Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Advance Vote Stats from the Four Federal By-elections

It is hard to know if advance voting tells us much about the likely turnout overall.   The number of people choosing to advance vote has been rising significantly over the last ten years as Elections Canada encourages people to advance vote.

ED             2013   2011        2008   2006   2004
Bourassa  2,210  4,401 50.2% 3,888  3,823  3,404
Brandon–Souris 2,422  2,754 87.9% 2,093  2,162  1,780
Provencher  2,313  3,218 71.9% 2,261  2,522  1,742
Toronto Centre 5,241  7,834 66.9% 5,321  5,220  4,977
The percentage in the third column is the ratio of by-election turn out to the 2011 general election.

So how does the compare to other by-elections?  Here are four of the by-elections since the 2011 general election. 

ED                2012   2011        2008   2006   2004
Calgary Centre   2,667  6,754 39.5% 4,551  5,134  4,656
Durham           4,890  8,404 58.2% 5,370  6,776  4,683
Toronto Danforth 4,865  6,946 70.0% 4,254  5,154  4,885
Victoria         5,749 10,092 57.0% 7,063  7,204  6,471
(I left Labrador off of this list because voter turnout in that riding is very much out of sync with most of the rest of the country)

It seems clear that the trend in the four current by-elections is for higher advance voter turn out ratios than the four by-elections in the second set.   Does this mean the voter turn out will be higher for these by-elections?   I am not sure.

There has been a trend over the last decade to actively encourage people to advance vote.   In the past you could only advance vote if you had a reason why you could not vote on general election day.   It has taken some time for people to believe they were allowed to vote in advance polls without any reasons.  Still, the preponderance to vote in advance should be no higher as a trend in 2013 than in 2012.

To go out on a limb, I do think we will see higher voter turnouts in the current by-elections than the 2012 ones.  Here is my current estimate of voter turnout:

ED         Current est change from last est
Bourassa       23,500      (+3,000)
Brandon-Souris 29,000      (+2,750)
Provencher     22,000      (+6,000)
Toronto Centre 42,000     (+10,000)

For the record, the Labrador results
ED                 2013  2011        2008  2006  2005  2004
Labrador          1,560   990 157.6%  401   483   589   660
The voter turnout in Labrador has been higher in by-elections than General Elections - this is the only riding in Canada where this has happened in the last generation
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