Turnout Last Night

I hate to toss up yet another by election post because we shouldn’t read too much into them. So rather than look at the results, I’ll just add a final word on voter turn-out. Here’s where it was yesterday:

Montmagny 36.6%
Cumberland-Colchester 35.7%
New Westminster Coquitlam 29.9%
Hochelaga 22.3%

The average turnout of 31.1% isn’t much worse than the normal for by elections – since 1998, it’s been 34.5%. And last night was actually an improvement on the dismal 27.8% turnout in last year’s 4 by election.

The only number that really stands out is Hochelaga, where under 1 in 4 registered voters took the time to vote. I know it was a slam dunk election for the Bloc, but the riding was right around the national average in the last general election (58%), so it’s surprising that it would get so low.

Especially when you look at it historically. Elections Canada only has turn out rates going back to 1998, but Hochelaga marks the lowest by election turn out over that time period (36 by elections) – making it, quite possibly, one of the lowest vote turn outs ever in a federal by election. Here were the previous lows:

Saint-Léonard–Saint-Michel (2003) – 22.9%
Calgary Southwest (2003) – 23.1% (in fairness, there weren’t any good candidates to vote for in this one)
Lévis-et-Chutes-de-la-Chaudière (2003) – 23.5%
Willowdale (2008) – 24.4%
Denesthe-Missnipi-Churchill River (2008) – 25.0%

So what was the best by election turn out over that period, and the only time half the voters came out?

That would be the 2005 Labrador by election that sent Todd Russell to Ottawa in a rout, showing that it’s not just a close by election that gets people to the polls. On the flip side, everyone expected Denesthe to be close last year and it still made the list of worst shows.

Posted on by CalgaryGrit in by elections

About CalgaryGrit

A former Calgary Liberal, now living in Toronto. My writings on politics can be found at www.calgarygrit.ca and online at the National Post.

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