Lack of candidate engagement cited for poor Burlington voter turnout during local elections

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Published June 26, 2023 at 4:38 pm

A lack of candidate debates and little information provided by those who ran could account for the low turnout of Burlington voters during the last municipal election.

Those are just some of the reasons provided by Burlington residents to explain the less than 28 per cent turnout at the polls.

Post-election data available from the City’s Office of the Clerk shows there was just a 27.6 per cent turnout for the October 2022 municipal election, a number that reflects both online voters and those who cast their ballots in person.

The voter turnout was lower than expected, but not unusual for Burlington, according to election data.

“Some possible factors may include voter fatigue, voter apathy, the ongoing pandemic, not enough information about candidates, lack of engagement outside of the election period and away from the ballot box,” according to the Office of Burlington’s City Clerk.

But surveys conducted by the clerk’s office reveal the candidates themselves may be to blame.

Some respondents “found it frustrating” that not all candidates provided thorough information or contact details on websites. As well, others cited a general lack of engagement by candidates and the absence of local debates as reasons behind the apathy.

All-candidate debates have historically been run by ratepayer groups or other community organizations and do not fall under the responsibilities of local government.

Meanwhile, 14,980 electors cast their ballots online during the 10 days of internet voting, from October 11 to October 20, with over 1,000 more voters choosing this method compared to 2018.

In total, 39,217 ballots were cast during the election out of 142,218 eligible voters. Of those, 20,219 voted on election day, 4,018 voted in person at advance polls with the rest coming through online.

During the recent Halton District School Board by-election held for Ward 1&2 in May, voter turnout was 6.07 per cent with 2,193 electors casting their ballot out of 36,119 eligible.

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