Statistics Canada
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Elections... by the numbers

2011

Image: Your vote.
Image: Your vote.

Here are some facts related to elections (municipal, provincial or federal) in Canada.

(Last updated: February 23, 2011.)


Voting by age

Data are for persons who are eligible to vote in Canada.

  • 78.3% — The proportion of people in Canada aged 18 and over who reported that they had voted in the last federal election.
  • 55.9% — The proportion of people in Canada aged 18 to 24 who reported that they had voted in the last federal election.
  • 75.8% — The proportion of people in Canada aged 25 to 54 who reported that they had voted in the last federal election.
  • 89.4% — The proportion of people in Canada aged 55 and over who reported that they had voted in the last federal election.

Source: 2008 General Social Survey.


Political ties

  • 5.9% — The proportion of people in Canada aged 15 and over who reported that they were involved with a political party or group.
  • 3.6% — The proportion of people in Canada aged 15 to 24 who reported that they were involved with a political party or group.
  • 5.1% — The proportion of people in Canada aged 25 to 54 who reported that they were involved with a political party or group.
  • 8.6% — The proportion of people in Canada aged 55 and over who reported that they were involved with a political party or group.

Source: 2008 General Social Survey - Selected Tables on Social Engagement.


Seats in parliament

308 — The number of federal electoral districts in Canada.

A “federal electoral district” is also known as a “riding” or a “constituency”.

You can find detailed census data on all ridings in Federal Electoral District (FED) Profile, 2006 Census.

See also: Federal electoral districts (FEDs) - 2003 Representation Order; Summary tables, Distribution of House of Commons seats at general elections (Election results 2008).

To find out more about federal elections, visit the Elections Canada website at www.elections.ca.


The 2011 Decennial census

As a decennial census, data from the 2011 Census will be used to determine the number of Members of Parliament. For more information, see the About the census page.


Municipal elections

For data on your municipality (including demographics, languages spoken, income, education and employment levels), see 2006 Community Profiles, Census tract profiles, 2006 Census or GeoSearch.


Voter participation rate


Non-voting political activity

  • 29.1% — The proportion of Canadians 15 years and over who search for information on a political issue.
  • 37.3% — The proportion of Canadians aged 18 to 24 who search for information on a political issue.
  • 30.9% — The proportion of Canadians aged 25 to 44 who search for information on a political issue.
  • 24.3% — The proportion of Canadians aged 45 to 64 who search for information on a political issue.
  • 18.8% — The proportion of Canadians aged 65 and over who search for information on a political issue.
  • 30.9% — The proportion of Canadians aged 25 to 54 who search for information on a political issue.
  • 22.6% — The proportion of Canadians 55 and over who search for information on a political issue.
  • 12.6% — The proportion of non-retired Canadian adults who write to a newspaper or a politician to express their views.
  • 3.1% — The proportion of non-retired Canadian adults who volunteer for a political party.
  • 5.7% — The proportion of non-retired Canadian adults who were a member of a political party or group.

Source: 2008 General Social Survey.

University graduates were over three times more likely to participate in one of these activities than individuals with a high school education. Just over half of those with a university education had engaged in at least one of these activities in 2003, compared with just 18% of those with a high school education or less.

Source: “Study: Canadians and their non-voting political activity,” The Daily, Tuesday, June 19, 2007.

See also: “Canadians and their non-voting political activity” in Canadian Social Trends.


Political engagement

  • 59% — The proportion of individuals in their 20s who had voted in at least one election.
  • 71% — The proportion of individuals aged 30 to 44 who had voted in at least one election.
  • 85% — The proportion of individuals aged 45 and over who had voted in at least one election.
  • 77% — The proportion of the voting-age population overall that had cast a ballot.

All age groups were less likely to vote in local than in federal and provincial elections.

Exploring further, the report “Willing to participate: Political engagement of young adults” in Canadian Social Trends notes that researchers have suggested various reasons that young adults are not as likely to go to the polls. Among them are questions of motivation, marginalization from mainstream politics and a lack of relevance.

However, young adults are just as likely as older age groups to engage in alternative activities, such as signing a petition; boycotting or choosing a product for ethical reasons, or attending a public meeting. A small proportion had worked as a volunteer for a political party.

The higher their level of education, the more likely these young people were to participate in such non-voting activity, and the more likely they were to vote as well.

On a regional basis, the proportion of young people who turned out to vote was highest in Quebec:

  • 74% — The proportion of people aged 22 to 29 in Quebec who had cast a ballot in the last election prior to the survey.
  • 56% — The proportion of people aged 22 to 29 in the Prairies who had cast a ballot in the last election prior to the survey.
  • 53% — The proportion of people aged 22 to 29 in Ontario who had cast a ballot in the last election prior to the survey.

In addition, Canadian-born young people were more politically engaged than their immigrant counterparts.

Source: “Study: Political activity among young adults,” The Daily, Tuesday, December 6, 2005.


A sense of belonging

  • 62% — The proportion of people in Canada who voted in the last federal election who described their sense of belonging to Canada as very strong.
  • 52% — The proportion of people in Canada who had not voted in the last federal election who described their sense of belonging to Canada as very strong.

Source: 2008 General Social Survey.


Canadians and their news media diet

People who follow the news frequently in a variety of media sources tend to participate in more political activities.

However, people who use television as their only source of news closely mirror those who do not follow the news at all. Those frequent users who choose only television tend to participate in fewer non-voting political activities.

This finding supports previous US research that lower rates of political participation are associated with using television as the only source of news.

Source: “Study: Canadians and their news media diet,” The Daily, Tuesday, March 27, 2007.

See also: “Keeping up with the times: Canadians and their news media diet” in Canadian Social Trends.


Rural folk more engaged

Higher — The likelihood that residents of Canada's most rural areas would attend a public meeting, regardless of education level.

Higher rates of attendance at public meetings are more characteristic of rural areas than of urban places.

Residents of the most rural areas who had a high school diploma as their highest level of educational attainment were about as likely to have attended a public meeting as their urban counterparts who had a university degree.

Source: “Study: Impact of education on civic engagement in rural and urban Canada,” The Daily, Monday, July 17, 2006.


E-voters

  • 1.1% — The proportion of internet users who reported in 2009 that they had voted online in an election.

Source: Summary tables, Internet use by individuals for government on-line activity (Internet users at home).


Internet use and political participation

Results from the 2005 Canadian Internet Use Survey show Canadians may use the Internet to connect with political and social issues.

  • 51.4% — The proportion of home Internet users aged 18 and over who reported that they read online newspapers or magazines about a particular social or political issue.
  • 29.2% — The proportion of home Internet users who said they went online to read what other Canadians think about political or social issues.
  • 13.8% — The proportion of home Internet users who said they used the Internet to correspond with other Canadians about these issues.

Sources: “Study: Internet use and social and civic participation,” The Daily, Thursday, December 4, 2008; “How Canadians' Use of the Internet Affects Social Life and Civic Participation,” Connectedness Series, Thursday, December 4, 2008.


Silver voters

  • 77% — The approximate proportion of seniors aged 65 to 74 who said they had voted in the last federal, provincial and municipal elections.

Source: “A portrait of seniors,” The Daily, Tuesday, February 27, 2007.


Active voters

Participation in political activities was associated with whether or not individuals said they had voted in the most recent federal and provincial elections.

  • 36% — The proportion of individuals aged 25 to 54 who said they had voted in both the most recent federal and provincial elections who had also signed a petition in the previous year.
  • 18% — The proportion of individuals aged 25 to 54 who said they had not voted in both the most recent federal and provincial elections who had signed a petition in the previous year.
  • 27% — The proportion of individuals aged 25 to 54 who said they had voted in both the most recent federal and provincial elections who had also attended a public meeting.
  • 13% — The proportion of individuals aged 25 to 54 who said they had not voted in both the most recent federal and provincial elections who had attended a public meeting.

Source: “General Social Survey: Social engagement,” The Daily, Tuesday, July 6, 2004.


Looking for information on election issues?

Election issues may vary from election to election, but Statistics Canada can always help Canadians better understand their country—its population, resources, economy, society and culture: See Statistics by subject.

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See previous features on this and on other subjects in By the numbers – archives.