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I Don't Want To or Is It Too Difficult? The Impact of Motivational and Access Factors on Youth Turnout in the 2015 Canadian Election

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Note to the Reader

A Report Commissioned by Elections Canada

Jean-François Daoust and Fernando Feitosa

Université de Montréal
Department of Political Science

June 2016

This report was presented at the conference “Youth Political Participation: On the Diverse Roads to Democracy,” June 16–17, 2016, Montreal, Quebec.

Introduction

In 2013, Gélineau showed that civic duty, political knowledge, and political interest, among other things, influenced young adults' decision to vote or abstain in the 2011 Canadian federal election. We expand Gélineau's study by providing evidence on the impact of motivational and access factors, understood as determinants of the will and of the ease to vote, respectively, on youth turnout in the 2015 Canadian federal election.

We use data from the 2015 National Youth Survey (NYS), which is composed of 2,506 respondents aged between 18 and 34, and 503 respondents aged above 35, interviewed in October or in November of 2015. We find that getting to the voting location and civic duty are the most important predictors of youth turnout in the 2015 Canadian federal election, followed by political interest, political knowledge, and external efficacy. No other motivational or access factor influenced youth turnout in the 2015 Canadian election.

The paper is divided in three parts: We first run a descriptive analysis of all motivational and access factors in the 2015 NYS data, and regress them on a set of socio-demographics – by doing so, we intend to reveal which socio-demographics influenced youth's position on those factors. We then present the bivariate relationship between each motivational/access factor and youth turnout, and run a multivariate logistic regression to isolate their effects on the latter. We conclude by providing recommendations on what should be done to foster youth turnout in the next elections.

Descriptive Analysis and Regressions on Socio-demographics

The 2015 NYS measures 11 motivational factors with its sample of Canadian youth and older adults. They are: civic duty, political knowledge, political interest, internal efficacy, external efficacy, probability of casting a decisive vote, satisfaction with democracy, electoral polarization, issues' salience, and feelings toward political parties and politicians. It also measures six access factors: difficulty/ease of finding information about how to register to vote, about candidates and political parties in one's riding, about when to vote, and about different ways to vote; and difficulty/ease to get to the voting location and to prove one's identity/address (see appendix A for the questionnaire items).

We dichotomize all those factors in 1 and 0. Those factors take the value of 1 when voting is perceived as a civic duty, when three or more political knowledge questions are answered correctly; when the respondent somewhat or strongly disagrees that the government cares little about what the people think, that sometimes the government and politics seem very complicated, and that all federal parties are the same; when he/she somewhat or strongly agrees that by voting he/she can make a difference, and that at least one federal party talks about important issues to him/her; when the respondent is somewhat or very interested in politics; when he/she is somewhat or very satisfied with democracy in Canada; when he/she has positive feelings about political parties and politicians (i.e. gives a score to them of 50 or above); and when he/she thinks it was/it would have been somewhat or very easy to find information about how to register, about when to vote, about different ways to vote, and about political parties and candidates, and to get to the voting location and to prove his/her identity/address (appendix A contains the codes we have just described).

Table 1 displays those factors' means among youth only – i.e. we excluded adults aged 35+ from this analysis, since we focus our attention here on youth. We observe in Table 1 that youth from our sample have, on average, a good knowledge about politics and are interested in politics. However, they are, on average, undecided as to whether voting is a civic duty or not – we emphasize these three motivational factors, since they are the only statistically significant predictors of youth turnout in the multivariate logistic regression with all factors, as we will see below. Lastly, we find youth from our sample find, on average, somewhat or very easy to vote – this includes to find out about when to vote, etc.

Table 1. Mean of motivational and access factors in the 2015 NYS data
Factors Mean N
Civic duty 0.50 2351
Political knowledge 0.57 2438
Political interest 0.78 2431
External efficacy 0.47 2339
Internal efficacy 0.47 2339
Probability of casting a decisive vote 0.78 2361
Electoral polarization 0.69 2343
Issues' salience 0.88 2315
Feelings toward politicians 0.63 2450
Feelings toward parties 0.70 2450
Satisfaction with democracy 0.72 2285
Information about registering 0.87 2071
Information about candidates and parties 0.77 2231
Information about when to vote 0.95 2296
Information about ways to vote 0.74 1948
Get to voting location 0.90 2355
Prove identity/address 0.91 2418

Note: All variables value either 1 or 0.

We now regress each motivational/access factor on a set of socio-demographics measured by the 2015 NYS in order to reveal their impacts among youth as for 2015. To do so, we dichotomize in 1 and 0 gender, education, income, place of residence (urban/rural), place of birth, marital status, children, Aboriginal status, disability, language and residential mobility – these variables take the value of 1 when the respondent is female, when he/she has some post-secondary education or more, when he/she earns $40,000 or more per year, when he/she lives in a city with at least 10,000 inhabitants, when he/she was born in a country other than Canada, when he/she is married, when he/she has at least one child, when he/she identifies as Aboriginal, when he/she is disabled, when he/she is Francophone, and when he/she has moved at least once in the last year. We keep region and occupation as categorical variables, setting Ontario and employed as the reference categories. Lastly, we divide age into four groups: 18–19, 20–24, 25–29 and 30–34.

Table 2 Logistic regression of motivational factors on socio-demographics
Civic duty Political knowledge Political interest Electoral polarization Issues' salience Internal efficacy External efficacy Probability of casting a decisive vote Satisfaction with democracy Feelings toward parties Feelings toward politicians
>40K -0.02(0.02) -0.0004(0.02) +0.01(0.02) -0.01(0.02) -0.03(0.01) +0.02(0.02) +0.05(0.02) +0.01(0.02) +0.04(0.02) +0.01(0.02) +0.02(0.02)
Some post-secondary education +0.11***(0.03) +0.14***(0.03) +0.05*(0.02) -0.01(0.02) +0.03(0.01) +0.008(0.03) +0.01(0.03) +0.03(0.02) -0.01(0.02) +0.03(0.02) +0.01(0.02)
Region:
Atlantic +0.03(0.04) +0.005(0.04) +0.07**(0.03) +0.14***(0.03) +0.05**(0.01) +0.05(0.05) +0.14**(0.04) +0.11***(0.02) +0.003(0.04) +0.12***(0.03) +0.15***(0.03)
Quebec +0.05(0.05) -0.10(0.05) -0.02(0.04) +0.0001(0.05) +0.03(0.02) +0.10(0.05) +0.15**(0.05) +0.02(0.04) +0.01(0.05) +0.04(0.04) +0.05(0.05)
Prairies +0.06(0.04) -0.03(0.04) -0.006(0.03) +0.06(0.03) +0.01(0.02) +0.008(0.04) +0.03(0.04) +0.03(0.03) -0.02(0.04) +0.07*(0.03) +0.06(0.03)
Alberta -0.005(0.04) +0.04(0.03) +0.04(0.02) +0.05(0.03) +0.04*(0.01) +0.04(0.04) +0.06(0.04) +0.03(0.03) -0.001(0.03) +0.03(0.03) +0.001(0.03)
BC/Territories +0.06(0.03) +0.03(0.03) +0.04(0.02) +0.04(0.03) +0.03(0.01) +0.06(0.03) +0.08*(0.03) +0.01(0.02) +0.03(0.03) +0.06*(0.03) +0.04(0.03)
Married +0.03(0.04) +0.01(0.03) +0.04(0.02) +0.08**(0.03) -0.01(0.02) +0.003(0.043) +0.02(0.04) +0.05*(0.02) +0.06*(0.03) +0.003(0.03) +0.008(0.03)
Born outside Canada 0.01(0.03) -0.06(0.03) +0.03(0.02) -0.05(0.03) +0.01(0.01) -0.07*(0.03) -0.03(0.03) +0.04(0.02) +0.11***(0.02) +0.03(0.03) +0.05(0.03)
Moved 0.02(0.02) +0.02(0.02) +0.03(0.01) -0.01(0.02) -0.0001(0.01) +0.08***(0.02) +0.006(0.02) -0.03(0.01) -0.06**(0.02) +0.003(0.02) -0.008(0.02)
One child or more -0.08*(0.03) -0.11**(0.03) -0.01(0.02) -0.03(0.03) +0.02(0.01) -0.02(0.03) -0.05(0.03) -0.01(0.03) -0.006(0.03) -0.02(0.03) -0.07*(0.03)
Francophone +0.11*(0.05) +0.19***(0.04) -0.05(0.04) -0.05(0.05) -0.05(0.04) +0.03(0.06) -0.08(0.06) -0.03(0.05) -0.03(0.06) -0.06(0.05) -0.06(0.06)
Aboriginal -0.008(0.04) -0.11**(0.04) +0.02(0.03) -0.11**(0.04) -0.002(0.02) -+0.08*(0.04) -0.12**(0.04) +0.03(0.03) -0.07*(0.03) -0.06(0.03) -0.04(0.04)
Disabled +0.01(0.04) -0.02(0.04) -0.01(0.03) -0.04(0.04) -0.08*(0.03) +0.02(0.04) -0.09*(0.04) -0.04(0.03) -0.09*(0.04) -0.07(0.04) -0.02(0.04)
Occupation:
Student only +0.02(0.03) +0.09**(0.03) -0.0009(0.02) -0.006(0.03) +0.01(0.02) -0.004(0.03) +0.01(0.03) -0.002(0.02) +0.01(0.03) +0.03(0.02) +0.02(0.03)
Employed and student -0.005(0.03) +0.08**(0.03) +0.07***(0.02) +0.06*(0.02) +0.01(0.01) +0.07*(0.03) +0.06(0.03) +0.03(0.02) +0.01(0.03) +0.05*(0.02) +0.03(0.03)
Unemployed -0.23***(0.05) -0.18**(0.05) -0.07(0.04) -0.09(0.05) -0.10*(0.04) -0.03(0.06) -0.05(0.05) -0.08(0.05) +0.04(0.04) -0.05(0.05) -0.07(0.05)
Urban 0.04(0.02) +0.10***(0.02) +0.02(0.02) +0.02(0.02) +0.002(0.01) +0.07**(0.02) +0.05(0.02) +0.01(0.02) -0.01(0.02) +0.03(0.02) +0.02(0.02)
Age group:
20–24 -0.05(0.03) -0.01(0.03) -0.04(0.02) -0.02(0.03) +0.01(0.01) +0.02(0.03) -0.07(0.03) -0.02(0.03) -0.04(0.03) -0.05(0.03) -0.03(0.03)
25–29 -0.004(0.04) +0.09*(0.04) +0.02(0.03) -0.01(0.04) +0.02(0.02) +0.13**(0.04) -0.02(0.04) -0.05(0.03) -0.11*(0.04) -0.06(0.04) -0.02(0.04)
30–34 -0.02(0.04) +0.15***(0.04) -0.02(0.03) -0.12*(0.04) +0.01(0.02) +0.09*(0.04) -0.15***(0.04) -0.07(0.04) -0.14**(0.04) -0.16***(0.04) -0.07(0.04)
Female +0.02(0.02) -0.09***(0.02) -0.05**(0.01) +0.01(0.02) +0.03*(0.01) -0.11***(0.02) -0.03(0.02) +0.06**(0.02) +0.02(0.02) -0.009(0.02) -0.05*(0.02)
N 1661 1704 1700 1651 1636 1663 1651 1663 1614 1913 1913

Note: Marginal effects are shown. All dependent variables value 1 or 0. Standard errors in parentheses. *p<0.05; **p<0.01; ***p<0.001.

We find no clear pattern in the association between motivational factors and those socio-demographics. However, we notice that both education and occupation influence youth's civic duty, political knowledge and political interest. In addition, we notice that age, gender and Aboriginal status influence several motivational factors, including political knowledge, internal and external efficacy, satisfaction with democracy, and electoral polarization. Surprisingly, income isn't associated with any motivational factor, while disability and place of residence are each associated with only two and three motivational factors, respectively: the former with political knowledge and internal efficacy; the latter with issues' salience, external efficacy, and satisfaction with democracy.

Table 3. Logistic regressions of access factors on socio-demographics
Information about how to register Information about candidates and parties Information about when to vote Information about ways to vote Get to voting location Prove identity/address
>40K +0.0003(0.01) +0.01(0.02) +0.001(0.009) -0.004(0.02) -0.01(0.01) +0.006(0.01)
Some post-secondary education -0.001(0.01) -0.006(0.02) +0.001(0.008) +0.03(0.03) -0.009(0.01) -0.005(0.01)
Region:
Atlantic +0.0002(0.02) +0.09**(0.03) -0.01(0.01) -0.06(0.04) +0.01(0.02) -0.006(0.02)
Quebec +0.01(0.03) +0.10**(0.03) +0.01(0.01) -0.01(0.05) +0.006(0.02) -0.03(0.02)
Prairies -0.02(0.02) -0.03(0.03) -0.02(0.01) -0.08(0.04) -0.01(0.02) -0.02(0.02)
Alberta -0.005(0.02) +0.03(0.03) -0.002(0.01) -0.01(0.04) +0.0002(0.02) -0.02(0.02)
BC/Territories +0.02(0.02) +0.01(0.02) +0.006(0.01) +0.02(0.03) +0.02(0.01) +0.01(0.01)
Married +0.02(0.02) -0.002(0.03) +0.01(0.01) -0.04(0.04) +0.03*(0.01) +0.01(0.01)
Born outside Canada -0.007(0.02) -0.02(0.03) -0.01(0.01) -0.005(0.03) -0.02(0.02) +0.02(0.01)
Moved -0.03*(0.01) -0.05**(0.02) -0.009(0.007) -0.02(0.02) -0.04***(0.01) -0.05***(0.01)
One child or more +0.03(0.02) -0.01(0.03) +0.01(0.01) +0.05(0.03) +0.005(0.01) +0.02*(0.01)
Francophone +0.01(0.03) -0.08(0.06) +0.008(0.01) +0.10*(0.04) +0.02(0.02) +0.05***(0.01)
Aboriginal -0.05(0.03) +0.01(0.03) -0.02(0.01) -0.04(0.04) -0.02(0.02) -0.01(0.01)
Disabled -0.06*(0.03) -0.06(0.04) -0.01(0.01) +0.002(0.04) -0.04(0.02) -0.05*(0.02)
Occupation:
Student only -0.02(0.02) -0.03(0.02) -0.0007(0.01) -0.03(0.03) -0.01(0.01) -0.007(0.01)
Employed and student +0.004(0.02) +0.01(0.02) +0.01(0.008) -0.04(0.03) +0.01(0.01) +0.0002(0.01)
Unemployed -0.10(0.05) -0.02(0.05) -0.04(0.02) -0.09(0.06) -0.08(0.04) -0.03(0.03)
Urban +0.01(0.01) +0.002(0.02) +0.006(0.008) +0.01(0.02) +0.02(0.01) -0.01(0.01)
Age group:
20–24 -0.01(0.02) -0.03(0.03) -0.01(0.01) -0.02(0.03) -0.03(0.02) -0.005(0.01)
25–29 +0.01(0.02) -0.05(0.03) -0.003(0.01) +0.009(0.03) -0.01(0.02) -0.001(0.01)
30–34 +0.01(0.02) -0.01(0.04) -0.009(0.01) +0.03(0.04) -0.01(0.02) -0.006(0.02)
Female -0.02(0.01) -0.03(0.02) -0.008(0.007) -0.03(0.02) +0.01(0.01) -0.006(0.01)
N 1625 1747 1787 1522 1820 1862

Note: Marginal effects are shown. All dependent variables value either 1 or 0. Standard errors in parentheses. *p<0.05; **p<0.01; ***p<0.001.

Similarly, we observe no clear pattern with access factors. Most importantly, we find that marital status is positively associated with get to the voting location, while residential mobility is negatively associated with it – this factor is the only one that remains statistically significant in the multivariate logistic regression with all motivational and access factors. Interestingly, disability is negatively associated with information about how to register, and with proving one's identity/address. Also, youth residing in Quebec and in the Atlantic region are more likely to find it easier to learn about candidates and parties than youth residing in Ontario. Lastly, we stress that income, education, Aboriginal status, place of residence, age and gender do not influence any of the access factors.

We now regress each motivational/access factors on those socio-demographics with all respondents from the 2015 NYS. Thus, we add adults aged 35+ to the set of age groups, and set them as the reference group in order to reveal test for possible differences between youth and older adults on each motivational/access factor. All dependent and independent variables in this analysis are coded as previously.

Table 4. Logistic regressions of motivational factors on age and other socio-demographics
Civic duty Political knowledge Political interest Satisfaction with democracy Issues' salience Electoral polarization Internal efficacy External efficacy Probability of casting a decisive vote Feelings toward parties Feelings toward politicians
18–19 -0.15**(0.05) -0.36***(0.05) -0.16*(0.06) +0.09*(0.04) +0.01(0.03) +0.03(0.04) -0.20***(0.05) +0.01(0.05) -0.04(0.05) +0.01(0.05) -0.07(0.05)
20–24 -0.21***(0.04) -0.37***(0.04) -0.19***(0.05) +0.06(0.04) +0.02(0.02) +0.0008(0.04) -0.18***(0.04) -0.05(0.04) -0.06(0.04) -0.04(0.04) -0.12*(0.04)
25–29 -0.16***(0.04) -0.28***(0.04) -0.13*(0.05) -0.008(0.04) +0.02(0.02) +0.004(0.04) -0.09*(0.04) -0.01(0.04) -0.10*(0.04) -0.06(0.04) -0.12*(0.04)
30–34 -0.19***(0.04) -0.21***(0.04) -0.19***(0.05) -0.04(0.03) -0.0007(0.02) -0.09*(0.04) -0.13***(0.04) -0.15***(0.03) -0.13**(0.04) -0.17***(0.04) -0.18***(0.04)
N 2164 2223 2215 2115 2135 2161 2171 2155 2169 2227 2227

Note: Marginal effects are shown. All dependent variables value either 1 or 0. Besides age, the following socio-demographics are included: income, education, region, marital status, place of birth, residential mobility, children, language, Aboriginal status, disability, occupation, place of residence, and gender. Standard errors in parentheses. *p<0.05; **p<0.01; ***p<0.001. 35+ is the reference group.

We observe in Table 4 that youth (regardless of the age group) think less that voting is a civic duty, have less knowledge about politics, are less interested in politics, and feel less internally efficient than adults aged 35+. Interestingly, the difference between young and older adults decreases on political knowledge across the age groups (i.e. the 30–34 have more knowledge about politics than the 18–19), while it increases or remains fairly similar on civic duty and political interest.

Table 5. Percentage of dutiful citizens in the 2015 NYS data
Civic duty (%) N
18–19 0.53 405
20–24 0.48 899
25–29 0.54 512
30–34 0.47 570
35+ 0.63 501

We confirm Table 4 results on civic duty by cross-tabulating age group and civic duty – no control is used here. We find that while 53 percent of youth aged 18–19 see voting as a civic duty, 48 percent of youth aged 20–24 do so. The number of dutiful youth increases remarkably to 54 percent among the 25–29, but it drops again to 47 percent among the 30–34. We believe that while some citizens remain dutiful across the years, other citizens vary between civic duty and choice.

Table 6. Logistic regressions of access factors on age and other socio-demographics
Information about how to register Information about candidates and parties Information about when to vote Information about ways to vote Get to voting location Prove identity/address
18–19 +0.0001(0.03) +0.007(0.04) -0.01(0.02) -0.09(0.06) +0.02(0.02) -0.06(0.05)
20–24 -0.01(0.03) -0.03(0.04) -0.03(0.02) -0.11*(0.05) -0.007(0.02) -0.05(0.03)
25–29 +0.01(0.02) -0.04(0.04) -0.01(0.02) -0.08(0.05) +0.003(0.02) -0.06(0.04)
30–34 +0.001(0.02) -0.009(0.03) -0.02(0.02) -0.05(0.04) -0.003(0.02) -0.06(0.04)
N 1902 2059 2098 1781 2133 2175

Note: Marginal effects are shown. All dependent variables value either 1 or 0. Besides age, the following socio-demographics are included: income, education, region, marital status, place of birth, residential mobility, children, language, Aboriginal status, disability, occupation, place of residence, and gender. Standard errors in parentheses. *p<0.05; **p<0.01; ***p<0.001. 35+ is the reference group.

We find, in contrast, only one difference between young and older adults on access factors: the 20–24 find it less easy to learn about different ways to vote than older adults. These results suggest that what drives older adults more to the polls – generally speaking – is their higher motivation to vote, not the level of ease they face to vote.

Motivational/Access Factors and Youth's Turnout in the 2015 Canadian Election

In this section of the paper, we explore the association between motivational/access factors and youth turnout in the 2015 Canadian federal election. First, we indicate the percentage of voters in the 2015 NYS sample. Then, we present the bivariate relationship, drawn from a cross-tabulation, between each factor and turnout. Lastly, we run a multivariate logistic regression to isolate the effect of each motivational/access factor on youth turnout.

Table 7. Percentage of voters in the 2015 Canadian federal election
Turnout (%) N
18–19 0.68 406
20–24 0.70 921
25–29 0.76 524
30–34 0.65 599
35+ 0.90 503
Total 2015 NYS sample 0.73 2953

Note: Turnout is potentially over-reported, as is in other surveys (Karp and Brockington 2005; Ansolabehere and Hersh 2012).

We observe in Table 7 that youth aged 18–19 report having voted at a lower rate compared with older individuals. The only exception to this finding is youth aged 30–34: they voted slightly less than youth aged 18–19. Overall, 73 percent of respondents reported having voted in the 2015 election.

Table 8. Bivariate relationship between motivational factors and youth turnout in the 2015 Canadian federal election
0 1 N
Civic duty 0.54 0.89 2351
Political knowledge 0.56 0.80 2438
Political interest 0.40 0.78 2431
External efficacy 0.64 0.79 2339
Internal efficacy 0.66 0.77 2339
Probability of casting a decisive vote 0.46 0.78 2361
Electoral polarization 0.57 0.78 2343
Issues' salience 0.49 0.75 2315
Feelings toward politicians 0.60 0.76 2450
Feelings toward parties 0.56 0.75 2450
Satisfaction with democracy 0.70 0.73 2285

Note: Columns 1 and 2 correspond to percentage of voters. See Appendix A for what 0 and 1 mean.

Moving to the bivariate relationship between motivational/access factors and youth turnout, we find that those who think that voting is a civic duty are more likely to have voted in the 2015 election than those who see voting as a choice. We observe similar results especially with political knowledge and political interest: those who have more knowledge about politics and who are more interested in it are more likely to have voted in the 2015 election than those who have less knowledge about politics and are less interested in it.

Table 9. Bivariate relationship between access factors and youth turnout in the 2015 Canadian federal election
0 1 N
Information about how to register 0.50 0.79 2034
Information about candidates and political parties 0.69 0.77 2197
Information about when to vote 0.30 0.76 2257
Information about different ways to vote 0.68 0.77 1919
Get to voting location 0.34 0.76 2315
Prove identity/address 0.50 0.73 2194

Note: Columns 1 and 2 correspond to percentage of voters. See Appendix A for what 0 and 1 mean.

As for the access factors, we find that youth who found/would find it easy to get to the voting location are 42 percentage points more likely to have voted in the 2015 Canadian election than those who found/would find it difficult. We stress that 14 percent of abstainers couldn't tell how difficult/easy it would have been for them to get to the voting location, which can be justified by an unwillingness to answer the questions accurately and/or by a dis-interest in what happens with politics that are typical of the group.

Table 10. Logistic regression of youth turnout in the 2015 Canadian federal election on motivational factors, access factors and socio-demographics
Factors and socio-demographics Turnout
Civic duty +0.20***(0.02)
Political knowledge +0.04*(0.01)
Political interest +0.11**(0.03)
External efficacy +0.04*(0.01)
Internal efficacy +0.004(0.01)
Probability of casting a decisive vote +0.04(0.02)
Electoral polarization +0.03(0.02)
Issues' salience +0.06(0.04)
Feelings toward politicians -0.01(0.02)
Feelings toward parties +0.01(0.02)
Satisfaction with democracy -0.03(0.01)
Information about how to register +0.01(0.03)
Information about candidates and parties +0.01(0.02)
Information about when to vote +0.10(0.10)
Information about ways to vote -0.01(0.01)
Get to the voting location +0.25***(0.06)
Prove identity/address +0.03(0.04)
N 1245

Note: Marginal effects are shown. Turnout values either 1 or 0. The following socio-demographics are included: age, income, education, region, marital status, place of birth, residential mobility, children, language, Aboriginal status, disability, occupation, place of residence, and gender. Standard errors in parentheses. *p<0.05; **p<0.01; ***p<0.001.

At last, we run a multivariate logistic regression of youth turnout in the 2015 Canadian federal election on all the motivational and access factors. We find that the effect of civic duty remains statistically significant at p<0.05, and is the largest effect among all motivational factors.

This result is consistent with previous studies, according to which what makes citizens vote is to a large extent their feeling of a civic obligation toward democracy or toward their community (see Blais 2000; Clarke et al. 2004; Jackson 1983; Campbell et al. 1960; Lewis-Beck et al. 2014; Katosh and Traugott 1982; Riker and Ordeshook 1968; Sigelman et al. 1985; Ashenfelter and Kelley 1975; Bühlmann and Freitag 2006). Surprisingly, the effect of get to the voting location remains statistically significant at p<0.05, and large.

We simulate the predicted probability of a youth having voted in the 2015 Canadian election had he/she felt a civic duty to vote based on Table 10 results – fixing the covariates at their mean. We find that the probability of a him/her having voted in the election would jump from around 69 percent to more than 90 percent due to civic duty alone.

We also cross-tabulate civic duty and the other motivational factors that remained statistically significant – i.e. political interest, political knowledge, and external efficacy – to examine their association. We find that youth who believe that voting is a civic duty are likely to be interested in politics, to have a higher knowledge about politics, and to feel externally efficient than those who see voting as a choice.

Table 11. Percentage of youth interested in politics, with a high knowledge about politics, and who feel externally efficient, when voting is seen as a duty and as a choice
Political interest Political knowledge External efficacy N
Voting is a duty 0.87 0.68 0.52 406
Voting is a choice 0.71 0.49 0.43 503

Conclusion and Recommendations

We examined the effect of motivational and access factors on youth turnout in the 2015 Canadian federal election. Most importantly, we showed that civic duty and get to the voting location are the factors that most affected youth electoral participation. Based on these findings, we now discuss what should be done to increase youth's view that voting is a duty and to make their way to the voting location easier.

Several studies, including Carlsson and Johansson‐Stenman 2010, Blais et al. 2004, Dalton 2008, Raney and Berdahl 2009, and Howe 2011, claim that newer generations adhere less to the voting norm than older ones. However, the cause(s) of the phenomenon is(are) still unclear: While a group of scholars attribute the responsibility to the abolishment of civic education in schools (Miller 2010), another group of political scientists attribute it to the expansion of politically heterogeneous milieus (Campbell 2006) – among others.

Consequently, we recommend Elections Canada first and foremost conduct a thorough investigation of civic duty in collaboration with experts in the field. As far as the present study is concerned, there is something about youth's education, occupation and being a parent that lead them to be more/less inclined to see voting as a civic duty. Additionally, we recommend Elections Canada concentrate its campaigns on the less-educated, the unemployed and youth who are parents, as they are the ones less likely to adhere to the voting norm.

As for get to the voting station, Elections Canada has ensured that a high number of citizens receive a voter information card, and made the access to polls easier to some, by enabling early voting on some campuses. However, we believe that studies should be done on why youth who recently moved perceive voting to be more difficult than those who didn't. In this sense, we recommend Elections Canada to conduct an experiment where some youth receive on their e-mails a detailed description of how to get to the polling station by public transport. This should lessen the difficulty especially the less motivated face in getting there.

References

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Ashenfelter, Orley, and Stanley Kelley Jr. 1975. "Determinants of participation in presidential elections." Journal of Law & Economics 18: 695–733.

Blais, André. 2000. To vote or not to vote? The merits and limits of rational choice theory. University of Pittsburgh Press.

Blais, André, Elisabeth Gidengil, Neil Nevitte, and Richard Nadeau. 2004. "Where does turnout decline come from?" European Journal of Political Research 43(2): 221–236.

Bühlmann, Marc, and Markus Freitag. 2006. "Individual and contextual determinants of electoral participation." Swiss Political Science Review 12(4): 13–47.

Campbell, Angus, Philip E. Converse, Warren E. Miller, and Donald E. Strokes. 1960. The American voter. The University of Chicago Press.

Campbell, David E. 2006. Why we vote: How schools and communities shape our civic life. Princeton University Press.

Carlsson, Fredrik, and Olof Johansson‐Stenman. 2010. "Why do you vote and vote as you do?" Kyklos 63(4): 495–516.

Clarke, H. D., D. Sanders, M. C. Stewart, and P. Whiteley. 2004. Political choice in Britain. Oxford University Press.

Dalton, Russell J. 2008. "Citizenship norms and the expansion of political participation." Political Studies 56(1): 76–98.

Gélineau, François. 2013. Who participates? A closer look at the results of the National Youth Survey. http://inspirerlademocratie-inspiredemocracy.ca/rsch/yth/wpa/wpa-e.pdf (March 3, 2016).

Howe, Paul. 2011. Citizens adrift: The democratic disengagement of young Canadians. University of British Columbia Press.

Jackson, John E. 1983. "Election night reporting and voter turnout." American Journal of Political Science 27(4): 615–635.

Karp, J. A., and D. Brockington. 2005. ''Social desirability and response validity: A comparative analysis of overreporting voter turnout in five countries." Journal of Politics 67(3): 825–840.

Katosh, John P., and Michael W. Traugott. 1982. "Costs and values in the calculus of voting." American Journal of Political Science 26(2): 361–376.

Lewis-Beck, Michael S., William G. Jacoby, Helmut Norpoth, and Herbert F. Weisberg. 2014. The American voter revisited. University of Michigan Press.

Milner, Henry. 2010. The internet generation: Engaged citizens or political dropouts. Tufts University Press.

Raney, Tracey, and Loleen Berdahl. 2009. "Birds of a feather? Citizenship norms, group identity, and political participation in Western Canada." Canadian Journal of Political Science 42(1): 187–209.

Riker, W. H., and P. C. Ordeshook. 1968. "A theory of the calculus of voting." American Political Science Review 62(1): 25–42.

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Appendix A: The 2015 NYS questionnaire items and codes in the paper

Turnout

  • Did you vote in the last federal election held on October 19th, 2015? Yes=1; No=0.

Civic duty

  • People have different views about voting. For some, voting is a CHOICE. They feel free to vote or not to vote in an election depending on how they feel about the candidates and parties. For others, voting is a DUTY. They feel that they should vote in every election however they feel about the candidates and parties. For you personally, is voting FIRST AND FOREMOST a Choice or a Duty? Duty=1; Choice=0.
  • People have different views about voting. For some, voting is a DUTY. They feel that they should vote in every election however they feel about the candidates and parties. For others, voting is a CHOICE. They feel free to vote or not to vote in an election depending on how they feel about the candidates and parties. For you personally, is voting FIRST AND FOREMOST a Duty or a Choice? Duty=1; Choice=0.

Political knowledge

  • Which party won the most seats in the federal election held on October 19th?
  • Which level of government has primary responsibility for education?
  • Which level of government has primary responsibility for employment insurance?
  • What is the name of the premier of your province/territory?
  • What job or political office does David Cameron now hold? 3 or more correct answers=1; 2 or less correct answers=0.

Political interest

  • To what extent would you say you are interested in Canadian politics? Somewhat/very interested=1; Not very/not at all interested=0.

Electoral polarization

  • All federal political parties are the same; there is not really a choice. Somewhat/strongly disagree=1; Somewhat/strongly agree=0.

Issues' salience

  • There is at least one political party that talks about issues that are important to me. Somewhat/strongly agree=1; Somewhat/strongly disagree=0.

Internal efficacy

  • Sometimes politics and government seem so complicated that someone like me can't really understand what's going on. Somewhat/strongly disagree=1; Somewhat/strongly agree=0.

External efficacy

  • I do not think the government cares much about what people like me think. Somewhat/strongly disagree=1; Somewhat/strongly agree=0.

Probability of casting a decisive vote

  • I feel that by voting I can make a difference. Somewhat/strongly agree=1; Somewhat/strongly disagree=0.

Satisfaction with democracy

  • On the whole, how satisfied are you with the way democracy works in Canada? Somewhat/very satisfied=1; Somewhat/very dissatisfied=0.

Feelings toward politicians

  • How do you feel about politicians in general? 50 or higher score=1; Score lower than 50=0.

Feelings toward parties

  • How do you feel about political parties? 50 or higher score=1; Score lower than 50=0.

Information about how to register

  • Thinking about this last election, how difficult or easy was it to find information on how to register to vote? Somewhat/very easy=1; Somewhat/very difficult=0.

Information about candidates and parties

  • How difficult or easy was it to find out enough about candidates and political parties to know who to vote for in your riding? Somewhat/very easy=1; Somewhat/very difficult=0.

Information about when to vote

  • How difficult or easy was it to find out when to vote? Somewhat/very easy=1; Somewhat/very difficult=0.

Information about ways to vote

  • How difficult or easy was it to find out about the different ways to vote? Somewhat/very easy=1; Somewhat/very difficult=0.

Get to the voting location

  • [If you had voted] How difficult or easy was it/would it have been to get to your voting location? Somewhat/very easy=1; Somewhat/very difficult=0.

Prove identity/address

  • [If you had voted] How difficult or easy was it/would it have been to prove your identity and address? Somewhat/very easy=1; Somewhat/very difficult=0.