The NDP's cruise to its historic fourth majority government comes as Manitoba's voter turnout continues to remain one of the lowest in the country.

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This article was published 4/10/2011 (3927 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

The NDP's cruise to its historic fourth majority government comes as Manitoba's voter turnout continues to remain one of the lowest in the country.

With almost every poll reporting by press time, voter turnout hovered around 50 per cent, down from 56.76 per cent in 2007.

Between 1980 and 2009, only Ontario and Alberta have also maintained average turnouts below 60 per cent, according to Elections Canada.

"It just seems that people aren't participating the way they have in the past. We're hoping that would have turned around," said Mary Skanderbeg, operations manager of Elections Manitoba.

"It's a very complex thing that everybody has to address."

It's not for a lack of trying.

The campaign was the first in which Elections Manitoba rolled out bus and billboard advertising. The organization also took advantage of legislative changes, like an extra day of advance polling and extended polling hours, Skanderbeg said.

"Elections Manitoba deserves a medal. I don't think any other Canadian province has made voting this easy before," said political scientist Jared Wesley.

"You could vote at the airport. They've gone above and beyond election authorities anywhere else."

Wesley called riding competiveness the largest driver of turnout, with safe ridings discouraging voters from marking their ballots.

"Not a lot of ridings were close during the evening," he said. "It looks like voters can see through that and see their riding is safe and not have to turn out to vote."

Strong advance polling numbers had yet to be rolled into the totals.

About 78,600 Manitobans cast their ballots during the eight days of advance voting this year. That's up from 42,775 votes cast over seven days of advance voting in the 2007 election.

Still, Manitoba has among the worst voting turnout records in Canada across all age groups at both the federal and provincial levels. Turnout has been on a steady decline in the province since the early 1970s, peaking at 78 per cent in 1973.

Turnout hit an all-time low in 2003, when only 54 per cent of registered voters cast a ballot.

And if weather is considered to be a factor, consider it moot.

In 2003 and 2007 -- both springtime elections -- weather conditions were good but did not reflect an increase at the polls, Skanderbeg said.

By comparison, P.E.I. is bemoaning its lowest voter turnout in decades -- around 75 per cent.

It's likely to be lowest turnout ever for the tiny Maritime province, or at least the lowest since 1966 when Elections P.E.I. began tracking turnout. It's also the first time since 1982 that turnout in that province has dipped below 80 per cent.

High turnouts are expected in smaller, isolated provinces like P.E.I, Newfoundland and even Saskatchewan, Wesley said. Heavy migration and immigration numbers have a greater impact on Manitoba's turnout, he said.