Ford Dismisses Concerns About Voter Turnout
When the newly elected Premier Doug Ford was asked by a reporter about the impact of the low voter turnout on his claim to a mandate following the Ontario election, he answered, “It’s pretty clear the people gave us a mandate with 83 seats and we’re going to focus on our mandate.” He also dismissed demands to reform how votes are counted in favour of a system of proportional representation, saying the first-past-the-post method of counting votes has worked “for over 100 and some odd years,” and “it’s going to continue to work that way.”
This dismissal of any concern over voter turnout and what it means for the legitimacy of government decisions and consideration of any form of electoral reform fly in the face of increasing concerns of the polity and even government officials who have expertise in the field.
After voter turnout dropped to just below 60 per cent in the 2008 federal election the University of Toronto published an article warning that voter participation could reach a new low of 57 per cent. The article quoted then Chief Electoral Officer Jean-Pierre Kingsley, who said that “declining turnout warrants action because it puts the legitimacy of Canada’s electoral outcomes and its democracy at stake.”
“What will happen if we ever reach 50 per cent?” he questioned. “We simply have to understand why something as vital as electoral democracy all of sudden, inside a generation, is evaporating.”