Ottawa

Chart: Why the on-reserve Aboriginal vote is lower than average

The turnout rate among on-reserve Aboriginals is significantly lower than for the overall Canadian population—for a variety of reasons

Every day, Maclean’s Show and Tell infographic series will highlight interesting data in a visually appealing way, bringing clarity and context to some aspect of the campaign—whether it’s one of the election’s major issues, or a less-discussed concern. Read this daily chart series in our special daily “Bulldog” edition.

Voter turnout in Canadian federal elections tends to be lower among on-reserve Aboriginals than non-Aboriginals.

In 2011, 44.8 per cent of those living on reserves turned out to vote, while 61.1 per cent of the overall Canadian population cast a ballot. And this voting gap is a trend we’ve seen for at least the past four elections. While the on-reserve turnout rate follows the national trend, it remains significantly lower. In fact, in 2004, there was an entire 20.6 percentage-point difference between the national and on-reserve turnout rates.

Related: Perry Bellegarde in conversation with Nancy Macdonald

A 2011 Elections Canada report on Aboriginal electoral participation suggests this gap in turnout can be attributed to a few factors, including lower rates of registration, fewer political resources, younger average age and poorer socioeconomic situations.

About 97 per cent of people resident on reserves have Registered Indian status (according to the 2011 National Household Survey), but it should be noted that these data can’t be used to describe all Aboriginals; only about 45 per cent of Canadians with Registered Indian status live on a reserve.onreservevote_chart