Under 25% of Canadians ready to vote by mail in a federal election, survey shows

"It's going to take a good publicity campaign to explain to people just how secure it is," says Léger vice-president Christian Bourque.

In a file photo from Oct. 21, 2019, voters arrive at a polling station in Mississauga, Ont., to cast a ballot in the federal election.

Less than one-quarter of Canadians want to mail in their ballots if a general federal election is held before this autumn, a new poll suggests.

That reluctance seems even more pronounced among Conservative and Bloc Québécois voters.

A survey conducted by Léger Marketing and the Association for Canadian Studies found that 70 per cent of respondents were ready to vote in person at their polling station, while just 24 per cent said they would drop their ballot into a mailbox.

Léger vice-president Christian Bourque said Elections Canada would do well to take the survey’s findings into account.

“It’s going to take a good publicity campaign to explain to people just how secure it is, how easy it is and how they intend to make sure that every vote is counted,” he said.

The survey’s results, coupled with respondents’ voting intentions, suggest that Conservative and Bloc supporters are the most inclined to ignore mail-in ballots and vote in person.

A total of 85 per cent of Bloc supporters prefer in-person voting, compared with just 10 per cent who were ready to vote by mail. Meanwhile, 80 per cent of Conservative voters intend to show up at polling stations, while 19 per cent said they were ready to mail in their ballot.

Sixty-five per cent of New Democratic Party voters said they prefer voting in person, while 35 per cent would cast their ballots by mail.

The 70-25 per cent divide among Liberal voters reflected the split nationally.

Bourque says the division on the issue seems defined between voters in areas outside major population centres and those in more densely populated sectors where the pandemic has made itself more dramatically felt.

“I think those people (outside major urban areas) are less frightened, if I can use that expression, to vote in person … while in hot zones, red zones, in the cities, they are less likely to say, ‘I’ll vote in person just the same.’ ”

Canadians are also divided over when pandemic restrictions should be permanently lifted.

Twelve per cent say authorities should wait until all those older than 65 have received their two doses of vaccine, 18 per cent think the threshold should be when half of the population has received their second dose, while 14 per cent think they should be lifted immediately.

Meanwhile, 31 per cent of respondents want to wait until all Canadians who want the vaccine have received both doses, and 18 per cent say the measures should remain in place for at least six months after the vaccination campaign.

The poll also found that Canadians were somewhat more optimistic about all of the population being vaccinated by the end of September as the vaccination campaign ramps up.

Two weeks ago, 51 per cent were confident it would happen — a proportion that has now risen to 54 per cent.

In other survey findings, 62 per cent of respondents who had received at least one dose of vaccine said they felt “a great weight had been lifted.” Half the respondents said they thought the end of the crisis is now in sight, and 43 per cent had “the impression (their) life was starting to return to normal.”

The online survey, for which a margin of error cannot be calculated, polled 1,532 Canadians, 406 of them in Quebec.

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