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Voter turnout drops again

Globe and Mail Update

Voter turnout in Monday's general election, dropped to its lowest level at 60.5 per cent, according to preliminary results from Elections Canada.

But when compared with the 62.8 per cent in 2000, the difference is insignificant, University of Toronto political science assistant professor Renan Levine told globeandmail.com.

“I wouldn't be concerned by a ‘decline' unless it was at least a six-percentage-point drop,” Prof. Levine said.

Although, voter turnout was probably higher than it might have been because polls indicated that the race between the Tories and Grits was close, he said.

“Turnout will rise whenever it seems that there are different groups competing for power in a way that will leave the losers out of the governing mix,” Prof. Levine said.

If two parties are fairly similar in mandate and platform, voters may be disinclined to vote, he said.

Voters may also consider that much of the decision-making is made at the provincial and municipal levels, he said.

“Canada will never have a very high turnout relative to some other countries...as long as the divisions in society are not stark working class versus the bourgeoisie,” he said, “I think a lot of Canadians value the fact that they are not living in a society which is particularly polarized.”

Voter turnout has declined over the years.

Twenty years ago, voter turnout was 69 per cent, 30 years ago it was between 75 to 76 per cent, and 40 years ago it was 79 per cent. Before the 2000 election, the lowest turnout at 62.9 per cent was when Sir Wilfred Laurier beat the Conservatives in 1896.

But these changes could reflect increased mobility and immigrant influx, he said.

Nunavut had the lowest voter turnout at 42.9 per cent and Prince Edward Island had the highest at 70.7 per cent.

Elections Canada numbers may change when all polls are reported, a spokesperson said.

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