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What influences the electoral participation of immigrant voters?

With Canada holding an election on September 20, the federal parties are currently campaigning to win as many votes as possible, including from immigrant voters.

Of course, there is no such thing as the “immigrant vote”. Canada’s immigrants are as diverse as Canada itself. Immigrants do not lean toward one particular party. This is because they come from completely different countries, cultures, political traditions, and socio-economic backgrounds.

That being said, they tend to reside in Canada’s most vote-rich ridings, namely in the provinces of Quebec, Ontario, Alberta, and British Columbia. That makes them the subject of charm offensives by the various parties who each seek to highlight their pro-immigration credentials. Experts in Canada such as John Ibbitson of the Globe and Mail and Darrell Bricker of Ipsos Public Affairs have written on the increasing importance of immigrants in Canada’s elections.

Others in Canada have conducted research and written on the factors that influence immigrants on whether or not they will go to the polls. It is important for us to understand these factors for a number of reasons. One reason is Canada seeks to ensure that its immigrants settle and integrate into its society. Integration is key to immigrants enjoying successful lives in Canada and it is difficult for immigrants to integrate if they do not participate in our democracy.

Another reason it is important for us to understand what drives immigrants to the polls is so we can identify how to maximize the participation of immigrants in Canada’s democracy. If the research shows there are certain contributors that hinder immigrant voting than policymakers and other stakeholders can come up with solutions to tackle such barriers.

Time spent in Canada: Statistics Canada research shows immigrant voter turnout rises over time spent in Canada. This is likely due to immigrants needing time to become more civically engaged and learn about Canada’s political system and parties.

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