Significant drop-off in advance voting turnout for the 2019 Nanaimo-Ladysmith byelection is due to voter apathy, says a Vancouver Island University professor.
The last day of advance voting was April 29, and according to preliminary numbers from Elections Canada, 9,004 electors cast votes compared to 15,957 people that turned out for early voting in the 2015 federal election. With a provincial byelection in January, a municipal election last October and another federal election anticipated for this October, Alexander Netherton, VIU political studies professor, said the reasons for the decline aren’t “too mysterious.”
“People just aren’t as interested,” Netherton told the News Bulletin. “First of all we can’t compare this byelection to the provincial byelection, where we were kind of king or queen makers. This one is because of legal necessity to have representation and so the motives here are somewhat different and Nanaimoites, and Ladysmithians to a lesser extent, well we’re fatigued. There is voter fatigue out there, let’s face it.”
Bob Chamberlin, NDP; Jennifer Clarke, People’s Party of Canada; Michelle Corfield, Liberal Party of Canada; John Hirst, Conservative Party of Canada; Paul Manly, Green Party of Canada and Brian Marlatt, Progressive Canadian Party, are candidates on the ballot, and Netherton said the byelection “field is open to a large extent.”
“All of these contests really depend upon the game on the ground and especially when you have expectations of lower voter turnout and so forth,” said Netherton. “It really boils down to who can get the vote out. John Hirst’s team, can they do that? Can Chamberlin’s team do that and so forth? Or can Manly’s do that? That’s the end game and that’s really what it’s going to be about.”
Jakob Letkemann is listed as National Citizens Alliance of Canada representative on the ballot, but the party recently announced he was no longer its candidate.
There are currently 60,709 people on the list of electors, and Elections Canada said the preliminary numbers could be different from the official turnout results, as names could be added to the list.