Attitudes of Canadians toward Online Registration (2004–2011)
Likelihood to use online registration
This section focuses on electors’ responses to the question of how likely they would be to use online registration services if the option were available. The question was first added to Elections Canada’s Survey of Electors following the 2004 general election.
As illustrated in Figure 1, a majority of respondents from each election from 2004–2011 reported that they would be very likely or likely to use online registration.
Overall, there was a significant increase in the number of very likely or somewhat likely respondents in 2004–2011. Though the increase was not linear, the change from 2004 to 2011 was statistically significant.
Specificially, 54% of electors reported that they would be very likely or somewhat likely to use online registration in 2004; 62% in 2006; 59% in 2008 and 69% in 2011.
Figure 1: Electors’ likelihood to use online registration
Certain socio-demographic characteristics were associated with likelihood of using online registration. These included age, gender, urban/rural location, disability status, and level of education.
Age was moderately-strongly associated with likelihood to use online registration in all general elections. Footnote 8 Among all age groups, electors aged 18–34 had the highest proportion of those likely to use the service, with the proportions who said they were very likely or somewhat likely ranging from 65% in 2004 to 87% in 2011. By contrast, electors aged 65 or older were the least likely to report interest in online registration, with proportions ranging from 26% in 2006 to 51% in 2011.
Figure 2: Likelihood by age group
In general, men reported a higher likelihood of using online registration than women, with the difference between genders being statistically significant in 2004 (57% likely or very likely for men vs. 52% for women) and 2008 (61 vs. 56% for men and women respectively). The difference between genders was not significant in 2006 or 2011.
Figure 3: Likelihood by gender
Electors in urban areas were significantly more likely to use online registration than those in rural areas in all election years.
Percentages of urban electors saying they would be very or somewhat likely to use the service ranged from 57% in 2004 to 71% in 2011. By contrast, the percentages of rural respondents ranged from 42% (in 2004) to 59% (in 2011).
Figure 4: Likelihood by urban/rural location
Survey respondents were asked whether they had a disability in the 2008 Elections Canada Survey of Electors and the 2011 CES. In both, electors with disabilities were significantly less likely to be interested in using online registration than those without disabilities (44% vs. 59% in 2008 and 55% vs. 69% in 2011).
Figure 5: Likelihood by disability status
Electors with university level education (67%–77%) more often reported that they would be likely to use the service than those with college/technical school/CEGEP level education (58%–69%), who were in turn, more likely than those with a secondary school or lower level of education (41%–42%). The strength of the association between likelihood and level of education was moderate.Footnote 9
Figure 6: Likelihood by education level
Perception of risk
The 2008 and 2011 CES included a question on electors’ concerns with the risk associated with online registration. This question aimed to measure electors’ perception of the potential for fraud or error associated with online registration.
In the 2008 survey, respondents were asked the extent to which they agreed with the statement that registering online was just too risky. Responses were measured on a four-point scale.
Overall, 50% of electors strongly or somewhat agreed that registering online was too risky, while 41% disagreed.
Figure 7: Agreement with the statement that "registering to vote online is just too risky"
In 2011, the question was altered somewhat, wherein electors were asked whether they felt that registering on the Internet was risky or safe. As illustrated below, 40% of electors felt that registering on the Internet was risky, while 39% saw it as safe. Unsurprisingly, those who found the use of online registration to be risky were significantly less likely to be willing to use it.Footnote 10
Figure 8: Electors’ perception of risk associated with online registration
Regarding socio-demographic variations, older electors, rural electors, women (significant in 2008 only), electors with disabililties (significant in 2008 only) and those with lower levels of education were significantly more likely to perceive e-registration as risky.
This section focuses on candidates’ responses to the question of whether electors should be allowed to register online. This question was asked of candidates on the 40th and 41st general election surveys only.
In both cases, approximately three fourths of candidates asserted that electors should be able to register to vote online.
Figure 9: Candidates’ attitudes on whether electors should be able to register online
Non-elected candidates were more likely in both surveys to be in favour of e-registration; however, this difference was not statistically significant.
Figure 10: Elected vs. non-elected candidates in favour of e-registration
Return to source of Footnote 8 Gamma (γ) ranged from 0.234 (2004) to 0.431 (2006). By convention, this denotes a moderate-strong level of association.
Return to source of Footnote 9 Gamma (γ) ranged from 0.275 (2004) to 0.328 (2008), which by convention denotes a moderate level of association.
Return to source of Footnote 10 Gamma (γ) value of -0.330, which by convention denotes a moderate level of association. Based on data from the 2011 CES only.