Voter turnout ‘disturbing’ in Winnipeg after hitting 8-year low

Candidates in Winnipeg’s election were fighting over a shrinking number of votes, with voter turnout the lowest in eight years according to figures from the city.

According to the City of Winnipeg, 195,530 votes were cast in the 2022 municipal election – representing just 37.5 per cent of voters.

Travis Corner was among the thousands of Winnipeggers who decided not to cast a vote.

“All I heard about the election and the people running were sound bites from YouTube ads and random text messages,” he said. “I had no idea what was going on and I couldn’t find a way to find information.”

This year’s voter turnout is a drop compared to the 42 per cent who came out to vote in 2018, and an even steeper decline from the 50 per cent who cast their ballots in 2014.

“Many of our elections going backwards were in that 40 to 50 per cent range. So certainly we were a little bit disappointed with the turnout at 37.5 (per cent),” said Marc Lemoine, a senior election official with the City of Winnipeg.

The city said its strategy to get out the vote was similar to that of 2014 and 2018. While a record number of people turned out for advance voting, officials say an anticipated surge of voting on election day never materialized.

“Being in the mid 30s is a very disturbing outcome,” said Christopher Adams, an adjunct professor of political studies at the University of Manitoba.

Adams believes there are a number of factors that could be influencing the declining voting numbers. He said some voters may not be as aware of local issues as they were in the past.

While he is still awaiting a further breakdown of the numbers, Adams said he suspects some areas of the city voted in higher numbers than others, and this too may have had an influence on the outcome.

He suspects some Glen Murray voters may have assumed he didn’t need their vote.

“I think some people felt more liberated to vote who they preferred and felt liberated not to vote at all because they thought Glen Murray would win this election,” Adams said.

He added, when people feel their vote is effective and are interested in a competitive race, they will come out to vote.

Corner, who didn’t cast a ballot, said he will accept whatever direction Scott Gillingham decides to take the city in.

“If you’re not actively working on something, you can’t complain about it, right?” 

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