Monday, April 23, 2012

Provinces' Voter Turnout does not Correlate Exactly to the FDA's Electoral Finance Results

In its recent Canadian Provinces Electoral Finance study, the FDA measured electoral finance fairness in Canada's provinces as follows:

1. Québec (100 percent)
2. Manitoba (85.1 percent)
3. Nova Scotia (77.4 percent)
4. New Brunswick (72.1 percent)
5. Ontario (66.3 percent)
6. Newfoundland and Labrador (51.3 percent)
7. British Columbia (49.1 percent)
8. Saskatchewan (49 percent)
9. Prince Edward Island (48.4 percent)
10. Alberta (47.7 percent)

Turnout in Provincial Elections, 1965 to 2009 Provinces:

40.6% (2008) Minimum Turnout (Year)
72.0% (1971) Maximum Turnout (Year)
British Columbia
51.0% (2009) Minimum Turnout (Year)
77.7% (1983) Maximum Turnout (Year)

54.2% (2003) Minimum Turnout (Year)
78.3% (1973) Maximum Turnout (Year)

Newfoundland and Labrador
61.3% (2007) Minimum Turnout (Year)
83.6% (1993) Maximum Turnout (Year)

New Brunswick
67.5% (2006) Minimum Turnout (Year)
82.1% (1967) Maximum Turnout (Year)

Nova Scotia
58.0% (2009) Minimum Turnout (Year)
78.2% (1978) Maximum Turnout (Year
52.1% (2007) Minimum Turnout (Year)
73.5% (1971) Maximum Turnout (Year)

Prince Edward Island
78.2% (1982) Minimum Turnout (Year)
87.3% (1970) Maximum Turnout (Year)

57.4% (2008) Minimum Turnout (Year)
85.3% (1976) Maximum Turnout (Year)

64.6% (1995) Minimum Turnout (Year)
83.9% (1982) Maximum Turnout (Year)

40.6% (AB 2008) Minimum Turnout (Year)
87.3% (PE 1970) Maximum Turnout (Year)
71.5% Overall mean

Mean Turnout (Ranking out of 10) (1965-2009)

1. Prince Edward Island 83.8%
2. Saskatchewan 77.0%
3. Quebec 76.3%
4. New Brunswick 76.9%
5. Newfoundland and Labrador 74.2%
6. Nova Scotia 71.1%
7. British Columbia 69.2%
8. Manitoba 67.9%
9. Ontario 62.5%
10. Alberta 56.4%

Source: Reports of Chief Electoral Officers, calculations by Jared J. Wesley


Alberta is last in voter turnout percentages and electoral finance fairness. However, Manitoba's low voter turnout does not correlate to its high score for electoral finance. Also, Prince Edward Island's and Newfoundland and Labrador's high voter turnout do not correlate to their low electoral finance scores. Quebec's high voter turnout correlates somewhat to its very high electoral finance score. Saskatchewan's high voter turnout does not correlate to its low electoral finance score.

The FDA believes that there are many factors behind voter turnout. This complexity likely explains the lack of exact correlation between voter turnout and fairness of electoral finance legislation. In addition, electoral finance legislation is only one main part of the electoral process. There are other areas such as media laws and candidate and party regulations which also have an impact.

Further, the FDA electoral finance study is based on 2011 legislation, while the voter turnout percentages are based on 1965 to 2009. In the case of Quebec, for example, it has made recent improvements in its legislation including lower caps on electoral contributions. Prince Edward Island has a population of about 150,000, which may encourage higher voter turnout. Another issue is how many voters from 1965 to 2009 were aware of the fairness of their province's electoral finance legislation? If there is minimal awareness, then fairness of electoral fairness would have minimal potential impact. 

2012 FDA Canadian Provinces Electoral Finance Study

Turnout in Canadian Provincial Elections 1965-2009 

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