As Canadians prepare to go to the polls next month for the country’s General Election, a recent survey has revealed that new citizens could have a big say in the outcome.
According to the study, carried out by the Institute for Canadian Citizenship, new citizens cherish their right to vote. The survey found that 61 per cent of respondents said that they had already voted in a Canadian election, either provincial or municipal – the turnout for these votes tends to average somewhere between 40-52 per cent.
According to the survey, new citizens vote because they feel it is generally important as an act of citizenship, and they want to have their voices heard. They are also less likely to be drawn to the polls by a particular candidate or issue.
New citizens who have not voted, yet were eligible, expressed concerns around the convenience of voting and difficulties finding information and navigating the system; these are similar issues other Canadians cite as barriers to voting.
The percentage of those surveyed who believe that voting should remain a privilege enjoyed only by citizens was considerably lower than it is for long-term, or native, citizens. While 48 per cent of the survey’s respondents supported giving permanent residents the right to vote, most focus group participants argued that only citizens should be given the right to vote federally.
There was also substantial support (60 per cent) for internet voting, providing that the integrity of the electoral process can be maintained.
The 2015 Canadian General Election will take place on 19th October.