Press Release - Turnout is up, but what about the youth vote? - Federal Election 2011

by Apathy is Boring — May 5, 2011

Apathy is Boring


Montreal, Quebec
May 3rd, 2011

Turnout is up, but what about the youth vote?

Voter turnout was slightly up for the 2011 federal election, but many young Canadians have yet to be engaged in the electoral process. Having reached a record number of youth with its 2011 election campaign, Apathy is Boring knows that there is still much to be done, and will continue working hard to engage young Canadians in the democratic process.

According to preliminary results, overall voter turnout for the 2011 federal election was 61.4% - an increase from 2008’s historic low. Despite this positive result, a majority of young Canadians did not make it to the polls on election day.* Elections Canada will release detailed age-segmented turnout data later this year, but the preliminary numbers suggest that the long-term trend of low youth turnout has been halted, but not reversed.

“We are obviously thrilled to see that voter turnout is up, but the increase is modest and there’s a long way to go. Youth turnout has been below 50% since the 1990s, and steadily declining. As long as overall turnout is below 70%, that is a sign most young voters are staying home. This is a long-term trend that cannot be reversed during the five weeks of an election campaign. That is why Apathy is Boring will continue working 365 days a year to reach Canada’s unengaged youth and engage them in our democracy.”

Ilona Dougherty, Executive Director, Apathy is Boring

Since 2004, Apathy is Boring has been working to educate youth about the democratic process. During the 2011 federal election, Apathy is Boring reached hundreds of thousands of Canadian youth through the 'I WILL VOTE' Facebook campaign, which provided them with the information they needed and encouraged them to vote. Apathy is Boring will build on this success with new research and mobilization programs during provincial and municipal elections this fall.

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For more information contact: Émile Thomas, Communications and Events Coordinator, 514-844-2472.

*We estimate that most young Canadians did not vote by comparing overall turnout from 2011 with past elections, for which youth turnout data is available. The last time that a majority (52%) of first-time eligible voters cast ballots was in the 1993 federal election, when overall turnout was 69.6%.

Please note that Elections Canada’s preliminary numbers may overestimate turnout, as they include voters who registered on election day in the numerator (number of ballots cast) but not the denominator (number of registered voters).

Sources for Statistics Quoted

Elections Canada. 2011 General Election: Preliminary Results - National.

Elections Canada. Estimation of Voter Turnout by Age Group at the 38th Federal General Election. Elections Canada Final Report, 2005.

Blais and Loewen. Youth Electoral Engagement in Canada. Elections Canada Working Paper, 2009.


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