Thursday, October 04, 2007

On Voter Apathy .. If You're Interested

It's as worn-out a phrase as "it's a cliché", but, "every vote counts".

There have been close margins of victory in NL provincial elections, too close for comfort for the candidates in some cases. In the 2007 election, voter apathy, or perhaps, complacency in this case, could make for some close races. The current political atmosphere is one where the question is not who will win, but by how many. There is an assumption that Danny and the PCs will easily win, and for that reason there may well be a decreased sense of voting importance, for anyone inclined to vote PC anyway.

In the 2003 NL provincial election, the voter turnout was 72%. For whatever reason, 28% of eligible voters did not exercise this democratic right. If there was voter apathy then, then the spending scandal could arguably turn many more apathetic towards politicians. These people won't give any candidate their support. It could also be some people's way of protesting the behaviours of politicians.

The electorate should keep in mind that they can be part of the process and help determine who their representative will be. Otherwise, if they do not vote, and their elected MHA is someone they really are dissatisfied with, then the voter may be sorry for opting to not vote.

Though most election results are obviously decisive in margin of votes, from time to time, close incoming results on election night put candidates on a roller coaster of emotions. If anyone thinks that their vote does not matter, have a look at a few close results, especially this years by-election result.

1999 NL Provincial Election

District: St. John's Centre
Joan Marie AYLWARD (Lib) 2609
Paul BROWN (PC) 2443
Margin: 166

2003 NL Provincial Election

District: Bellevue
Percy BARRETT (Lib) 2623
Joan CLEARY (PC) 2523
Margin: 100

District: Signal-Hill Quidi Vidi
Jack HARRIS (NDP) 2456
Karen CARROLL (PC) 2221
Margin: 235
2007 NL Provincial By-election

District: Humber Valley
Dwight Ball (Lib) 2153
Daryl Kelly (PC) 2146
Margin: 7

The 2007 by-election was so close that a judicial recount was required (NL Elections Act (62.(1)) requires a judicial recount if the vote margin is not more than 10). Due to an inaccurately recorded result, for at least 20 minutes Kelly was celebrating as initial numbers showed him winning by 12 votes. The voter turnout was 62%. At the end of the night 8 more PCs would have officially made Kelly the winner - so every single vote matters.

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