Elections spending up, voter turnout down

Agency to spend $138 million this year


In the last decade, spending at Elections Canada has more than quadrupled—from $32 million in 1998-1999 to an expected $138.6 million this year. At $30.9 million, the portion of that total sum that goes toward programs—such as enforcing party financing rules, public education and redrawing electoral boundaries—is ten times what is was in the 1990s ($2.6 million in ’98-’99). Ironically, as the Ottawa Citizen points out, the agency’s spending has grown despite lagging voter turnout.

Ottawa Citizen

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Elections spending up, voter turnout down

  1. We can see an easy $100 million dollars that could be returned to taxpayers. No money should be spent on campaigns to convince people to vote, that's a waste of resources and encourages people who know nothing to cast votes for charlatans like the NDP for example.

    • Voting is a right, a privilege and a duty for every eligible person. If people are uninformed about the issues, then it is an opportunity to get informed. Disparaging your fellow Canadians because their political beliefs are not in line with your own, is anti-democratic, Philanthropist.

      • Disparaging NDP voters is a democratic right, not a privelege, or a duty, but a right. While eligible people should get informed and vote like rational adults, too often they don't do anything of the sort and either not vote at all, or vote for the NDP or corrupt Liberals – two groups that no one would actually trust to with their personal finances, even if they think it's okay for the country to be run by socialist incompetents.

        • I agree. In fact, I think the NDP and the Liberals should be de-listed. Stupid people won't be able to vote for stupid parties if stupid parties are outlawed. If the only choice for rational adults is the Conservative Party, we might as well turn the keys over to those guys. Why have an election if we all know the only party qualified to run the country is the Conservative Party?

          • Nope. Best we can hope for is that more rational adults get out and vote, you can't outlaw stupid, which is a good thing or there wouldn't be any hilarious posts on these boards. Keep it up kids!

          • Yeah, but you've said that the only party for rational adults is the Conservative Party (thereby insulting anyone who happens to vote, God forbid, for another party). If you believe that, then why do we bother having elections? If the Conservatives are the only rational party, and the only logical choice for rational people, then elections become counterproductive.

            I don't believe in the 'Harper is a dictator' claptrap. But, I'm sure if even the day came when Harper said, "Y'know, for the sake of the country, I'd better run things for a while, let's suspend elections indefinitely," you and people like you would be the first to say 'Hooray.'

          • Canadians have the freedom to act irrationally, and I concede that for some people a vote for corrupt Liberals or NDP'ers is a rational decision – the socialists in those parties are more likely to take other people's money and give it to the people who voted for them, like union thugs for example.

    • I believe Elections Canada devotes only a small portion of its budget to voter education and PR. The vast majority of its budget is dedicated to the costs of maintaining a modern, national electoral system, especially in a situation of DEFCON-1 constant readiness for the last five years of minority government.

      It's budget has grown in the last decade because its mandate has grown so significantly; and its staff and other expenditures have had to follow suit. A decade ago Elections operated most of the time on a skeleton crew, only staffing up once an election was called., when they hired tens of thousands of enumerators, poll officials and other temporary election staff.

      Since then, Elections has entered the modern age, has created and maintained a national geographic database, digital maps for every electoral district, and a permanent electronic Register of Electors to replace the manual generation of voters lists by amateur enumerators prior to each electoral event.

      Now, in addition to the temporary staff that must still be hired to run each election, these advances have required a whole new array of permanent employees to be hired. There has been a fundamental change to the way Elections operates – from a 2-bit operation that only really got it's steam up right before an election – to one that is constantly marshaling logistical resources (especially in a minority government situation), refining software applications, updating lists of electors with fresh data from a multitude of sources, etc.

      Fundamentally, their mandate is to facilitate Canadians to exercise their right (and responsibility) to vote. It is not their fault if electoral participation is declining. Indeed, I imagine that it must be quite discouraging to their staff that despite their best efforts, rates of voting continue to decline.

      So, the question is, "what kind of national electoral system do we want?" Do we want to have a piecemeal electoral administration, as in the U.S., where the lack of effective national coordination was most glaringly apparent in the embarrassing banana-republic aftermath of the 2000 presidential election? Or, do we want to an efficient, effective, national electoral system, that does its best to ensure that every Canadian's right to vote is protected and facilitated?

      I know which one I want.

    • If there's one thing the internet has taught me, it's that the informed vote is no worse than the uninformed vote. (In your case, quotes around informed).

  2. Philanthropist: "True democracy can only come from one party rule"

    • Sounds like socialist dogma to me, but it's not funny.

  3. It’s simple. Until they (various Governments that need Voters and hold elections) have a system that lets People vote from their home computers and is secure, then voter turnout will continue to decline.
    Why get into a car or bus,drive perhaps a few miles,stand in line,wait,prove who you are,then cast your vote when a “click of a mouse” in the comfort of your own home would do the same thing.
    Can’t we do this now?Do we not have the technology?Think how much of our money this would save!

  4. "lagging voter turnout" is what the partry in hopee for.
    Change usually takes place with large turnouts.
    Two other reasons for low turnout; lack of inspiring candidates and the fact that youth have found a better way to effect change.

  5. Sorry, that first line should have read "lagging voter turnout" is what the partry in power hopes for.

  6. A classic example of why people like me quit voting. No matter who you vote for, government intrusion gets worse and spending goes up. Why bother. I used to vote Conservative but they have now made me a libertarian. Far less government, much less government spending. Until I see that I only sit and hope. What is happening in Wisconsin with greedy government workers will eventually happen here.

  7. The underlying supposition of this article is that spending more money on elections makes more people vote. And that's pretty naive.

  8. 2008 Election Trivia – Based on the Preliminary Results (http://www.sfu.ca/~aheard/elections/results.html)

    "The electoral district with the lowest turnout in 2008 was Fort McMurray-Athabasca (AB), with only 35.9% of registered voters bothering to venture to the polls. At the other end of the spectrum is Malpeque (PEI), where 72.3% turned out to vote."
    Some people have an ingrained or cultural compulsion to vote where as too many rely on others to vote for them.
    Prince Edward Island's legitimacy as a province maybe disputed but even a hurricane in 2003 didn't delay nor diminish voter turn out.
    Maybe it's time to find out why some groups choose to vote rather than searching for elusive reasons for others being too lazy to have an opinion when it counts; election day.

  9. sometimes we just don't have a viable choice

  10. please let me correct myself we actually do have a choice we can decline our ballots

    • Which isn't working.

  11. So many people around the world have to brave hail of bullets, bombs, IED's and dangers, just to cast a wee vote that may or may not matter, while many of us take it for granted. Our National anthem has a part in it that goes "We stand guard for thee", boy what a shame!.

  12. Yeah; I think the problem is we only really have 2 choices: Con, Lib. If we had a modern electoral system (if I could vote for the Green party for instance, and hope they'd win a few seats in the government), we'd have coalitions of parties, and things would get far more interesting.

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