Understanding Voter Turnout in Canada: What Data Do We Lack?

Article 1 / 11 , Vol 42 No. 1 (Spring)

Christopher H. Achen 

 Voter turnout, particularly among youth, has been in decline over the past few decades. Federal officials have expressed concern about this trend. Although they have sought help from researchers to understand the reasons for the lack of participation in hopes of reversing it, scholars lack some of the information they need to confidently advise policymakers and their fellow citizens on how to get more ballots cast. In this article, the author outlines the main factors/variables which explain voter turnout. He then explains why researchers require supplementary information that only official government records can supply to properly consider these variables. Two sources of official information are highlighted as being particularly relevant—official turnout records and unemployment surveys with a voting supplement. The author concludes by offering three recommendations for how to make this information available to researchers while still taking steps to protect Canadians’ privacy.

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