Northern voter turnout drops, stays near historical average

Voter turnout dropped back to earth in the recent federal election, regressing to historical norms in northern Manitoba after high numbers of ballots cast four years ago.

Elections Canada estimates about 45.6 per cent of total eligible voters cast ballots in the federal riding of Churchill-Keewatinook Aski, which covers Flin Flon and the rest of northern Manitoba. Out of 48,949 registered voters in the region, 22,311 cast ballots.

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Elections Canada estimates around 87,000 people live in the riding, just over 56 per cent of whom were registered to vote this year. If the numbers prove correct, barely one quarter of all residents in northern Manitoba actually voted.

In total, 11,133 votes went to the winner, NDP candidate Niki Ashton. Ashton came just short of receiving a majority of votes cast. Liberal candidate Judy Klassen finished second with 5,125 votes, while Conservative Cyara Bird received 4,648 votes. Ralph McLean of the Green Party received five per cent of the ballots cast, while People’s Party candidate Ken Klyne only received 296 votes through the entire riding.

At press time, four of the riding’s 155 polls had not yet reported results.

Over the previous seven federal elections, voter turnout in Churchill-Keewatinook Aski has been all over the map. In the 2015 election, almost 62 per cent of eligible voters cast ballots in the riding, the highest number since at least the 1990s. Usually, voter turnout in the riding is in the range of 42 and 52 per cent.

While the 2019 voting numbers are much lower than in 2015, they are higher than the percentage of voters who turned out in 2008 and 2011, 40.2 and 43.4 per cent, respectively.

Voter turnout across the provincial border was higher than average but also down from 2015, with 56.4 per cent of eligible voters – 25,924 people, to be exact – casting ballots. In a region with a population of 70,891 people and 45,977 eligible voters, well over one third of all residents cast a vote.

In 2015, 68.4 per cent of registered voters made their mark in the riding’s voting booths, 12 per cent more than the number from last week. However, the voter results from this year’s vote are higher than both 2008 and 2011, where 44.8 and 50.4 per cent of eligible people voted.

In northern Saskatchewan, Gary Vidal got the win in Desnethé-Missinippi-Churchill River with 10,816 votes, just under 42 per cent of the total vote. Incumbent Georgina Jolibois of the NDP finished second with 7,504 votes, while Tammy Cook-Searson snagged 6,899 for the Liberals. Green candidate Sarah Kraynick received exactly 500 votes, while Jerome Perrault and the People’s Party got 205 votes – less than one per cent of total ballots cast.

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