While the last Canadian election in 2015 saw the highest turnout since 1993 at 68.5 per cent, the one before it in 2011 saw the third lowest in history at only 61.4 per cent. – The Canadian Press file photo
When a caller recently ranted to me about the sad state of government today, I asked him if he voted in the last election. His answer was predictable: “I didn’t have time.”
Is it possible people are forgoing the old-fashioned ballot box because they have so many modern soapboxes?
After all, social media platforms provide an outlet few other than journalists had in the past.
Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, Reddit and endless others are alive with political debate — or something more sinister.
Meanwhile, people still call newspaper editors about bias, and write letters about events or coverage. The radio waves continue to resound with the voices of outraged citizenry.
But voter turnout records indicate something different. While the last Canadian election in 2015 saw the highest turnout since 1993 at 68.5 per cent, the one before it in 2011 saw the third lowest in history at only 61.4 per cent. Generally speaking, turnout during federal elections is on a downward slide.
In the late 1950s and early 1960s, turnout was almost 80 per cent. Impressive, and of course those were the days before social media, Russian bots, sophisticated advertising campaigns and even, to some extent, television.
In the last Ontario election, turnout was 58 per cent, a high compared to 2011 which was only 48, but nothing compared to the peak in 1977 at 66 per cent.
In Hamilton and Burlington during the last municipal election, just under 40 per cent of eligible voters cast a ballot. Not bad, considering in 2014 that figure was about 34 per cent in both Burlington and Hamilton, but not good either. Overall, Hamilton voter turnout has steadily eroded since the city was amalgamated.
Information (if you can call it that) from political parties during an election has always been suspect, but truth seems increasingly elusive today. Politicians have always been given to hyperbole, lied or bent the truth or stretched the facts, but it all seems worse today.
Then again, modern media agencies, especially mainstream media, do a better job of fact-checking political pronouncements. That, too, may be why we are criticized by politicians who don’t like hogwash being thrown back in their faces.
So maybe things are improving. On Monday, please do your part to ensure that they are — and vote.