Let’s play a game – guess the voter turnout for the 2008 federal election.
First, let’s take a look at the voter turnout from the last few times we hit the polls (for more numbers, stop by Elections Canada):
November 21, 1988 – 75.3%
October 25, 1993 – 71.8%
June 2, 1997 – 67%
November 27, 2000 – 64.1%
June 28, 2004 – 60.9%
January 23, 2006 – 64. 7%
So what happened in 2006 that resulted in at least a few more Canadians voting? Were we starting to care once more about democracy? Or perhaps they just really wanted the Liberals out of power after their ten-plus-year run? Whatever it was, it certainly makes this game more interesting. Will voter turnout jump up even further in 2008? Or will it return to its downward spiral?
To answer those questions, we need to take a couple other big factors into consideration, the first being the timing of the election. In addition to being a Jewish holiday, October 14 is also the day after Thanksgiving. While some Canadians will likely be taking advantage of that stat holiday to take a vacation, others will spend Tuesday scrambling to catch up on work. Though many Canadians certainly consider voting as their civic duty, others see it as something to squeeze in after work and before dinner. If those individuals have to stay late at the office, the store or the factory, voting might just be squeezed out all together.
The other big faction to consider is of course the atmosphere that surrounds this election. As everyone and their dog have pointed out, the only Canadian who wants this election is Stephen Harper. We are a country that simply is not currently interested in going to the polls and the lack of a defining issue, charismatic personalities and fresh but digestible policies aren’t helping matters.
True, it’s only week two; there’s still plenty of time for drama and scandal to take place. And maybe if the media discovers Harper’s plans for world domination or that Layton drives an import, Canadians will get fired up about this election.
Also, I suspect that if week five poll numbers put Harper within a striking distance of a majority, we’ll see a rush of ABC Canadians heading out to vote on October 14.
So what kind of registered voter turnout does this all add up to? My guess is 62.9. What’s yours?