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2011 Election, Federal Politics

Voter turnout by the numbers

Image Courtesy of Politico

The National Post took a look at how voter turnout played out across the country: who showed up last Monday to vote, and who stayed at home. The monumental task that will keep pollsters up to the wee hours of the morning for the next few months will be figuring out why those voters stayed home. The numbers will be dissected and re-sected (if that can be done) until they know everything that can possibly be known about the 61.4% of us who bothered to vote.

Want to know how your province stacked up to other provinces? Here is the province-by-province change in turnout rate from the 2008 election to the 2011 election from the National Post, if you’re curious.

British Columbia
Increase: 2%
Turnout 2011: 60.89%
Turnout 2008: 59.81%

Alberta
Increase: 8%
Turnout 2011 56.29%
Turnout 2008: 52.21%

Saskatchewan
Increase: 9%
Turnout 2011: 63.8%
Turnout 2008: 58.4%

Manitoba
Increase: 7%
Turnout 2011: 59.69%
Turnout 2008: 55.56%

Ontario
Increase: 6%
Turnout 2011: 62.08%
Turnout 2008: 58.48%

Quebec
Increase: less than 1%
Turnout 2011: 61.96%
Turnout 2008: 61.43%

New Brunswick
Increase: 5%
Turnout 2011: 66.23%
Turnout 2008: 62.95%

Nova Scotia
Increase: 3%
Turnout 2011: 62.15%
Turnout 2008: 60.35%

Prince Edward Island
Increase: 7%
Turnout 2011: 73.95%
Turnout 2008: 69%

Newfoundland and Labrador

Increase: 13%
Turnout 2011: 52.50%
Turnout 2008: 46.54%

The North (Yukon, Northwest Territories and Nunavut)
Increase: 15%
Turnout 2011: 60.73%
Turnout 2008: 52.77%

Two things jump out at me, aside from the rise of less than one percent in voter turnout in Quebec, which is odd given how much attention the province typically receives around election time, and how historic the shift was away from the Bloc and towards the New Democrats.

The first is that before we applaud little Prince Edward Island for getting out almost 74% of the vote, we should remember they have a population of roughly 140,000. This still leaves almost 37,000 people unaccounted for, which in a province of this size is still rather disappointing. The entire province, based on rep by pop, would see PEI receive one seat. But, remembering Civics 101, PEI cannot have fewer seats in the House of Commons than they have Senators. So they get bumped up to four seats, and yet cannot get more than 103,000 people out to vote.

Secondly, and most surprisingly, is the consistently well below average voter turnout in Alberta. Look again at the numbers: 56.29% in 2011, up 8% from 2008’s turnout of 52.21%. Even with their better turnout this time around, this is still over 5% lower than the national average. The Conservative heartland (although, living in Ontario, it would be easy to claim that we are the new Conservative heartland, which I am still having a really hard time coming to grips with) cannot be bothered to come out and vote.

Here is what the post has to say:

Alberta has long been a haven of voter apathy toward federal politics, thanks to years of uncompetitive races that have elected Conservatives with sweeping majorities. This year, however, talk of an NDP surge seems to have renewed the vigour of Conservative voters in the party’s heartland.

Stephen Clarkson, a political scientist at the U of T, also weighed in on the matter, arguing that voter disgust in Alberta with the mere thought of a ‘socialist’ opposition or – sweet mother of Gawd – a ‘socialist’ government, heaven forbid, would have been enough to whip the Alberta electorate out of their apathetic stupor. But even the fear of Layton’s elite Toronto socialists taking power was only enough to get 56.29% of them into the voting booth.

This is sad that our Prime Minister personally represents the nation’s most indifferent voters.

Got anything to say for yourself, Alberta?

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About awreeves

Environmentalist Geography MA Nonfiction MFA Citizen

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