The lowest voter turnout on record occurred in 2008, when just 58.8 percent of eligible voters cast ballots. The 2011 federal election saw the third lowest voter participation in Canadian history, at 61.4 percent. Voter turnout increased dramatically in the 2015 federal election, reaching 68.5 percent, the highest level since 1993.
Voter turnout is calculated from reports submitted by polling stations. These reports include information about the number of registered voters and whether or not they voted. If a person is unable to vote because they are dead, in prison, or have become mentally ill, then their registration is cancelled. The official voter turnout rate is calculated from these reports and includes all eligible voters, including those who were absent, died before voting, or became legally incapable of doing so.
There are several factors that may influence voter turnout. Demographic characteristics of voters, such as age, gender, education, income, location, religion, ethnicity, and party affiliation are some examples. Political events such as elections, referendums, and by-elections may also affect turnout. For example, the 2014 federal election saw higher voter turnout than in previous elections because it was the first time that many younger Canadians had a chance to vote for a national government.
Canada's electoral system is based on universal suffrage, which means that every citizen over 18 years old is entitled to vote in federal elections.
The general fall in voter turnout in recent Canadian elections has received a lot of attention. The historical record provides an interesting viewpoint on this tendency. It is undeniable that the proportion of registered voters who vote has decreased, particularly after 1993. However, it should be noted that overall numbers are not very low. For example, over 85 percent of eligible voters turned out for the last federal election.
Some have argued that lower voter turnout is a problem for democracy. Others claim that it is not a problem at all because fewer people voting means that electoral outcomes better reflect the will of the people.
Either way, research has shown that higher rates of participation lead to more informed decisions by voters, better-representative governments and more balanced power between the different parts of society. So, although there is a decline in voter turnout, this is also associated with greater awareness among the public about what issues are most important to them.
Voter turnout has been falling across much of Europe, especially since the financial crisis. But it is still high by international standards. For example, nearly 80 percent of eligible voters turned out for the most recent French presidential election.
There are countries where voter turnout is much higher or lower than Canada's average. For example, some countries experience large increases or decreases in turnout for specific elections.
The proportion of registered voters who vote in an election is known as voter turnout. Elections Canada compiles voter turnout numbers for Canada's general elections, which are presented here. Before that election, the average rate over the previous five elections was 63 percent.
Canada has some of the highest rates of voting in the world. In the 2011 election, almost 80 percent of Canadians aged 18 and older were registered to vote, which ranked us second behind Italy. Turnout among this group was at 81.4 percent.
In terms of voting percentages, Canada ranks first or second in most elections since 1945 except in 1979 when there was a large boycott of the election due to fears about nuclear war between the United States and Russia. That year, only 50.9 percent of Canadians voted because of concerns about nuclear war preventing people from going to the polls.
Since then, voting rates have been on the rise again. In Monsey's analysis of data from various sources, she estimates that overall voting rates in Canada were 62.8 percent in 2019, not including those who did not register to vote.
This is higher than the estimated rates in many other countries.
Voter turnout in general elections in Canada
|Date of election||Population||Voter turnout as percentage of electors|