Low Voter Turnout in Canada

On October 19, 2015, some Canadians will head to the polls to vote in the federal election. However, as you can see from the chart below, there has been a growing trend for lower than average voter turnout in just the last few decades.

Turnout began to decline in the 1980s, where previously 80% of all eligible voters cast a ballot. Since the 2000s roughly 60% have turned up to vote, with the lowest voter turnout on record being 58.8% in 2008. So what is causing voter apathy?

A report produced by Elections Canada in 2003 concluded the following:

1) Politicians and Political Institutions
One of the major responses from Canadians was that they thought low voter turnout was due to the, “widespread perception that politicians are untrustworthy, selfish, unaccountable, lack credibility, are not true to their word.”

2) Meaninglessness
Another factor was the meaninglessness of the entire electoral process, with a popular response being, “It’s always the same thing over and over.”

3) Public Apathy
The final major category attributes public apathy for low voter turnout. The majority of Canadians who responded to the survey that the report was based on assumed that non-voters, “just do not care, do not pay attention, are lazy, or do not find the political scene exciting enough.”

Many respondents also contributed low voter turnout to the disengagement of youth, but as Frank Graves, the president and founder of EKOS Research Associates, has argued, “Youth political disengagement can be a vicious cycle: politicians offer little for young people because their low turnout means low payback on election day; and as the public conversation increasingly excludes young people’s concerns, their turnout declines further.”

When it comes to specific reasons that non-voters gave for not showing up to the polls, the report listed these top responses:

  • I didn’t vote because I didn’t know where or when to vote.
  • I didn’t vote because I was not on the list of electors.
  • I didn’t vote because I was ill.
  • I didn’t vote because I was out of town.
  • I didn’t vote because I was busy at work.
  • I didn’t vote because I didn’t think my vote would matter.
  • I didn’t vote because I didn’t like any of the candidates or political parties.
  • I didn’t vote because I wasn’t concerned with the issues of the campaign.
  • I didn’t vote because I just wasn’t interested in the election.

Some of these reasons can be easily rectified. For example for more information on where, when, and how to vote, visit the Elections Canada website. You can also find out how to register.

If you are unable to vote on elections day due to illness, being out of town, busy at work, or any other reason there are other options available. Unfortunately online voting is not a thing as of yet, but you can vote in advance or even by mail. For more information see the Elections Canada page on Ways to vote.

Remember, an uniformed vote can be just as bad as not voting at all, so check out this National Post article for an unbiased view of everything you need to know about the parties’ platforms.

Happy Voting!

Jess Lynn

About the Author
Jess Lynn Kramer is the founder of Within Your Hands, an on-line eco-store and blog that provides a wide-range of fun, modern, and functional items, as well as some tips and advice on how to make small changes for a healthier lifestyle.

Originally published at withinyourhands.ca.