Voter turnout could be lower than 2010: professor
| Posted: Saturday, Oct 05, 2013 06:00 am
A political science professor suggested voter turnout might not take an upward swing during this election.
“Smaller cities have a higher rate of turnout whenever there is a), a very competitive mayor’s race or b) a highly divisive issue,” said Jim Lightbody, a professor and chair of the political science department at the University of Alberta, who specializes in municipal politics, in an email. “Otherwise, small, socially homogeneous suburban communities like St. Albert would expect a turnout of about 30 per cent.”
Election turnout in St. Albert in 2010 was indeed around the 30 per cent mark, coming in at 34.16 per cent, with 15,886 ballots cast out of 46,503 reported eligible voters. In 2007, turnout was about the same, with 34.49 per cent of reported eligible voters casting a ballot. In 2004 the percentage was significantly higher – 46.13 per cent, but in 2001 it was 38.54 per cent.
Lightbody said the fact that the mayoral race is between the same two candidates as in 2010 could affect turnout.
“I’d project, given the mayoralty re-run, that St. Albert would have a lower turnout than last time,” Lightbody wrote.
Councillor races often don’t have much impact on voter turnout in municipal elections, he said.
“No one, apart from relatives, really cares about councillors unless they are genuine oddballs or issue-driven people. One or two of these will have no impact on turnout whatsoever,” Lightbody said.