Voter turnout for Canada's 2019 federal election was, well, meh

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      Advance-voter turnout ahead of Canada’s 2019 federal election hit a record-high of 29 percent, according to Elections Canada.

      And so there was a lot of anticipation around how many Canadians would show up at the polls on the actual day of the vote (October 21).

      Would a Conservative groundswell emerge in opposition to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s environmental policies that many Albertans claim have stymied further development of the oil sands? Would the NDP rally large numbers of left-wing voters who are disappointed with the Liberals’ purchase of the Trans Mountain pipeline and a lack of progress on reconciliation with Indigenous peoples? Would voters from across the political spectrum crowd polling stations in a show of moral disgust with Trudeau’s handling of the SNC-Lavalin affair and the discovery of several old photographs of the prime minister wearing blackface?

      No, it turns out. The answer to all three questions is no.

      Voter turnout for Canada’s 43rd federal election was an anticlimactic 66 percent, according to a preliminary count by Elections Canada with 98 percent of polls reporting.

      That compares with 68.3 percent in 2015, 61.1 percent in 2011, 58.8 percent in 2008, 64.7 percent in 2006, and 60.9 percent in 2004. So 66 percent isn't bad by contemporary standards, but it's not great, either.

      So why was advance-voter turnout so high? The answer likely has nothing to do with politics.

      In 2019, advance-polling stations remained open later than in previous years, there were more of them, and early voting happened to fall over the Thanksgiving long weekend.

      Travis Lupick / Elections Canada


      The country achieved its all-time best score for voter turnout in 1958, when 79.4 percent of eligible voters made it to the polls.

      Our worst year on record was 2008, when just 58.8 percent of voters managed to get off the couch.

      The average voter turnout going all the way back to 1874 is 70.5 percent.

      The 2019 election concluded with Trudeau holding on to power but losing the majority his Liberal party captured in 2015.