Voting constitutes the backbone of Democracy
Voter Turnouts in Canada: Restoring a Civic Duty
Grant Macewan University
December 6th 2011
Political Science 101
In a democratic system it is vital that citizens engage in their civic duty of voting; only then can a proper governing body be chosen to represent the will of the majority. Abraham Lincoln got to the core of democracy when he stated, “the government of the people, by the people and for the people.” In the last 50 years of Canadian history we have begun to see a decline in voter turnout; ranging from 80% of citizens voting in 1962, gradually dwindling to 59.1% in the year 2008 (Dickerson, Flanagan & O'Neill, ...view middle of the document...
The engagement of citizens in the voting process aged 18-37 has been lingering under 50%, while those aged 38-68 plus years have voting representation of over 50% (Blais, 2008). Although there is without a doubt a decline in the voting habits of the younger generation, we have no clear reason for this trend; we only know for certain that less and less young voters are exercising this civic duty. There are many theories regarding why the voter turnout is in decline. One is political alienation; feeling estranged from, or cynical towards the political process. This is driven by the belief that individual voters don’t make much of a difference to the political outcome. This belief is dangerous to a democracy, for its foundation is based upon the will of the people, which cannot be achieved to its fullest capacity if many voters believe their individual representation to be inadequate (Dickerson, Flanagan & O'Neill, 2010). Many believe that the newer generations aren’t taught a correct sense of civic duty, unlike those generations born in times of war when patriotism and serving your governing country were of utmost importance.
There are a wide variety of factors that influence the voting behaviour of Canadians. Socio-demographic characteristics of voting, which include region, religion, ethnicity, gender, and community type (rural and urban) are commonly used by many voters in making an electoral decision (Dickerson, Flanagan & O'Neill, 2010). The belief is that the more commonalities shared between a voter and a member of parliament equates to a voter being better represented by their choice of leader (Cutler, 2002). Contrary to this belief, many agree that relying on socio-demographic cues in choosing a constituent displays a lack of knowledge, and is used as a last resort for the ill-informed (Berelson, Bernard, Lazarsfeld & Mcphee, 1954). Partisanship and party loyalties play a significant role in the electoral process; this is especially prevalent along the East coast where the dwindling Liberal party clings to its last standing majorities in Newfoundland, Prince Edward Island, and Nova Scotia (Heard, 2011). One of the greatest factors in deciding which Member of Parliament many voters will trust with representing them is the level of confidence they have in the political leader. Confidence is the greatest of all voter assets for it requires knowledge of the leader’s platform, and the platform of the opposition.
Political scientists have made tremendous efforts in discovering what factors influence the voting turnouts. Irrefutably within any country, older citizens and those with higher education and income are more likely to participate in elections; this possibly explains the partisanship, a method of the “ill-informed,” displayed along the east coast, for the educational requirements attributed to these provinces are less than the Canadian national average (Garnier , 2006). When an election has closely...