Anger over pandemic election rises as some Canadians feel unsafe voting in person: poll

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Canada election: Anger over pandemic campaign rises as some feel unsafe voting in person, poll shows
WATCH: Anger over pandemic campaign rises as some feel unsafe voting in person, poll shows – Aug 30, 2021

Canadians’ anger over an election being called amid the fourth wave of the COVID-19 pandemic is not going away, a new poll suggests — in fact, it has risen as the campaign has gone on.

The Ipsos poll conducted exclusively for Global News found 58 per cent of those surveyed agree the country should not be holding an election right now, up two points over the past two weeks.

“This is a persistent issue … the feeling that having this election at this time is inappropriate,” said Darrell Bricker, CEO of Ipsos Public Affairs.

“It’s not like it was mandated. The government wasn’t defeated. This was a choice that was made to have an election. And as a result of that, it just seems in this particular example, people are not happy with it. And the fact that the number has gone up demonstrates that it’s not going away.”

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The poll, which surveyed 1,500 Canadians online last weekend, also suggests that just under a quarter of Canadians feel it is unsafe to vote in person during the pandemic.

Only 16 per cent of those surveyed said they will vote by mail in this election, while 21 per cent said they are unsure whether they will cast a ballot by mail or in person. Just two per cent said they are considering not voting at all.

“The potential is that this could be a low turnout election,” Bricker said. “However, if people really think that this is going to turn into an election of consequence, they may be able to get over that.

“At the moment, I think what we’re seeing is that just the friction related to COVID-19, and how it gets in the way of people voting in the way that they normally do, might reduce voter turnout.”

Click to play video: 'Can the federal election be held safely during the fourth wave of COVID-19?'
Can the federal election be held safely during the fourth wave of COVID-19?

Willingness to vote by mail — and trepidation against visiting a polling station — appeared to be higher in provinces that have already held elections during the pandemic, like British Columbia and the Saskatchewan-Manitoba region.

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Curiously, only 14 per cent of voters in the Atlantic — where three out of four provinces have held elections — said they would vote by mail, among the least enthusiastic regions surveyed.

Provinces that would be voting by mail in larger numbers for the first time, like Ontario and Quebec, were less enthusiastic.

The unwillingness to vote in person was particularly felt among younger Canadians aged 18 to 34, 30 per cent of whom said they felt unsafe compared to just 19 per cent of voters aged 55 and over.

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Bricker pointed out that younger people are less reliable voters during a normal, non-pandemic election, while older voters can typically be counted on to head to the polls. If more young Canadians than older ones feel unsafe voting in person, that could see participation dwindle, he said.

Even though more younger voters say they may vote by mail, he cautioned that “given (young voters’) weak attachment to the political system, going through the extra hoops that one has to do in order to vote by mail might be enough to keep them from not participating.”

That could spell trouble for the Liberals and the NDP, who both rely on younger voters. The Conservative Party, meanwhile, could see a boost from the higher enthusiasm for in-person voting among older voters and in Conservative strongholds like Alberta, which the poll suggests.

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Over two-thirds of those surveyed — 68 per cent — said it should be mandatory for poll workers to be vaccinated by the time Election Day comes. Support for the idea was strongest among older voters at 81 per cent, while only 55 per cent of Conservative voters agreed, compared to 83 per cent of Liberal voters and 78 per cent of NDP voters.

Click to play video: 'Concerns about holding federal election during 4th wave'
Concerns about holding federal election during 4th wave

Campaign promises shift voters to opposition parties

As the parties start to roll out their promises to voters, Ipsos found voters are starting to be swayed a little — and the Liberals are suffering the most so far.

The poll suggests 41 per cent of Canadians agree the promises made so far have only solidified their choice of who to vote for in September. Sixteen per cent said those promises have changed their intention, while 24 per cent said they do not know.

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Yet among those who have had a change of heart, 20 per cent said they have been swayed toward the Conservatives and 21 per cent said they now choose the NDP. Conversely, 18 per cent said the Liberals have won them over, suggesting the party’s support is being chipped away by the opposition.

“Clearly, the Liberals are in a situation in which they don’t have momentum,” Bricker said. “And what’s happening during the course of the campaign is they’re not building their support as much as the support is being built for the opposition parties.”

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With three weeks left in the campaign, Bricker said those numbers will likely shift further, or the Liberals could stop the erosion if they get their momentum back. But time is running out.

“Voter opinion is brittle, and we’re seeing just little chips and waves and things happening right now,” Bricker said.

“The potential that things can happen still in this campaign that could shatter things and move them strongly in one direction or the other definitely exists. We haven’t seen that happen yet, but we’re right on the edge potentially of it happening.”

These are some of the findings of an Ipsos poll conducted between August 20 and 23, on behalf of Global News. A sample of n = 1,500 was interviewed online, via the Ipsos I-Say panel and non-panel sources, and respondents earn a nominal incentive for their participation. Quotas and weighting were employed to balance demographics to ensure that the sample’s composition reflects that of the adult population according to Census data and to provide results intended to approximate the sample universe. The precision of Ipsos polls which include non-probability sampling is measured using a credibility interval. In this case, the poll is accurate to within ± 2.9 percentage points, 19 times out of 20, had all Canadians been polled. The credibility interval will be wider among subsets of the population. All sample surveys and polls may be subject to other sources of error, including, but not limited to coverage error, and measurement error. Ipsos abides by the disclosure standards established by the CRIC, found here:


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