Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Byelection turnouts usually sparse

With PM's job not at stake, fewer votes up for grabs

  • Print

OTTAWA -- The number of people who have already voted in the Winnipeg North byelection soared this month compared to the last general election.

But don't expect that to mean turnout at the polls next week will follow suit.

Byelections traditionally have among the lowest turnout of any election, no matter the level of government, said Richard Sigurdson, University of Manitoba politics professor and dean of the faculty of arts.

"There just isn't as much at stake," he said. "Most people are motivated to come to the polls to decide who the government will be."

Elections Canada last week reported turnout at advance polls for all three of the byelections that will be decided Nov. 29. In Winnipeg North, the preliminary numbers suggest 2,057 people voted at the advance polls, 39 per cent more than voted in the advance polls in that riding in the 2008 general election.

In Vaughan, a riding in suburban Toronto, advance-poll turnout was over 4,000, a 30 per cent jump from 2008.

In Dauphin-Swan River-Marquette, advance-poll turnout dropped 48 per cent.

It could be a function of interest. The races in both Winnipeg North and Vaughan are close and getting out the vote could have a huge impact on who wins.

In Dauphin-Swan River-Marquette, few think anyone but Conservative Robert Sopuck has a chance.

Sigurdson said most often if advance polls increase, it's due to their becoming more accessible and common, not because it's attracting people to vote who wouldn't otherwise have done so.

"People that know about advance polls are already more informed than John and Joe on the street," he said.

Most often, byelections have dismal interest from the electorate.

Since 2006, there have been 13 byelections in federal ridings. The highest turnout in any of them was in the Quebec riding of Roberval-Lac Saint Jean in 2007 when 46.8 per cent of voters cast a ballot. In four of them, turnout was under 25 per cent, meaning less than one in four voters went to the polls.

Many of them were held within a year of a general election where turnout was far better.

Sigurdson said occasionally a byelection can occur at a time of unrest among the electorate, such as in the late 1980s when everything was about free trade. There are no such national issues at stake this time.

Sometimes there can also be local issues that compel people to the polls. In Winnipeg North, the campaign began just after a shooting spree left two people dead and a teenage girl injured. It made crime the number-one focus of the campaign and might get some people paying more attention.

Byelections can, however, be a chance for voters to send a message to a party or elect a candidate who offers something different without affecting the overall makeup of government. Occasionally it means a candidate is elected who probably doesn't have much chance in a general election.

mia.rabson@freepress.mb.ca

FEDERAL BYELECTIONS HELD SINCE 2005: 14

 

Average voter turnout: 35.4 per cent

Average voter turnout, last three general elections: 61.4 per cent

 

PROVINCIAL BYELECTIONS HELD SINCE 2005: 4

 

Average voter turnout: 33.8 per cent

Average voter turnout, last two provincial elections: 55.46 per cent

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition November 27, 2010 A6

Fact Check

Fact Check

Have you found an error, or know of something we’ve missed in one of our stories?
Please use the form below and let us know.

* Required
  • Please post the headline of the story or the title of the video with the error.

  • Please post exactly what was wrong with the story.

  • Please indicate your source for the correct information.

  • Yes

    No

  • This will only be used to contact you if we have a question about your submission, it will not be used to identify you or be published.

  • Cancel

Having problems with the form?

Contact Us Directly
  • Print

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

Have Your Say

New to commenting? Check out our Frequently Asked Questions.

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscribers only. why?

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press Subscribers only. why?

The Winnipeg Free Press does not necessarily endorse any of the views posted. By submitting your comment, you agree to our Terms and Conditions. These terms were revised effective April 16, 2010.

letters

Make text: Larger | Smaller

LATEST VIDEO

Winnipeg Cheapskate: Your cheapskate questions

View more like this

Photo Store Gallery

  • PHIL HOSSACK / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS 060710 The full moon rises above the prairie south of Winnipeg Monday evening.
  • Geese take cover in long grass in the Tuxedo Business Park near Route 90 Wednesday- Day 28– June 27, 2012   (JOE BRYKSA / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS)

View More Gallery Photos

U2011: Understanding the Manitoba election: University of Manitoba

Poll

Do you think the Jets' three pre-season losses in a row are a sign of things to come?

View Results

View Related Story

Ads by Google