Q02 - Trust and Elections II

Date: Jun 12 | Time: 10:15am to 11:45am | Location:

Trust is among the most studied concept in political science. This panel seeks to understand and maintain voters’ trust toward the accuracy of the election results and electoral integrity. It also aims to discuss trends in trust among different subgroups of the population and the factors that drive institutional trust.

Civic engagement and trust in elections among Youth in Canada: Olivia Kamgain (Elections Canada), Graham Laurie (Elections Canada)
Abstract: A general decline in voter turnout in Canadian elections has been observed over the past decades, with young electors displaying the lowest levels of participation compared to older electors. Literature shows a link between political trust and electoral participation (Smets and Van Ham, 2013). Studies focusing on the formation of trusting and mistrusting attitudes toward public institutions, including the police, the media and government institutions have demonstrated the role of experience of interacting with these institutions in shaping these attitudes (Ash et al, 2021; Ellison et al, 2020; Chevalier 2019), suggesting that one type of experience relevant to political trust is civic engagement (Gabriel, 2017). This paper explores the relationship between trust toward public institutions and electoral experiences based on levels of civic engagement, political socialization and reported voter participation in recent Canadian federal general elections, with a focus on youth. It relies on data from National Electors Study (NES) as well as the Canadian Election Study (CES). This paper aims to contribute to the recent theoretical literature that is concerned with building a type of trust that is inducive to positive democratic outcomes, and that conceive trust as a relational attitude that is responsive to being shaped by information and experiences (Lenard 2012; Norris, 2022). The results presented describe trust toward public institutions and the electoral process among youth aged 18 to 34, and a multivariate regression analysis shows the effect of experiences related to civic engagement on trust in public institutions and toward the electoral process.

Democratic Socialization and Institutional trust among New Canadian electors: Pantea Behroozi (Elections Canada)
Abstract: The legitimacy of public institutions matters for building inclusive and peaceful societies. While levels of trust in institutions vary significantly across countries, opinion surveys suggest that there has been a decline in recent decades. The existing empirical literature offers limited insight into how pre-immigration experiences affect building trust in democratic institutions. With a rapid change in the country of origin of immigrants who moved to Canada in last decades (Hou. Fand Picot G 2016), how do new Canadian electors build trust in new host governments and institutions? Cultural theorists argue that trust starts early in life and is less likely to change later on. However, institutionalists see trust as a byproduct of a rational assessment of delivered services or their lack thereof (Almond and Verba 1963, Inglehart 1990; Waldron-Moore 1999). This longitudinal analysis examines the extent to which the country of origin of naturalized citizens determines the level of institutional trust. Using Elections Canada's 2021 and 2021 National Electors Study (NES) and the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) index of the quality of democratic regimes, this study will focus on political trust among naturalized Canadians electors, as opposed to their Canadian-born counterparts.

Can we make cyber elections secure and accessible? Evaluating experiences with online voting systems: Nicole Goodman (Brock University)
Abstract: Online voting is one of several election technologies that are digitally transforming Canada’s sub-national elections. Online ballots can make voting more accessible and convenient for electors (Hall, 2015) especially in uncertain times (i.e., during COVID-19, the wildfires in NWT). However, the security of the voting mode is often called into question (Benaloh et al., 2014) especially given the uptick in technical incidents in recent years (Goodman et al., forthcoming). The traditional online voting systems predominantly used in Canada offer relatively weak security but have the benefit of being user friendly and accessible. While more advanced systems are available, when variations are implemented, uptake by voters is extremely limited (Goodman et al., 2023). Drawing upon survey data, eye-tracking, and biometrics such as heart rate and respiration rate this experimental study compares electors' experiences using (1) a more secure and (2) a less secure online voting system in a laboratory setting. The study goal is to evaluate the extent to which electors perceive more and less secure online voting systems as user friendly and accessible. Comparing survey data obtained before and after trialing the different voting systems in combination with physiological data allows us to evaluate whether respondents' perceptions about their experience with the system matches their physiology and what this means for the usability of online voting systems. For example, someone may say that they perceive the system to be easy but their eye-tracking patterns indicate otherwise. Likewise, a respondents may report they feel the system is challenging but their biomarkers indicate that they struggled with one specific aspect. The paper presents a new perspective on voter experiences in the digital age and makes concrete suggestions regarding how digital voting can be both accessible and secure to promote the integrity of elections.