Tales of voter suppression in the last federal election have emerged across the country. But while ridings alleged to have been targeted by these tactics were won by smaller margins than those not implicated, an analysis of these ridings indicates voter turnout was higher, not lower, than elsewhere in Canada.
n almost 70 ridings from every region of the country, allegations have been made that voters were falsely directed to polling stations by “robo-calls” or were harassed at all hours of the night by rude live callers posing as representatives of the Liberal Party. The opposition parties have blamed the Conservatives for these calls, and indeed Elections Canada has found some indication of a link between calls made in the Ontario riding of Guelph and the local Tory campaign there.
But an analysis of these ridings shows turnout averaged 61.6 per cent, slightly higher than the 60.9 per cent average turnout in ridings where no allegations of impropriety have been reported. If we only focus on the ridings in which allegations of misleading robo-calls have been made, the turnout averaged 62 per cent.
Compared to 2008, turnout increased by 4.7 per cent in these ridings. It increased by only 3.9 per cent in ridings that have not been implicated in the scandal. Turnout in neighbouring untainted ridings does not seem to have been significantly different. If these allegations of voter suppression tactics are indeed true, they do not appear to have been very successful.
Nevertheless, there is a clear difference between ridings in which misleading or harassing phone calls are alleged to have been made and ridings in which there have been no allegations of under-handed tactics.