July 11, 2020

20° C, Partly cloudy

Full Forecast

Close this


Advertise With Us

Byelection turnouts usually sparse

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

Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 26/11/2010 (3514 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

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.




Average voter turnout: 35.4 per cent

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




Average voter turnout: 33.8 per cent

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


Advertise With Us

Your support has enabled us to provide free access to stories about COVID-19 because we believe everyone deserves trusted and critical information during the pandemic.

Our readership has contributed additional funding to give Free Press online subscriptions to those that can’t afford one in these extraordinary times — giving new readers the opportunity to see beyond the headlines and connect with other stories about their community.

To those who have made donations, thank you.

To those able to give and share our journalism with others, please Pay it Forward.

The Free Press has shared COVID-19 stories free of charge because we believe everyone deserves access to trusted and critical information during the pandemic.

While we stand by this decision, it has undoubtedly affected our bottom line.

After nearly 150 years of reporting on our city, we don’t want to stop any time soon. With your support, we’ll be able to forge ahead with our journalistic mission.

If you believe in an independent, transparent, and democratic press, please consider subscribing today.

We understand that some readers cannot afford a subscription during these difficult times and invite them to apply for a free digital subscription through our Pay it Forward program.

The Free Press will close this commenting platform at noon on July 14.

We want to thank those who have shared their views over the years as part of this reader engagement initiative.

In the coming weeks, the Free Press will announce new opportunities for readers to share their thoughts and to engage with our staff and each other.

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

Have Your Say

Have Your Say

Comments are open to The Winnipeg Free Press print or digital subscribers only. why?

Have Your Say

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

By submitting your comment, you agree to abide by our Community Standards and Moderation Policy. These guidelines were revised effective February 27, 2019. Have a question about our comment forum? Check our frequently asked questions.


Advertise With Us