Voter turnout in federal election about average despite pandemic challenges

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OTTAWA – 62 percent of eligible voters voted in last week’s federal election – about the average turnout for recent Canadian elections despite the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic.

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Elections Canada says that out of 27.4 million eligible voters, approximately 17 million Canadians voted. The agency says it does not include voters who had registered on election day, so the final number may improve slightly.

Turnout was down from 67 percent in 2019 and 68.3 percent in 2015, but it was better than four of the last seven federal elections held in Canada since the turn of the century.

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The pandemic has led to fewer polling places, fewer polling personnel and, in some places, long lineups to vote last Monday.

This resulted in a record number of Canadians – about 850,000 – voting by mail.

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Election officials have completed the counting of postal ballots on Saturday.

Elections Canada is expected to end on Monday to validate results in all ridings, after which candidates in close contests will have four days to request a judicial recount.

The Liberals gave notice late Monday that they are seeking a judicial recount in the riding of Chateaugue-Lacole in Quebec, where Patrick O’Hara of the Bloc Québecois defeated Liberal incumbent Brenda Shanahan by only 286 votes.

Justin Trudeau’s Liberals emerged from the election with a second minority government, winning 159 seats, a gain of two from his 2019 result.

However, the winner in one of them – Kevin Wong in Toronto’s Spadina-Fort York – would sit as an independent after failing to disclose to the party a previous sexual assault allegation, which was later dropped.

Erin O’Toole’s Conservatives ended 2019 with 119 seats, down two. The Bloc Québécois finished with 33 seats (one up), the NDP with 25 (one up), and the Greens with two (one down).

The Conservatives won a little more than the popular vote did in 2019 – 33.7 percent from the Liberals’ 32.6 percent. But because his vote was heavily concentrated in Alberta and Saskatchewan, he won fewer seats.

The vote share of the NDP increased by almost two points to 17.8 per cent as compared to 2019. The block’s stake in Quebec has come down slightly to 32.1 per cent.

The Greens received only 2.3 percent of the vote, less than half their share in 2019 and trailing Canada’s extremist Fringe People’s Party, which garnered five percent of the vote, though it won no seats.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published on September 27, 2021.

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