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Somewhere, Stephen Harper is smiling at this.

Statistics Canada released a survey today on the reasons given by those Canadians as to why they did not vote in the May 2 federal election:

..The most common response for not having voted was that they were “not interested in voting” (28%), which also includes feeling their vote would not have made a difference in the election results. An additional 23% indicated they were “too busy”, which includes having family obligations or having a schedule conflict at work or school.

With regards to the 23% who were “too busy” to vote, they either didn’t see the notices from Elections Canada on where one could do advance voting, or else they’re using the “too busy” as an excuse and should really be lumped into the first category of not being interested (the more likely scenario, in my opinion). I’m not sure I can criticize Elections Canada for lack of advance polling advertising, because those were everywhere.

Regardless, Stephen Harper loves to see things like this – particularly the disillusioned voters who didn’t feel their vote would make any difference (which wasn’t just the youth vote, by the way. It seems to be spread across age demographics). His goal is to motivate his own ideological supporters to come to the polls to vote.. which is why I suspect he doesn’t care if Parliament is turned into a screeching madhouse, or if people are turned off by his attack/smear ads on other politicians. The goal is to depress turnout of the less ideological and to win a plurality of the rest of the voters with a united Right and a divided Center-Left. It appears last election, that aim succeeded.

The question will be what the rest of the parties do to try and decrease those “not interested/it won’t make a difference” potential voters and get them motivated to vote for their parties.

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7 comments to Somewhere, Stephen Harper is smiling at this.

  • JJ

    Maybe when people have something to vote *for*, instead of the usual platform of “That guy’s a Horrible Hideous Monster, STOP him!”, they will be more compelled to vote.

    As for the borderline-fascist “compulsory voting” concept so happily endorsed by some, there’s no better way to ensure that I NEVER vote again.

  • Roll Tide

    GOTV…….get out your vote. Its politics 101.

    GWB beat Kerry by GOTV, find your demographic and get them to vote.

    Quit whining about what Harper MAY think when Liberals do not get their vote out.

    Its no wonder the Liberals are becoming irrelevant.

  • billg

    Mandatory voting? I’m assuming you wouldnt stop there because, well, you very rarely do. Why on earth does anyone want an uninterested couldnt give a crap person to vote? I would guess that a great majority of people that dont vote really dont see a difference in the partys, and, are so numb to politicians lying they just dont care anymore. Canadian politics is boring, unless your a rabid partisan its really hard to tell the difference between a Liberal and Tory. We live in one of the best Countrys in the world, and, its mainly because of the vision of Liberal and Conservative politicians who, for the most part govern from the middle. We have a successful political foundation that works for us and works very well, so, why screw with it? Mandatory voting and PR are normally fringe party platforms, if the LPC supports this then it really is waving a white flag.

  • Tom

    Surely Ignatief’s goal should have been ‘to motivate his own supporters to come to the polls to vote’, that’s what elections are all about. It just seems that Harper was more successful than Ignatief. I know that some people didn’t vote this time around because they didn’t want Iggy as PM even thought they are Liberals.
    Anyway, you can’t denounce Harper because his people were able to get the voters out.

  • Michel: And yet, percentage of non-voters varies greatly from country to country and over time. Presumably that isn’t because humans are different species in these different situations. It seems that political culture and/or the apparent prospect of useful action by government, among other things, can have a big impact on how connected people feel to politics.
    To put it crassly, in some countries soccer is the major sport and baseball or hockey are no way to draw a crowd, here hockey is huge and soccer, especially actual local Canadian soccer, is nowhere. The question: How do you arrange for politics to be a big sport? It must be do-able. Good lord, in the US masses of people follow baseball of all things, which is kind of fun to play but incredibly boring to watch, and huge numbers of them memorize masses of amazingly mind-numbing statistics about it. If you can get them to do that, surely you can get them to follow politics.

  • Turns out that disinterested voters who are forced to vote will likely choose the most attractive candidate. I can back that up with a link but take my word for it.

    How can I put this without sounding crass? Most people aren’t political junkies so what they want is something to capture their attention. If you can weave a great narrative about your party, the election and what’s at stake, you’ll probably get some new voters. Appealing to people’s emotions through a powerful narrative that ties-in with peoples lives is how you get people interested.

    That being said, some people just won’t be interested in politics the same way as they won’t be interested in finding out more about insurance.

  • ck

    It’s laziness, pure and simple.

    You forgot to mention special ballot voting if even the early polling was inconvenient for many. Also, Elections Canada did have instructions and a way for those who were out of the country to vote, as well.

    Heck, Elections Canada employees were visiting hospitals, prisons and nursing homes and other such places where folks cannot get out to the polling station, can get to cast a ballot.

    There were options.

    I also didn’t get the religious angle. Against their religion to vote? What denomination exactly? If we’re referring to the fact that early polls took place on Passover, as Harper whined about? I can tell you that many in the Chassidic community did come out at advanced polling to vote, at least in Outremont, anyway.

    Ignorance. I read some of the comments over at the article about this at the Globe and Mail and some of the comments would be downright hilarious if they weren’t so sadly ignorant and those finding the flimsiest of excuses not to vote.

    I don’t like Bob Rae’s suggestion of introducing online voting neither. No way of really authenticating each and every vote. Plus, like with anything electronic, things can always go down, heck the system can crash and votes can be either poorly recorded or lost forever. Besides, that just encourages laziness, which my father always said was a terrible character flaw–right up there with stealing and lying; sloth he called it. He’s right. Why would we encourage it?

    Besides, many candidates had volunteers offering rides for constituents to the polling station. This time, many advertised the service on Twitter; all one had to do was call the riding office if they needed a ride.

    No, the Aussies have exactly the right idea. Make voting mandatory. Although, we’ll never see that under Harper for obvious reasons.

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