Nippy weather, wind keep plenty of voters away from polling stations

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Who wimped out on braving the weather?

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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 28/10/2010 (4532 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

Who wimped out on braving the weather?

We came so close — sooooo close — to having our best election turnout since the last century.

Instead, we let both Toronto and Calgary boast that their municipal elections brought more people to the polls than ours.

We didn’t even break 50 per cent.

We only got to 47.1 per cent.

It was disappointing, senior city hall elections official Marc Lemoine acknowledged Wednesday night, especially after such a great effort to persuade people to vote. “It was, right,” Lemoine said. “As soon as they started talking about the S-word (snow), you knew.

“It was a horrible day in terms of the weather.”

Well sure, it was better than the abysmal 38.2 per cent turnout in 2006, but didn’t match the turnouts through the ’90s, Lemoine said, when we regularly broke 50 per cent.

And this year we had some really exciting races, some poll-by-poll nailbiters.

Lemoine said there were no glitches in voting, and everyone who was at a polling station by 8 p.m. got to vote.

One way to improve the voting turnout would be Internet voting, said Lemoine. It would need a change in provincial legislation, but we have the technology.

“They do Internet voting in Markham and Peterborough and Burlington” in Ontario, he said. People come to city hall and are issued a password and PIN number.

Long-time political pundit Bill Neville said he knew the weather would be bad news at the polling stations.

“That was my thought when I first ventured out,” said Neville, a retired University of Manitoba professor and a former city councillor.

Good races will always bring people out, he said, but the weather would also have deterred some voters.

Neville pointed out that Winnipeg has not turfed an incumbent mayor since 1956.

“We stayed with our long tradition of re-electing incumbent mayors,” he said.

As for sitting councillors, it was “a good night for incumbents,” he said.

Monday, when Ontario went to the polls with admittedly better weather than we had Wednesday, Toronto had a 53.2 per cent turnout.

But, should we want to feel superior, Ottawa drew only 44 per cent — down from 54 per cent in 2006 — Hamilton drew 40 and Mississauga 34.3 per cent.

The week before, Calgary drew 54 per cent. In Medicine Hat, turnout was a dismal 38 per cent, 10 points lower than it was three years ago. In Edmonton, it was an even lower 34 per cent. And in Red Deer, the city recorded its lowest turnout ever at just 24.8 per cent.

OK, we’re better than quite a few places, but 47.1 per cent doesn’t even make the playoffs, not even on a crossover.

nick.martin@freepress.mb.ca

 

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