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Most common reason for not voting on May 2: 'not interested'

Statistics Canada reported today that 7.5 million Canadians didn't vote on May 2, and of those, 2 million just "weren't interested." Another 1.7 million were "too busy."

Other reasons for failing to vote included "out of town/away," "own illness/disability," "did not like candidates/issues," and "forgot to vote."

StatsCan explained how it obtained the information:

Data for this release were derived from three questions added to the May 2011 Labour Force Survey, commissioned by Elections Canada, to determine the main reasons Canadians did not vote in the May 2, 2011 federal election.

These voluntary questions were: a) Are you a Canadian citizen; b) Did you vote in the recent federal election held on Monday, May 2, 2011; and, if they did not vote, c) What is the main reason you did not vote?

Previous studies and post-elections surveys commissioned by Elections Canada have consistently shown that voter turnout rates reported in those studies are 14 to 22 percentage points higher than official Elections Canada turnout rates. The estimate for the voter turnout rate in this special LFS study (70.0%) also differs from the official figure published by Elections Canada (61.4%) following the May 2, 2011 federal election. The intention of this study, however, was to focus on the reasons for not voting rather than voter turnout rates.

For the sake of brevity, the reason "not interested in voting" also includes those who indicated that they felt that their vote would not make a difference in the election results. As well, the term "too busy" also includes having family obligations or having a work or school schedule conflict.

Among Canadians aged 18 to 24, the most common reason for not voting was "not interested" (30 per cent). Another 23 per cent said they were "too busy."

Nonvoting seniors (65-74) reported "illness/disability" as their chief reason (22 percent), followed by "not interested" (21 percent).

Thirty-five percent of recent Canadian immigrants who didn't vote said they were "too busy" (35 percent). Among immigrants landed more than ten years, 23 per cent said they were "too busy." Nonvoting Canadians by birth said they were "not interested" (30 per cent).

A table included in the report shows that 22.8 per cent of nonvoting British Columbians gave "not interested" as their reason, followed by "too busy" (23.9 per cent), "out of town/away" (11.8 per cent), "illness/disability" (9.1 per cent), and "did not like candidates/issues" (7.7 per cent).

Crawford Kilian is a contributing editor of The Tyee.

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