Canadian Voter Participation Expected To Hit New Lows

In the last Canadian Federal Election in 2008, voter participation plunged to a historic low: Merely 58.8% of eligible voters turned out to cast their ballots,  a significant drop from the previous election and the first time voter participation had dipped under 60%. 

With the next election looming on Monday, what are the odds that participation will improve? Not good, says Political Scientist Lawrence Leduc in the Globe and Mail. He’s done the numbers, and if he’s correct, voter participation could sneak as low as 57%.

Why the apathy? Many theories abound. It’s true that this is the fourth election in seven years, with the last three resulting in minority governments and the outcome unlikely to be much different this time.  

Key support groups for each political party may also be staying away in droves–for example, pro-life advocates are unimpressed with Stephen Harper’s vow not to reopen the abortion debate and may simply stay home to show their displeasure.  

Youth and minorities feel unrepresented and unheard with the majority of candidates being old white men, with candidates whose priorities are tax cuts for corporations and fighter jets

Hyperpartisanship is at an all time high and civility is at an all-time low in the House of Commons, alienating all but the uber-political. Conservative attack ads have also done their intended job, leaving swing voters disillusioned with the opposition parties but still not inclined to vote Conservative.  Overall, there appears to be a general sense of “voting doesn’t matter.”

What can turn the tide? Not much, says political scientist John Pammett, who says lack of voter turnout is a “generational” trend that began in the 1990s. Are we destined to have our government run without our voices being heard at all? And if so, do we still have the right to complain?

For more Care2 coverage on the Canadian election, click here.


Photo credit: Muffet on Flickr


William C
William C4 months ago


W. C
W. C4 months ago

Thank you for the article.

wendy s.
wendy sheridan6 years ago

It is every ones duty to vote, I feel this time around we are in for a bit of a suprise, so do your thing people go with your heart not you wallet,do whats right.

Darren Dagg
Darren Dagg6 years ago

this man apparently doesn't do any research or he's clearly a Conservative trying to lower voter morale . The advance polls have already shown Canadians care and are fed up, as the amount of people who cast their vote was one of the highest in many elections.

Lynette B.
Lynette B6 years ago

I'm not sure I agree with this article. There was a record turn-out to the advance polls last weekend; and the Canadian news is still reporting on potential election upsets within certain ridings, and in general shifts in voting preferences. I guess after Monday, we will see who is right....

heather g.
heather g6 years ago

Wow - talk about attitude ! Or is it anger that cannot be expressed without resorting to unpleasant language? May I suggest that this article may have been written prior to the first voting which took place at the advance polls.

Anita R.
Anita R6 years ago

I don't think this guy knows what he's talking about. The advance polls last weekend had a heavy turnout, and it's a more interesting election than we've had in years. Plus, there are Vote Mobs and Social Media drives to get out the younger vote. I'm expecting a higher turnout this time. And I've already voted, and I feel great!

John E.
John E6 years ago

Pay no attention to polls, surveys etc. ... maybe they're right, maybe they're totally wrong ... who can tell?

Just vote, even if it's only for the least worst.

Because the bad guys always vote, except they vote for the most worst.

Ernest R.
Ernest R6 years ago

My problem is not apathy but disgust with the suicidal immigration policies of every party I refuse to vote for the detriment of my country, As there is no option for “none of the above” I will have to spoil a ballot, even though that won’t accomplish much more than not voting at all. For those non voters with guilt feelings who feel they have no right to complain, you DO have a right to complain about governments that affect your life. That being said, ABC does sound appealing.

Rita Flynn
Rita Odessa6 years ago

I never took voting too serious when I was younger however over the last few years I have educated myself more about what is going on. Our votes or opinions may not always be represented as we want, and I am the first to call our democracy, socialist. However, many people fight for this right all over the world to have a voice. I am starting to realize as jaded as it may be, at least I have the right. I think I am going to exercise that right on May 2. So should you!