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High turnout at advanced polls could mean election is more decided than you think: political scientist

Last Updated Oct 16, 2019 at 10:26 am PST

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Summary

Some 4.7 million people have already cast their vote in the federal election

The increase in advanced votes this year represents an estimated 29 per cent jump in advance voting over 2015

The rise in early voting is especially pronounced on campuses, professor Howard Ramos explains

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – Some 4.7 million people have already cast their vote in the federal election, representing an estimated 29 per cent jump in advance voting over 2015.

In 2015, more than 20 per cent of the votes were cast prior to election day. With that number primed to be even higher this time, professor Howard Ramos with Dalhousie University suggests the remainder of the campaign may not matter that much.

“A high early vote might mean that the election is more decided than people realize,” Ramos explains. “So, in this last week, there’s a lot of analogies about horse race and how tight it is. This early vote might mean that a lot of the campaigning that goes on now isn’t going to make a difference for a good chunk of the population who have already voted.”

However, he adds it would be a mistake for those who haven’t voted already to stay home on Oct. 21, especially with the polls pointing to an extremely close result.

It also means leaders have to “stay the course,” Ramos says, and act as if people haven’t cast their ballot yet — after all, it’s something out of their control.

“If they imagine that it didn’t happen, it isn’t going to be a good thing, but being able to recognize that it’s happened and also recognize that for a good chunk of the population, the vote’s in.”

When it comes down to it, though, Ramos admits it’s hard to tell what the high number of votes cast in advanced polls truly means.

“People appreciate the convenience of having more options in voting and not just voting on one day. Whether that translates to overall increase in voting rate is hard to tell,” he tells NEWS 1130.

He believes giving people more options to vote is a “good step for Canada to take to increase our democracy.”

The rise in early voting is especially pronounced on campuses, which Ramos says challenges the notion that young people aren’t political.

“It shows that, at least, offering more convenience for young people to vote seems to make a difference. If this translates to an overall higher voting share for Generation Z and millennials, this could have an interesting impact on the outcome of the election.”

-With files from Sonia Aslam