voter turnout canada

Voter turnout for the federal election in Canada wasn't amazing

A massive boost in the number of people using advance polls ahead of Canada's 43rd general election did not translate into higher voter turnout overall in 2019, it seems.

Preliminary estimates from Elections Canada show that roughly 66 per cent of eligible voters cast a ballot during this year's federal election, which saw Liberal leader Justin Trudeau re-elected Prime Minister (with a minority government).

Exactly 17,890,264 of 27,126,166 registered electors have been logged into the system, according to Elections Canada, with 99.7 per cent of polls reporting.

This preliminary figure is based entirely on data provided by returning officers at voting stations, and does not include voters who registered on election day, but nonetheless provides a solid glimpse into 2019's participation rate.

Some analysts had been expecting exceptionally high voter turnout this year based on advance polling station activity, which was up a whopping 30 per cent over 2015.

A total of 4.77 million people took to the polls across the country last weekend, compared to just 3.65 million who voted in advance of the last federal election.

And yet, now that election day has come and gone, overall voter turnout is actually down.

The percentage of eligible Canadians who voted in 2015 was 68.3 per cent, more than 2 points higher than what has been recorded this year.

It's not a dismal showing, by any means — this year's voter turnout of 65.95 per cent is still well up over the 61.4 per cent observed in 2011, and far higher than the record low turnout of 58.8 per cent recorded in 2008.

Further to that, more people actually voted in this year's election than in 2015. More than 27 million Canadians were eligible to vote this time around, including more than 1 million long-term expats who had previously been unable to vote from abroad.

News of a drop in voter turnout — even a slight one — is disappointing many people, regardless.

Some people are also confused by the seeming incongruities between what people were saying ahead of the vote vs. what they actually did on election day.

Politically-minded youth who have been so keen to march for the environment and share their thoughts on social media don't appear to have shown up to the polls in droves as expected.

Demographic breakdowns aren't yet available for this year's election, but it's of note that Canadians between the ages of 18 and 37 made up the largest voting bloc for 2019.

The 2015 election saw voter turnout among people aged 18-24 jump from 38.8 to 57.1 per cent. Whether that rate was maintained in 2019 appears to be seen, but experts are urging voters to temper their expectations.

"Turnout is lower in younger people," said UBC political science professor Richard Johnston to the Globe and Mail in a piece published this morning. "That's not a generational phenomenon, it's a life-cycle phenomenon.

"Older folks have just accumulated more of the stuff that gets them to the polls, including fixed addresses, landlines – things that enable them to be contacted," he said of the trend.

"That's just a fact. It says nothing about 'kids these days.'"

Lead photo by

Gone Coastal

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