Fewer than half of Ontario voters bothered to cast a ballot in the last general election.
Will that 24-year trend reverse itself this time around? Unlikely.
As recently as the 1990 Ontario election – which surprised many, including the NDP itself, by handing Bob Rae a majority government – turnout hit 64%.
But it’s been falling consistently in five provincial elections in a row.
Elections in 2003, 2007 and 2011 each set a new Ontario record for low turnout.
In Depth: Ontario Election 2014
If the advance polls are any indication, this year could set yet another apathy record. More than 36,000 fewer people voted at advance polls this year in than in 2011.
Read More: The award for most apathetic riding goes to…
Extrapolating that trend to turnout for the whole election would give us a voter turnout of 45.2% – the fourth record low in a row.
Interactive: How did your riding’s turnout change since 2007? Type an address or postal code in the box above. Double-click to zoom, click and drag to move around. Click a riding for details, and switch between views using the drop-down menu.Interactive: Ontario voter turnout »
Interactive: Ontario voter turnout
At that rate, another couple of elections would bring us to 36.5%, half of the 73% voter turnout in 1971, the first Ontario election in which 18-year-olds could vote.
In some areas, weather may further dampen voters’ sense of civic duty: most of eastern Ontario and the Kenora area were under a heavy rainfall warning at midday Thursday.
The lack of voter interest may seem surprising in a cliffhanger election with sharply defined differences between the parties.
But, as Queen’s University political studies professor Jonathan Rose told the Canadian Press, the 40-day campaign hasn’t featured any of the usual factors that drive people to the polls.
Voters are usually galvanized by either a single hot-button issue or an active economic crisis, he said. Neither factor is present this time around.
More importantly, Rose said, Liberal Premier Kathleen Wynne, Progressive Conservative Leader Tim Hudak and NDP Leader Andrea Horwath have all failed to capture the public’s imagination.
“There is not a lot of enthusiasm for any of the leaders, in part because I don’t think any of them are inspiring.”Ontario voter turnout, 1934-2011 »