One in Fourteen (7%) Voters Say they Waited More than an Hour to Vote

Apathy Outranks Polling-Station Concerns as Reasons Non-Voters Stayed Home

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  • Darrell Bricker Global CEO, Public Affairs
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Toronto, ON, Sep 27, 2021 — With voter turnout clocking in near its lowest point ever, and amid reports of staffing shortages at Election Canada resulting in long lineups to vote in the 44th general election, a new Ipsos report has found that long lineups were the exception, not the rule. Moreover, lower voter turnout appears to be caused more by voter apathy than by a concern about safety or long lineups at Canada’s polling stations. Moreover, voters report longer lines at advance polls than on election day.

According to an Ipsos poll conducted exclusively for Global News, the vast majority (84%) of Canadians who voted say that the process was quick and easy, and that the whole process took them less than half an hour. But for 16% of voters the process was more arduous: 9% of voters say it took between a half hour and an hour to vote, 4% say they had to wait more than an hour to vote, and 3% had to wait more than two hours to vote. Likely reflecting the time of day that these groups typically vote, those aged 18-35 are much more likely to say that it took them more than an hour to vote (15%) than those aged 35-54 (7%) or 55+ (3%).

Interestingly, those who voted in advance polls were less likely to say the process was quick and easy (80%) compared to those who voted on election day (87%). Conversely, those who voted in advance were more likely to say the process took at least a half an hour (20%) compared to those who voted on E-day (13%).

Among those who chose not to vote in the election, the list of reasons is long and varied, but for most it seems that apathy was a stronger factor than concerns about the safety of efficiency of the voting process. The top reasons for not voting include believing their vote wouldn’t make a difference (20%), not liking any of the parties, leaders or candidates (18%) or feeling that the election was unnecessary and so they decided not to vote (14%). However, some say that their concern about personal safety at the polling stations (11%), not receiving their voter card in the mail (7%), not having a polling station nearby (6%) or the complicated nature of voting by mail (5%) kept them from exercising their franchise.

Reasons for not voting


% of non-voters

I didn’t think my vote would make a difference


I didn’t like any of the parties, leaders or candidates


I felt this was an unnecessary election, and so didn’t vote


Personal circumstances (i.e. childcare, transportation, other commitments) prevented me from voting


I was concerned about my personal safety given COVID-19


I didn’t receive my voting card in the mail


There wasn’t a polling station nearby that was convenient for me


Voting by mail was too complicated


I had an emergency and couldn’t vote


The lineups were too long


I could not produce proper documentation in order to vote


I was prevented from voting in person due to not meeting COVID safety requirements (i.e. masking, etc.)


Some other reason


Women non-voters were twice as likely (14%) as men (7%) to say that concern about their personal safety given COVID-19 prevented them from voting. Women are also twice as likely (15%) as men (8%) to cite personal circumstances such as childcare, transportation or other commitments as reasons why they didn’t vote. On the other hand, men (18%) were considerably more likely than women (11%) to say that the reason they stayed home was because they felt the election was unnecessary.

Non-voters aged 18-34 were most likely to say that COVID concerns kept them home (16%), compared to those aged 35-54 (11%) or 55+ (4%). They’re also more likely to say they didn’t receive their voting card in the mail (11%) than those aged 35-54 (5%) or 55+ (3%). Younger people were also more likely to say they had an emergency which prevented them from voting (10%) compared to those aged 35-54 (2%) or 55+ (<1%). Those under the age off 55 were twice as likely (22%) to feel that their vote wouldn’t make a difference compared to those aged 55+ (11%).


About the Study

These are some of the findings of an Ipsos poll conducted between September 21 and 22, on behalf of Global News.  For this survey, a sample of n = 1,000 Canadians aged 18+ was interviewed online, via the Ipsos I-Say panel and non-panel sources.  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 ± 3.5 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:

For more information on this news release, please contact:

Darrell Bricker
CEO, Ipsos Global Public Affairs
+1 416 324 2001
[email protected]

About Ipsos

Ipsos is the world’s third largest market research company, present in 90 markets and employing more than 18,000 people.

Our passionately curious research professionals, analysts and scientists have built unique multi-specialist capabilities that provide true understanding and powerful insights into the actions, opinions and motivations of citizens, consumers, patients, customers or employees. We serve more than 5000 clients across the world with 75 business solutions.

Founded in France in 1975, Ipsos is listed on the Euronext Paris since July 1st, 1999. The company is part of the SBF 120 and the Mid-60 index and is eligible for the Deferred Settlement Service (SRD).

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The author(s)

  • Darrell Bricker Global CEO, Public Affairs