Election produced highest turnout in 22 years

Online campaigning for votes may have been the determining factor in the quest for a better turnout

178 votes were cast at the on-campus polling station. (Jim Elliot/The Omega)

178 votes were cast at the on-campus polling station. (Jim Elliot/The Omega)

Voter turnout for Canada’s 42nd General Election was higher than any other federal election in the past 22 years. Nationally, 68.5 per cent of eligible voters cast a ballot, the highest turnout since 1993. Turnout was up from 61.1 per cent in 2011 and the all-time low of 58.8 per cent in 2008.

Campaigns attempting to entice voters may have been a contributing factor for the increased turnout. One campaign, administered by the Council of Canadians, was aimed at young voters by employing a humorous video that posed the question “how far would you go to vote?” The website also provided a youth voter guide with summaries of each party’s stance on youth issues and information about how to vote.

Votenation.ca, a website created by Rick Mercer, allowed users to superimpose the words “I will vote Oct. 19” over their Facebook profile pictures. According to Mercer on Twitter, as of Oct. 15, 125,000 Canadians had created a profile picture using the service.

“I am actually pretty stoked about the voter turnout. I think all the pro-voting stuff on social media really helped get people to the polls,” said TRU student Scott Turner.

The most radical and divisive campaign attempting to increase voter turnout was the “Sluts Against Harper” Instagram page. The page offered nude photos in exchange for proof of voting. The page claimed to be receiving 50 messages per minute on election day.

Voter turnout in the Kamloops–Thompson–Cariboo riding was even higher than the national average, with 74 per cent of eligible voters in the riding casting a ballot.

Elections Canada also brought a polling station to campus this year, though it differed from on campus polling stations elsewhere, in that not every student on campus could use it – only those who lived on campus grounds.

In total, 178 votes were cast at the campus polling station, with 117 of those voters registering on Election Day.

While Elections Canada did not provide a figure for the number of eligible voters on campus, the total number of people living on campus grounds is 874.