News Manitoba

Poor turnout for provincial election

Jillian Austin, QMI Agency
Election day is Tuesday, Oct. 4.

Election day is Tuesday, Oct. 4.

With just 57% of registered voters casting a ballot in this year's provincial election, Premier Greg Selinger said the NDP will look at ways to encourage more people to get out and vote - including electronic voting.

"If we can secure the technology ... I'm open to that idea," he said Wednesday. "We want to find as many channels as possible for people to participate."

But many people are saying Elections Manitoba already made 2011 one of the most convenient years for voters.

"You could vote at the airport, for crying out loud," said political scientist Jared Wesley. "You could vote at a shopping mall, and you didn't even need to be in your own district."

Wesley said despite it being a perceived competitive campaign, there were only a handful of seats in play.

"Would-be Manitoba voters aren't stupid. They know when there's a competitive race in their district, and if they don't feel like their votes is going to make a difference, then they stay home," he said.


As for electronic voting, Wesley said it would just make it easier for those already likely to vote. More needs to be done to encourage young voters and disadvantaged people, he said.

Political analyst Paul Thomas said the low voter turnout is "discouraging."

"The voters are generally distrustful of politicians today and they're not feeling that voting is a very effective way of changing public policy," he said.

Negative campaigns on both the NDP and Progressive Conservative sides, Thomas added, "further reinforces the disillusion amongst voters that the political process is not very enriching or informative. It's about attacking the other parties and not offering positive policy proposals."