Just after the May 2011 federal election, Council of Canadians chairperson Maude Barlow stated, “Now Stephen Harper and his Conservatives have a so-called majority. I say so-called because if we add the number of people who did not vote for him and combine it with the number who did not vote at all, he has the support of less that one quarter of Canadians.”
Given the voter turnout in that election was just 61.1 per cent, the third lowest in Canadian history, Barlow was highlighting that with just 39.6 per cent of the popular vote, the Conservatives had won their majority with under 25 per cent of eligible voters actually voting for them.
The Conservatives were also able to form a majority government because they won 14 ridings in races where their margin of victory was less than 800 votes. In other words, rather than having won 166 seats, the Conservatives would have won 152 seats, three seats shy of the 155 needed to form a majority government in the 308 seat House of Commons.
So there can be no doubt that, voter turnout is vitally important and that, relatively speaking, a small number of individual votes can make a real difference.
And we believe it’s time for a change.
In the last election, more than 9.4 million eligible voters didn’t cast a ballot. The Council of Canadians wants to address this in a big way in the election expected on October 19. To help accomplish that, we are asking that you take a Voter Pledge. That pledge asks you to do two things: 1) Vote in the 2015 federal election; 2) Challenge two more eligible voters to join you in taking the pledge.
To take the pledge, and to share it with others, please click here.
We will also be pursuing additional strategies to encourage young people to vote in this upcoming election. Elections Canada has estimated that 38.8 per cent of eligible voters between the ages of 18 to 24 voted in May 2011, that’s almost half the 75.1 per cent rate for voters ages 65-74. We’ll have an exciting announcement on this very soon, so please watch for that news!
For more on our democracy and election campaign, click here.