Newspaper article The Canadian Press

More Albertans Voted Than 2008's Record Low, but It Wasn't a Rush to the Polls: Hyped Alberta Vote Didn't Produce High Turnout

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

More Albertans Voted Than 2008's Record Low, but It Wasn't a Rush to the Polls: Hyped Alberta Vote Didn't Produce High Turnout

Article excerpt

EDMONTON - More Albertans decided Monday's provincial election was too important to miss, reversing a trend that saw a record low turnout in the last vote.

But it wasn't exactly the rush to the polls many were expecting given predictions by pundits that the Progressive Conservative government was about to lose for the first time in 41 years.

Despite the election being billed as a real race, turnout was slightly above 50 per cent of eligible voters.

"It's a surprise. I think I was probably expecting closer to 60," said Harold Jansen, a University of Lethbridge political scientist.

Voter turnout had been dropping in successive Alberta elections, reaching a new low in 2008, when just over 40 per cent of eligible voters cast ballots.

Conventional wisdom was that the certainty of the outcome was to blame. After all, what was the point in voting if the Tories were sure to win?

But even though there appeared to be a possibility of change, Jansen said it takes time to break an ingrained pattern.

"There's been such a level of disengagement," Jansen continued. "It's been so uncompetitive for so long.

"It takes time to turn that around."

While the percentage of Albertans who voted wasn't high, the huge population increase the province has experienced over the last decade meant that the total number of voters broke a record, something Progressive Conservative Leader Alison Redford noted Monday night.

"There's no doubt that what we've seen is a record turnout, a turnout that I think speaks to the fact that Albertans want to have excellence in government," she said following her victory speech.

"What I see tonight -- and what I said in the campaign and what I said in the legislature -- was today Albertans would decide who they wanted to lead their province. And I think what will happen now is we'll take a look at how we can do that in a way that's constructive and positive and continues to build our economy, builds our future and supports families in this province. …

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