Wednesday, November 11, 2015

On turnout

Daniel Schwartz reports on the final vote count from last month's federal election. And given the record vote total and unusually high turnout based on the percentage of eligible voters, it's particularly worth noting what's changed since previous, lower-turnout elections.

Since 2011, the Conservatives eliminated the per-vote subsidy, which provided political parties with a direct financial incentive to seek out votes even where they were less likely to flip seats. To the extent Canada's political parties included the subsidy in their election planning, we'd thus have expected a lower turnout this time out.

Since 2011, the Conservatives also eliminated Elections Canada's authority to promote voting, while also restricting access to the ballot box through multiple amendments to Canada's electoral law. And that too would have been expected to reduce turnout.

Of course, the other difference from the perspective of the parties since 2011 is that we aw an unusually large number of parties targeting enough seats to form government for years in advance of the 2015 election. And it's possible that led to a greater amount of work persuading people to vote than might have existed otherwise.

(Anybody looking for support for that theory might look to the point at which turnout dropped after 1993.)

But it's worth recognizing that the choice of more people to participate seems to have outweighed the systemic changes the Cons put in place to limit voting. Which means there's room for growth to the extent the Cons' voter suppression tactics are reversed - but also real danger of slippage if we can't maintain the interest that pulled people to the polls this time.

No comments:

Post a Comment