By Medicine Hat News Opinon on April 13, 2019.
There is every indication that voter turnout in this provincial election could be significant and maybe even break a record.
In larger cities, in particular, Albertans have protested in large numbers about the economy, lack of jobs and lack of any momentum for recovery of the oil and gas industry.
If that anger is representative of the population at large it could send people, who are inclined to be tardy about voting, to the polls.
The all-time voter turnout record was 82 per cent in 1935 when Social Credit was swept into power, pushing aside the United Farmers of Alberta, who had been in power for 14 years.
The last provincial election in 2015, when many Albertans were unhappy about the sense of entitlement exhibited by the Progressive Conservative government that had been in power for so long – about 40 years – with many believing nothing would unseat them, voter turnout was 57 per cent.
In 1979 a total of 58 per cent voted. That year the Progressive Conservatives under Peter Lougheed’s leadership were elected for a third term.
One of the worst voter turnouts was in 2008 with only 41 per cent voting. They elected the Progressive Conservatives under the leadership of Ed Stelmach, who had replaced Ralph Klein.
Advance polls have recently become more and more popular. Once used only if you were not available at all on election day, it has now become a convenience for people who do not want the pressure of having to make it to the polls on election day. By Thursday night more than 403,000 Albertans had already cast their election ballot in advance polls with two more days to go for that option, almost doubling the previous record for advance polls. The previous record was in 2015 when 235,000 cast ballots at advance polls.
Angus Reid was reporting on Friday that the gap between support for the NDP and the UCP was narrowing. Its interpretation was that the UCP attracted older voters and predominantly men while the NDP was gaining voters from the younger generation.
A lot can happen in the last few days before voting day. In 2012 the Wildrose looked really strong until media coverage turned and the Progressive Conservatives pulled ahead.
On the other hand in 2015 it became increasingly clear in the last week of the campaign that the NDP had gained momentum and had a good chance of winning.
It is particularly disappointing to hear many voters say they are not casting a ballot “for” a candidate or party but rather “against” the current candidate or party. It is a sad reflection of our democracy that many people are disenfranchised by politicians and political parties.
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