Thursday, October 11, 2007

What low voter turnout means....

Well, voter turnout was DISGUSTINGLY low yesterday in the Ontario Election/Referendum. I'm ashamed for the province, and I wish I thought that the 3,973,806 voters in Ontario who couldn't be bothered to vote on any of the 14 days they could have taken 5 minutes to do it were ashamed of themseleves, but who are we kidding? Anyway, it's sickening, and I was thinking about what that means.

Well, first, it means that the Ontario Liberal party will be in charge for the next four years with 66% of the seats in the Legislature. Now, what percentage of eligible Ontario voters voted for the Liberals to give them this great power? 22%.

That's right, the Liberals got 22% of eligible voters to cast a vote for them yesterday and they'll now be able to do pretty much what they like for the next 4 years.

There are 8,308,702 eligible voters in Ontario. Dalton Mcguinty needed the support of less than 2 million of them to win a comfortable 4 year "majority" government (1,859,710 votes at last count).

Sadly, the Referendum on electoral reform was also "SOUNDLY" defeated yesterday. A whopping 31% of eligible voters chose to keep our current electoral system, so we're keeping our current electoral system (and hey, what could be wrong with that? I know 1,859,710 eligible voters who today probably think our current system works just fine, thank you very much!!!).

I thought things were pretty broken on October 10th. Now that it's October 11th, I question whether they can ever be fixed.

Sadly, I'm even starting to ask "why bother trying?".

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Anonymous said...

The flipside of that is that only, what, 15% of eligible voters voted in favour of reform (forgive me if I'm off, I didn't actually crunch the numbers)? Moreover, FPTP acheived the double-super majority that would have been required for reform. Yes, there was an unfortunate low voter turnout, but I would say that it was a pretty sound defeat. I'm disappointed that MMP didn't have a better showing because I'm not sure the numbers make a strong statement that reform is wanted.

I'm sure the issue isn't dead and I only hope that when reform is back on the table, the MMP proposal is reexamined and 'fixed' (whether it be tweaks like changing the threshold or riding/list seat distribution or an entirely different system like STV) instead of the exact same proposal being thrown at us in 10 years time (or whenever).

Steve V said...

" A whopping 31% of eligible voters chose to keep our current electoral system,"...and a woeful 18% voted for MMP. I don't think it serves any point to plug in the non-voter to make a point, because it cuts both ways.

Let's say we had MMP in this election. From what other have pointed out, MMP doesn't translate to increased turnout necessarily. You could still do what you've done above, couldn't you?.

Lord Kitchener's Own said...

Well, it's very true that only around 15% of eligible voters voted for MMP. No argument there, it was a sound defeat.

The point I meant to focus on rebutting here is voices like the Toronto Star, who seem to think everything's just peachy. That our electoral system isn't broken, and doesn't need fixing.

Well, I'm sorry, but any system in which 22% of eligible voters is enough support for a political party to gain a comfortable majority is BROKEN. Would MMP have increased voter turnout? I agree that that is debatable (I think it would, but I could be wrong). What is certain is that MMP wouldn't have given the Liberals a majority of the power based upon the support of 22% of the electorate. That a party can get 66% of the power in the legislature by attracting the support of less than 1 in 4 eligible voters is a joke.

And to me, it's not funny anymore.

Steve V said...

I think we should just leave the non-voter out of the equation, because you can skew any results. For example, even if we had MMP, you could have a majority vote in terms of seats, but then argue that it wasn't a majority of eligible voters. Your argument about our current system is valid, without including the non-voter. If people can't be bothered to participate, we shouldn't speak as though they aren't represented, nor can you assume that none of them would have voted for the party you use the figures for.

Lord Kitchener's Own said...

I see your point Steve, but MMP WOULD have mitigated the skewing of the percentage of ELIGIBLE voters too.

To get 66% of the power with only 22% of the eligible voters under MMP, it would require voter turnout to PLUMMET to 33.3%.

Put another way, if voter turnout under MMP were 52%, as it was last night, a party could only get 66% of the power (as the Liberals did) with 34% of the eligible voters. Not 22%. With the same voter turnout as last night, the Liberals would have needed over 1 million more votes to get 66% of the power under MMP, or they would have needed more than 1.5 million more Ontarians to have stayed at home.

Under MMP, the support of 22% of eligible voters, in an election where 52% of eligible voters vote, gets the Liberals 42% of the power, not 66%. Now, getting 42% of the power while only convincing 22% of eligible voters to support you is certainly skewed as well. MMP ain't perfect. However, I think it's clear that it's not NEARLY as insane as getting 66% of the power while only convincing 22% of eligible voters to support you.

So, you're totally correct that low voter turnout can make MMP results look quite skewed if you count all ELIGIBLE voters, instead of just those who voted. But even at 52% turnout, the Liberals don't get a majority on the backs of 22% of eligible voters under MMP.

Also, under FPTP while there were less than 500,000 votes between the Liberals and the Tories the Liberals will get 45 more seats in the Legislature. A 500,000 vote difference translates into a 45 seat differential. Meanwhile, the Green party gets the votes of 353,730 Ontarians, and they collectively elect NO ONE.

There's now one Liberal MPP for every 25,281 Liberal votes cast in Ontario. Meanwhile, there are 0 Green MPPs for every 353,730 Green votes cast.

It's totally insane.

Steve V said...


I left his comment on the other thread, thought I'd cross post it:


You make a strong case with the vote number breakdowns. Introducing the eligible is a double edged sword, which really doesn’t further the point you made. It makes it look more outlandish, but it also says things like only 4% of Ontarians voted Green, only 18% want MMP, it distorts. If we went to true PR, then nobody would have 48% of the seats, based on eligible voters. 48% didn’t choose the Liberals, Cons, NDP, Greens, they choose nobody, they didn’t vote. To best reflect the eligible voter pool, then those seats should be left vacated. I guess I just don’t like the math, especially when you proved your point quite convincingly with actual voters."