointing triangle indicates the lowest turnout rate for a given age group. The circle and the numeric label indicate the results for the 43rd general election; when the circle overlaps with a triangle, the result reached a high or low point in the 2004–2019 period.

Figure 8: Male Voter Turnout by Age Group, General Elections 2008 to 2019

Figure 8: Male Voter Turnout by Age Group, General Elections 2008 to 2019

Text version of "Figure 8: Male Voter Turnout by Age Group, General Elections 2008 to 2019 "
Male Voter Turnout by Age Group, General Elections 2008 to 2019
Age Turnout 43rd GE Minimum Maximum Year of Minimum Year of Maximum
1st time* 49.7% 35.2% 54.9% 40th GE, 2008 42nd GE, 2015
not 1st time* 50.2% 36.0% 52.0% 41st GE, 2011 42nd GE, 2015
18–24 49.9% 36.3% 53.8% 40th GE, 2008 42nd GE, 2015
25–34 55.5% 42.5% 55.5% 41st GE, 2011 43rd GE, 2019
35–44 62.7% 51.5% 62.7% 41st GE, 2011 43rd GE, 2019
45–54 66.7% 58.2% 66.7% 40th GE, 2008 43rd GE, 2019
55–64 71.9% 65.7% 71.9% 40th GE, 2008 43rd GE, 2019
65–74 78.9% 68.8% 79.0% 40th GE, 2008 42nd GE, 2015
75+ 72.3% 69.5% 74.1% 41st GE, 2011 42nd GE, 2015

*The "1st time" category includes youth eligible to vote federally for the first time. For the 2019 general election, this includes those born between October 20, 1997, and October 21, 2001. The category "not 1st time" includes those youth under 25 years old who were previously eligible to vote federally. For the 2019 general election, this includes those born between October 22, 1994, and October 19, 1997.

Figure 9: Female Voter Turnout by Age Group, General Elections 2008 to 2019

Figure 9: Female Voter Turnout by Age Group, General Elections 2008 to 2019

Text version of "Figure 9: Female Voter Turnout by Age Group, General Elections 2008 to 2019 "
Female Voter Turnout by Age Group, General Elections 2008 to 2019
Age Turnout 43rd GE Minimum Maximum Year of Minimum Year of Maximum
1st time* 57.7% 36.0% 61.9% 40th GE, 2008 42nd GE, 2015
not 1st time* 58.4% 39.8% 58.4% 41st GE, 2011 43rd GE, 2019
18–24 58.0% 38.5% 60.5% 40th GE, 2008 42nd GE, 2015
25–34 61.3% 47.7% 61.3% 41st GE, 2011 43rd GE, 2019
35–44 66.4% 55.6% 66.4% 40th GE, 2008 43rd GE, 2019
45–54 69.5% 61.2% 69.6% 40th GE, 2008 42nd GE, 2015
55–64 74.6% 65.5% 76.0% 40th GE, 2008 42nd GE, 2015
65–74 79.2% 68.1% 79.2% 40th GE, 2008 43rd GE, 2019
75+ 65.7% 54.2% 65.7% 41st GE, 2011 43rd GE, 2019

*The "1st time" category includes youth eligible to vote federally for the first time. For the 2019 general election, this includes those born between October 20, 1997, and October 21, 2001. The category "not 1st time" includes those youth under 25 years old who were previously eligible to vote federally. For the 2019 general election, this includes those born between October 22, 1994, and October 19, 1997.

We can observe that the turnout for the 43rd general election is near the high end of the spectrum for all age groups, in some cases reaching the historical maximum, for both males and females.

Prince Edward Island had highest turnout among all provinces and territories

Figure 10 shows how voter turnout by province and territory compares with the range of turnout rates for all elections since 2004. The upward pointing triangle indicates the highest turnout rate for a given province/territory in the same timeframe; whereas the downward pointing triangle indicates the lowest turnout rate. The circle and the numeric label indicate the results for the 43rd general election; when the circle overlaps with a triangle, the result reached a high or low point in the 2004–2019 period.

Prince Edward Island saw the highest turnout at 75.4%, and Nunavut, the lowest at 39.6%, which is the lowest recorded turnout for this territory since 2004. Turnout reached high points in five provinces: Saskatchewan (71.4%), Nova Scotia (71.4%), Alberta (68.6%), Québec (67.8%) and Ontario (66.4%).

Figure 10: Voter Turnout by Province/Territory, General Elections 2004 to 2019

Figure 10: Voter Turnout by Province/Territory, General Elections 2004 to 2019

Text version of "Figure 10: Voter Turnout by Province/Territory, General Elections 2004 to 2019 "
Voter Turnout by Province/Territory, General Elections 2004 to 2019
Prov./Terr. Turnout 43rd GE Minimum Average Maximum Year of Minimum Year of Maximum
Newfoundland & Labrador 58.2% 48.1% 53.8% 59.9% 40th GE, 2008 42nd GE, 2015
Prince Edward Island 75.4% 71.0% 74.6% 80.0% 40th GE, 2008 42nd GE, 2015
Nova Scotia 71.4% 59.4% 64.5% 71.4% 38th GE, 2004 43rd GE, 2019
New Brunswick 72.5% 62.9% 67.7% 73.3% 40th GE, 2008 42nd GE, 2015
Québec 67.8% 60.6% 64.1% 67.8% 38th GE, 2004 43rd GE, 2019
Ontario 66.4% 55.5% 61.0% 66.4% 40th GE, 2008 43rd GE, 2019
Manitoba 63.6% 54.1% 59.2% 65.8% 40th GE, 2008 42nd GE, 2015
Saskatchewan 71.4% 56.8% 62.7% 71.4% 40th GE, 2008 43rd GE, 2019
Alberta 68.6% 49.4% 58.4% 68.6% 40th GE, 2008 43rd GE, 2019
British Columbia 65.5% 55.4% 60.2% 68.2% 40th GE, 2008 42nd GE, 2015
Yukon 69.5% 55.5% 63.7% 74.2% 38th GE, 2004 42nd GE, 2015
Northwest Territories 50.5% 44.2% 50.3% 60.9% 40th GE, 2008 42nd GE, 2015
Nunavut 39.6% 39.4% 45.1% 53.1% 41st GE, 2011 42nd GE, 2015

Figure 11 shows how turnout changed within provinces and territories between the general election of 2015 and that of 2019. Turnout reached a high point in three of the four most populous provinces: Ontario, Québec and Alberta. This increase was also reflected in the overall increase at the national level. All provinces and territories, with the exception of Nunavut, registered a higher turnout than their respective 2004–2019 average.

Figure 11: Change in Voter Turnout by Province/Territory between the 2015 and 2019 General Elections

Figure 11: Change in Voter Turnout by Province/Territory between the 2015 and 2019 General Elections

Text version of "Figure 11: Change in Voter Turnout by Province/Territory between the 2015 and 2019 General Elections"
Change in Voter Turnout by Province/Territory between the 2015 and 2019 General Elections
Province/Territory Percentage point change in turnout
Alta. +4.1%
Sask. +3.7%
Ont. +2.0%
N.S. +0.7%
Que. +0.5%
N.B. -0.7%
N.L. -1.7%
Man. -2.1%
B.C. -2.7%
P.E.I -4.5%
Y.T. -4.7%
N.W.T -10.4%
Nvt. -13.4%

The decrease was particularly significant in Nunavut (-13.4 percentage points) and the Northwest Territories (-10.4 percentage points).

Table 1: Voter Turnout by Province or Territory, Age Group and Sex, 2019 General Election

Age and Sex N.L. P.E.I. N.S. N.B. Que. Ont. Man. Sask. Alta. B.C. Y.T. N.W.T. Nvt.
1st time* 44.3% 60.4% 60.5% 60.9% 61.6% 58.7% 49.4% 54.0% 55.9% 54.7% 48.8% 26.7% 24.5%
not 1st time* 44.5% 63.7% 61.4% 58.5% 58.4% 58.9% 54.7% 59.2% 59.3% 58.0% 55.0% 33.8% 29.3%
18–24 44.4% 61.9% 60.9% 59.8% 60.1% 58.8% 51.7% 56.3% 57.4% 56.2% 51.6% 29.9% 26.5%
25–34 51.0% 68.7% 66.0% 64.7% 61.2% 60.6% 55.9% 65.4% 64.8% 60.6% 74.1% 50.1% 40.2%
35–44 56.7% 76.1% 70.3% 72.1% 67.1% 65.5% 61.4% 71.7% 68.3% 65.3% 72.4% 54.5% 45.9%
45–54 60.3% 79.3% 73.4% 75.2% 69.7% 69.2% 66.3% 74.9% 72.7% 66.9% 70.7% 58.8% 48.7%
55–64 66.7% 84.3% 80.2% 80.6% 76.2% 73.3% 73.4% 80.9% 76.5% 71.6% 76.0% 59.4% 50.9%
65–74 71.7% 87.1% 84.0% 84.0% 80.9% 78.0% 78.8% 84.5% 79.0% 77.3% 80.1% 64.3% 55.5%
75+ 60.2% 76.7% 70.7% 71.6% 65.5% 65.4% 66.8% 72.1% 67.4% 62.8% 70.9% 48.0% 40.3%
Women 60.4% 77.7% 73.4% 74.1% 69.6% 67.7% 65.0% 72.7% 69.7% 66.6% 72.1% 52.7% 42.3%
1st time* 35.5% 50.6% 49.7% 51.8% 53.1% 50.0% 42.4% 50.4% 50.3% 47.1% 38.6% 22.5% 16.0%
not 1st time* 38.4% 54.1% 50.7% 50.7% 50.4% 49.9% 47.8% 52.9% 53.7% 49.2% 42.4% 28.1% 24.2%
18–24 36.7% 52.1% 50.2% 51.3% 51.9% 49.9% 44.8% 51.5% 51.8% 48.1% 40.3% 25.2% 19.4%
25–34 43.3% 61.5% 58.1% 58.4% 54.1% 54.7% 51.9% 61.7% 60.5% 54.8% 64.2% 40.0% 30.5%
35–44 51.1% 71.9% 65.1% 68.5% 61.7% 62.0% 58.0% 69.6% 66.0% 62.8% 68.0% 50.8% 40.0%
45–54 53.7% 74.0% 68.8% 71.4% 65.5% 66.8% 63.7% 71.9% 70.6% 65.0% 69.4% 57.3% 44.9%
55–64 61.5% 81.2% 76.4% 77.9% 72.4% 71.3% 70.2% 77.3% 74.2% 69.4% 70.1% 59.2% 49.5%
65–74 69.9% 85.0% 82.5% 83.1% 80.1% 78.3% 78.3% 83.1% 79.2% 77.3% 78.1% 58.7% 59.7%
75+ 65.7% 77.0% 75.6% 75.4% 72.3% 72.6% 72.6% 76.2% 73.5% 69.4% 71.0% 48.1% 46.8%
Men 55.8% 73.1% 69.1% 70.9% 66.0% 64.9% 62.1% 70.0% 67.5% 64.3% 66.9% 48.4% 37.0%
Canada
1st time* not 1st time* 18–24 25–34 35–44 45–54 55–64 65–74 75+ All
Women 57.7% 58.4% 58.0% 61.3% 66.4% 69.5% 74.6% 79.2% 65.7% 68.5%
Men 49.7% 50.2% 49.9% 55.5% 62.7% 66.7% 71.9% 78.9% 72.3% 65.5%

*The "1st time" category includes youth eligible to vote federally for the first time. For the 2019 general election, this includes those born between October 20, 1997, and October 21, 2001. The category "not 1st time" includes those youth under 25 years old who were previously eligible to vote federally. For the 2019 general election, this includes those born between October 22, 1994, and October 19, 1997.

Use of alternative voting methods reached highest peak in 2019

More and more Canadians are choosing alternatives to voting on election day, including advance polling, voting at an Elections Canada office or on a post-secondary campus, voting by mail or other special ballot methods. Figure 12 shows the trends in the use of these methods over time among the electoral population, broken down by age group, in the last six general elections. The popularity of these alternative voting methods has soared in the last two elections; it continued and reached the highest peak in the 2019 election.

The proportion of electors using these alternative methods soared to a new all-time high in 2019. In this election, 30.2% of voters used such methods, compared with 16% in 2015. As was seen in previous elections, this proportion also increases with age. In 2019, voters aged 65–74 had the highest proportion (38.4%), followed by those aged 75 and over (35.4%). The strongest increase was for those aged 18–24 (+16.5 points), where the percentage more than doubled once again since 2015.

Figure 12: Use of Advance Polls or Special Ballot by Age Group, 38th to 43rd General Elections

Figure 12: Use of Advance Polls or Special Ballot by Age Group, 38th to 43rd General Elections

Text version of "Figure 12: Use of Advance Polls or Special Ballot by Age Group, 38th to 43rd General Elections"
Use of Advance Polls or Special Ballot by Age Group, 38th to 43rd General Elections
Election Age Group
18–24 25–34 35–44 45–54 55–64 65–74 75+
38th GE, 2004 3.0% 3.2% 4.3% 6.3% 9.5% 12.0% 10.2%
39th GE, 2006 4.5% 4.1% 5.3% 8.0% 12.8% 16.4% 13.7%
40th GE, 2008 2.8% 3.3% 4.2% 6.4% 10.8% 14.6% 12.2%
41st GE, 2011 5.0% 4.7% 5.7% 8.7% 13.4% 17.2% 14.4%
42nd GE, 2015 12.4% 10.4% 11.4% 14.7% 20.2% 26.0% 20.3%
43rd GE, 2019 28.9% 23.9% 24.3% 27.5% 32.6% 38.4% 35.4%

International voters

At the 43rd general election, for the first time in history, Canadians living abroad could vote regardless of how long they have been living abroad as a result of a Supreme Court of Canada decision and of legislative changes. Consequently, the number of registered international voters more than tripled from 15,603 to 55,512. The number of actual voters was 34,144, that is, an official turnout rate of 61.5%.

The age and sex of international voters are shown on Figure13. Females up to 44 years of age tend to vote more than males of the same age. Voters without sex data (nine in total) or voters who opted to identify as gender X (54 in total) are excluded from this figure.

Figure 13: Age Pyramid of International Voters in 2019

Figure 13: Age Pyramid of International Voters in 2019

Text version of "Figure 13: Age Pyramid of International Voters in 2019"
Age Pyramid of International Voters in 2019
Sex Age Group Population
Females 1st time* 408
not 1st time* 942
1824 1,350
2534 5,955
3544 4,800
4554 2,818
5564 1,626
6574 721
75+ 155
Males 1st time* 313
not 1st time* 634
1824 947
2534 4,645
3544 4,681
4554 3,249
5564 2,031
6574 876
75+ 220

*The "1st time" category includes youth eligible to vote federally for the first time. For the 2019 general election, this includes those born between October 20, 1997, and October 21, 2001. The category "not 1st time" includes those youth under 25 years old who were previously eligible to vote federally. For the 2019 general election, this includes those born between October 22, 1994, and October 19, 1997.

Table 2 shows the location in the world of registered international electors. The majority of registered electors are located in the Americas and Europe.

Table 2: Location of Registered International Electors 4

Continent Region Electors
Africa Total 591
Northern Africa 176
Sub-Saharan Africa 415
Oceania Total 3,208
Australia and New Zealand 3,189
Melanesia/Micronesia/Polynesia 19
Americas Total 26,329
North America 25,280
Latin America and the Caribbean 1,049
Asia Total 8,553
Eastern Asia 5,146
Southern Asia 266
Southeastern Asia 1,091
Central Asia 30
Western Asia 2,020
Europe Total 16,831
Southern Europe 1,076
Eastern Europe 476
Northern Europe 8,221
Western Europe 7,058
Total 55,512

Incarcerated population

At the 43rd general election, 16,372 electors assigned to federal and provincial correctional establishments returned a ballot. The incarcerated electoral population on polling day was 41,261, for a turnout of 39.7%.

Figure 14: Age Pyramid of Incarcerated Voters in 2019

Figure 14: Age Pyramid of Incarcerated Voters in 2019

Text version of "Figure 14: Age Pyramid of Incarcerated Voters in 2019"
Age Pyramid of Incarcerated Voters in 2019
Sex Age Group Population
Females 1st time* 133
not 1st time* 165
1824 298
2534 694
3544 371
4554 166
5564 81
6574 13
75+ 2
Males 1st time* 821
not 1st time* 1,179
1824 2,000
2534 5,131
3544 3,828
4554 2,127
5564 1,179
6574 388
75+ 87

*The "1st time" category includes youth eligible to vote federally for the first time. For the 2019 general election, this includes those born between October 20, 1997, and October 21, 2001. The category "not 1st time" includes those youth under 25 years old who were previously eligible to vote federally. For the 2019 general election, this includes those born between October 22, 1994, and October 19, 1997.

Figure 14 shows the age pyramid of incarcerated voters. Voters are mostly males aged between 25 and 34; females only account for about 15% of the incarcerated population in Canada.

Gender X

In September 2018, the Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat and the Department of Justice Canada presented a report to the Clerk of the Privy Council with recommendations on ways to modernize how the Government of Canada handles information on sex and gender. One of the recommendations was allowing Canadian citizens to identify with a third gender other than "male" or "female", indicated as "gender X." Elections Canada followed the recommendation, so that electors could choose to identify as gender X at registration.

In Canada and abroad, 1,317 Canadians, self-identified as gender X. Given recent implementation and the limited number of individuals, gendered X electors are grouped by broad geographic location and are not broken down by age group; using finer groupings could create disclosure risks. Table 3 below shows the geographic breakdown of gender X electors.

Table 3: Turnout of Gender X Voters by Location

Region Registered Electors Voters
Maritimes 75 65
Québec 102 98
Ontario 442 390
Prairies 506 420
British Columbia 108 105
Territories 5
Abroad 84 54
Total 1,317 1,132

Conclusion

In 2019, the overall federal voter turnout based on eligible electors increased by 0.9 of a percentage point to 67.0% from 66.1% in 2015. This is the highest participation rate observed since Elections Canada began reporting these turnout rates in 2004.

Participation of voters aged 18–24 decreased by 3.2 percentage points to 53.9% in 2019 after seeing the largest increase for that age group in the 2015 general election (57.1%). In contrast, turnout among other age groups increased: voters between the ages of 35 and 44 saw the highest increase in voter turnout, with an increase of 2.7 percentage points to 64.6% (from 61.9% in 2015), while voters among age group 65–74 had the highest overall participation rate, with a slight increase in turnout to 79.1% (from 78.8% in 2015).

For the 2019 general election, women participated at a higher rate (68.5%) than men (65.5%), and this was true across all age groups up to age 65, at which point men started participating equally or more than women. This is the same pattern seen in all general elections since 2008.

The rising trend of alternative voting methods continued in 2019 with 30.2% of electors who chose to cast a ballot during advance polling days or by special ballot. This proportion was 16% in 2015 and 9% in 2011. As was seen in previous elections, this proportion also increases with age. In 2019, voters aged 65–74 had the highest proportion (38.4%), and the strongest increase was for those aged 18–24 (+16.5%). Use of advance polls or special ballots reached the highest peak in 2019 for all age groups since the 2004 election.

Footnotes

1 Citizens born between October 20, 1997, and October 21, 2001, were eligible to vote for the first time in the 43rd general election in 2019.

2 Citizens born between May 3, 1993, and October 19, 1997, were eligible to vote for the first time in the 42nd general election in 2015.

3 For the effects of social desirability in surveys and the gap between actual and self-reported turnout numbers, see:
Holbrook, Allyson L., and Jon A. Krosnick. "Social Desirability Bias in Voter Turnout Reports: Tests Using the Item Count Technique." The Public Opinion Quarterly, vol. 74, no. 1 (2010): 37–67. http://www.jstor.org/stable/40660537. DeBell, Matthew, Jon A. Krosnick, Katie Gera, David S. Yeager, and Michael P. McDonald. "The Turnout Gap in Surveys: Explanations and Solutions." Sociological Methods & Research, vol. 49, no. 4 (November 2020): 1133–62. https://doi.org/10.1177/0049124118769085.

4 The choice and naming of world regions are in concordance with the United Nations Statistics Division M49 Standard.

5 Data for the Territories has been removed for reasons of confidentiality.