The untapped power of the non-voter

The last time we held a federal election, more people voted for nobody than for anybody. The total number of eligible voters who stayed home on election day was not only higher than the total number of people who voted for any single party, but also higher than the number of people who voted for the Liberals or the Conservatives combined.

As the Wikipedia entry for the current election illustrates, the Conservatives won the 2008 election with 143 seats, or 37.65% of the vote. Then came the Liberals with 77 seats (26.26%); the Bloc with 49 seats (9.98%); the NDP with 37 seats (18.18%); and the Greens with 0 seats (6.78%). Add those percentages together, and you get 98.85% of the vote.

But as these figures on the Elections Canada website reveal, “the vote” included just 58.8% of all eligible Canadians – the lowest voter turnout for a general election in our country’s history.

In other words, the 37.65% of the vote that went to the Conservatives actually represented just 22.14% of eligible voters. The Liberal figure represented 15.44%, the Bloc total represented 10.69%, the NDP figure represented 5.87%, and the Green Party figure translated to 3.99%.

Compare those totals to the 41.2% of all eligible voters – almost double the number of Canadians who voted the Conservatives back into office – who didn’t vote for anyone at all.

If “none of the above” had been an option on the 2008 ballot, and if everyone who didn’t vote had checked it, then “none of the above” would have won the popular vote by a landslide.

Or to put it another way, if everyone who didn’t vote in the last election had voted for the Greens instead, then the Greens would have won about 46% of the total vote. The Greens, for Christ’s sake!

That’s how many people aren’t voting in Canada. If they were a voting bloc, they’d be unstoppable. They’d be running this country.

And if current trends continue, then it won’t be long before they’re in the majority.

Posted in Election 2011