Voter turnout 45% in October 7 election.

As analysts begin poring over the chicken entrails disgorged in Thursday’s elections, a sad announcement was made here on Weston Web. Paul Ferreira will likely quit politics as a result of this election. His shock announcement came in response to Weston Web readers yesterday.

What are we to make of this election? No doubt the full story will be told over the next few days. A quick rundown of the numbers from Elections Ontario using April’s eligible voter numbers gives an approximate (and unofficial) view of the voter turnout and percentage of the total number of voters in the riding (68,978 in April).

  • Laura Albanese..(L)…20.1%
  • Paul Ferreira..(NDP).18.9%
  • Lan Daniel..(PC)……..5.02%
  • Keith Jarrett..(G)……..0.6%

Total votes cast: 31,043

Approximate voter turnout: 45%. This is even lower than the dismal 51% in April in which Mike Sullivan defeated incumbent Alan Tonks. With so much at stake for Ontario’s second poorest riding, one must ask why voters couldn’t be bothered to move themselves to vote. Lord knows we have enough compelling issues – lack of jobs, poverty, atrocious rental housing, lack of decent transportation, large numbers of diesel trains about to pollute the area – the list goes on and on. The winning candidate only seemed to come to life and muster up some fighting spirit for the election and will no doubt slip back into obscurity once the dust settles.

So the bottom line is, a winning political candidate in York South Weston only needs to convince about 1 in 5 eligible voters to get out and mark an x.

That is truly pathetic.

Election Results: The 20% Solution.

With no word from Alan Tonks about his stunning defeat, regular folks and political insiders are buzzing about Mike Sullivan’s upset victory in York South-Weston.  Sometimes statistics can provide an insight into what happened.

The voter turnout this time was 51% which is well below the average of around 61% for the country. In 2008 it was 50.4%. Why is our voter turnout so low? Who knows; maybe non-voters feel disconnected from the process or perhaps they feel that it doesn’t matter who wins. Either way, democracy is not well served when half of eligible voters decide that it is a waste of time to vote. The winning candidate won by a comfortable margin yet received 14,119 votes –  that’s only 20.4% of the riding’s 68,978 eligible voters. Think about it; 20% of voters decided the result.

Here are the vote counts and electorate percentages:

  • Mike Sullivan 14,119 …..20.4%
  • Alan Tonks 11,481 ……..16.7%
  • Jilian Saweczko 8530 …..12.4%
  • Sonny Day 1045 ………….1.5%

In municipal elections, voter turnout is even lower – only 40% bothered to vote in Ward 11 last time.

A determined candidate needed to marshal less than 20% of the vote this time—Mike Sullivan was that candidate. Without taking away from Mike Sullivan’s message and excellent campaign, this should be a warning to all politicians who feel that they own a safe seat. The fact is that where voter turnout is traditionally low, a candidate with credibility and determination can overcome even the most comfortable of incumbents.