Tag Archives: Voter Turnout

How Young Voters are accessing information about elections, from the National Youth Voter Survey

Young people don’t vote,” is a common refrain heard in Canadian politics and until recently, low voter turnout by younger voters supported that claim. The recently released National Youth Voter Survey conducted by Elections Canada following the 2015 federal elections suggests that things may have changed.

According to Elections Canada data, turnout among voters aged 18 to 24 in Alberta jumped from 33.7 percent in the 2011 federal election to 59.5 percent in the October 2015 vote. Turnout among voters aged 24 to 34 jumped from 37.8 in 2011 to 58.2 percent in 2015.

The survey also asked young Canadian voters about their main sources of information about the election, which revealed some interesting numbers.

A significant percentage identified social media as their main information source:

  • 18-22 year olds: 22 percent
  • 23-29 year olds: 19 percent
  • 30-34 year olds: 15 percent
  • 35+ years old: 7 percent

Media websites, blogs and other online sources were also a significant source of information:

  • 18-22 year olds: 18 percent
  • 23-29 year olds: 28 percent
  • 30-34 year olds: 22 percent
  • 35+ years old: 19 percent

Television was less of a notable source of information among younger voters:

  • 18-22 year olds: 16 percent
  • 23-29 year olds: 17 percent
  • 30-34 year olds: 26 percent
  • 35+ years old: 37 percent

A much, much lower percentage identified newspapers and magazines as their main source of information:

  • 18-22 year olds: 4 percent
  • 23-29 year olds: 6 percent
  • 30-34 year olds: 7 percent
  • 35+ years old: 16 percent

While there is little doubt that the mainstream media has had a decline in readership over the past decade, I suspect that newspaper websites and links to mainstream media websites would have also been included in the social networking and website categories of this survey.


Voter turnout in Alberta increased in nearly every category in the 2015 election compared to the 2011 election:

  • 18-24 voter turnout rose from 33.7 percent in 2011 to 59.5 percent in 2015.
  • 24-34 voter turnout rose from 37.8 percent in 2011 to 58.2 percent in 2015.
  • 35-44 voter turnout rose from 48.8 percent in 2011 to 61.5 percent in 2015.
  • 45-54 voter turnout rose from 59.8 percent in 2011 to 65.5 percent in 2015.
  • 65-74 voter turnout rose from 72.2 percent in 2011 to 76.5 percent in 2015.
  • 75+ voter turnout was in 66.6 percent in 2011 and 66.6 percent in 2015.

A full description of the methodology used to conduct the National Youth Voter Survey can be found on the Elections Canada website.

A closer look at the Fort McMurray-Athabasca and Macleod by-elections

Conservative candidates were elected in two federal by-elections yesterday in Alberta. This is an event which would normally not be a source for much commentary, but there are some interesting points to be made from the outcome of these two by-elections.

Fort McMurray Athabasca Federal By-Election Results 2014

Unofficial results of the 2014 federal by-election in Fort McMurray-Athabasca.

Conservatives hold, but support shrinks
In Fort McMurray-Athabasca, Conservative David Yurdiga was elected with 5,945 votes (47% of the vote), significantly lower than the landslide 21,988 votes (71.8% of the vote) earned by former MP Brian Jean in the 2011 general election. The regional breakdown of the votes could provide some interesting insight into this by-election, as Mr. Yurdiga hails from the voter-rich southern limits of this large rural riding.

In Macleod, John Barlow was elected with 12,394 votes (68%), only slightly lower than the 77% earned by MP Ted Menzies in 2011.

Liberals back in second place
The Liberals dislodged the official opposition New Democratic Party as the main challenger to the Conservatives in both ridings. Strong local campaigns as well as a boost from Liberal leader Justin Trudeau, who visited the ridings numerous times during the by-elections, likely contributed to these results.

Fort McMurray-Athabasca Liberal Kyle Harrietha placed a strong second with 35.3% of the vote (4,491 votes), up from his party’s 10% in the 2011 general election. While the Liberals were not able to pull off a win, they should not be disappointed with their level of support. Percentage wise, this is the strongest a non-conservative candidate has placed in this riding since 1980.

In Macleod, Liberal Dustin Fuller earned 17% of the vote (3,062 votes), up from his party’s distant 3.6% fourth place finish in the 2011 general election.

Macleod federal by-election results 2014

Unofficial results from the 2014 federal by-election in Macleod.

Low voter turnout
Voter turnout was abysmally low. Only 15.19% of registered voters cast a ballot in Fort McMurray-Athabasca and 19.59% voted in Macleod. Although by-elections traditionally attract low voter turnout, Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s choice to schedule the voting day between a weekend and Canada Day likely contributed to the low participation.

On Canada Day, we should reflect on how voter participation strengthens our democracy and the consequences of ignoring our country’s political and electoral process.