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Politics

NWT election turnout appears to be lowest this century so far


The preliminary Northwest Territories turnout figure for this week’s federal election is the lowest recorded so far this century.

According to Elections Canada’s website, with mail-in ballots now counted, 14,122 of 30,182 registered NWT electors voted. The total does not include people who only registered to vote on polling day, which may slightly increase the finalized percentage in the weeks ahead.

As it stands, the preliminary turnout figure for the NWT is 46.79 percent.

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That’s a drop from 54 percent in 2019 and 65 percent in 2015, though only marginally below turnout figures of 47.71 percent in 2008 and and 47.33 percent in 2004. It may be the territory’s lowest-ever federal turnout, in terms of percentage of registered electors, though reliable figures from some 20th-century elections were not immediately available.

The NWT’s preliminary result in 2021 gives 5,387 votes and 38.2 percent of the vote to Liberal McLeod, ahead of 4,558 votes and 32.3 percent of the vote for New Democrat Kelvin Kotchilea.

If those numbers remain unchanged when finalized, McLeod’s tally will represent the lowest number of votes for a winning NWT candidate since Ethel Blondin-Andrew, also the Liberal candidate, won her seat with 5,317 votes in 2004.

McLeod received 9,172 votes in 2015.

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Kotchilea’s share of the vote in this year’s preliminary data marks the strongest performance, in terms of vote share, by a second-placed NWT candidate since Conservative Brendan Bell picked up 37.6 percent of the vote in losing to the NDP’s Dennis Bevington 13 years ago.

The preliminary data awards Jane Groenewegen 1,791 votes, the most for an independent candidate in the NWT’s history. Wally Firth received 1,597 votes as an independent in 1997, the previous high.

In picking up 355 votes, Roland Laufer avoided the worst performance by a Green Party candidate in the territory. The Greens received 296 votes in 2006. (The fewest votes ever received by an NWT candidate occurred in 2011, when the Animal Alliance received 87 votes.)

Parachute candidate Lea Mollison received 2,031 votes, the lowest total for the Conservative Party in the territory since its formation in 2003.

Nationally, the preliminary turnout figure is 61.27 percent of registered electors, a figure that will vary slightly as the count is not yet finalized in all races.

By comparison, 2019 turnout was 66 percent nationally. Turnout in 2015 was 68.5 percent. Turnout in 2008, at 58.8 percent nationwide, is the lowest on record for a Canadian federal election.

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