N.W.T. sees lowest voter turnout in decade

Few voters in the territory's capital showed up to cast ballots in the territorial election, but in some ridings outside Yellowknife, turnout was more than 80 per cent.

Yellowknife ridings low but some other communities saw high turnout

Voter turnout in Monday's territorial election was the lowest in the territory since 1999, which is the earliest year Elections NWT has data available.

Monday's numbers are still unofficial, but they show less that than half of voters in the territory cast ballots. About 57 per cent voted in 2007's election, 69 per cent voted in 2003, and 70 per cent voted in 1999's election.

Most people stayed away from the polls in Yellowknife ridings, with voter turnout ranging from 28 to 35 per cent.

The Weledeh riding had the lowest turnout this year, with less than one third of voters turning up to cast ballots. In the last territorial election, about 80 per cent of Weledeh voters visited the polls.

Just 30 per cent of Frame Lake voters showed up at the polls Monday. That riding had the lowest turnout in the last election, with 45 per cent.

The only first-time member of the legislative assembly in Yellowknife, Daryl Dolynny, says the turnout is unfortunate.

"This is something for the new group of MLAs to come forward and say what can we do, how can we engage these people?" he says. "People need to be engaged. We thought the situation economically was enough to get them to the polls, maybe it's just better communication in terms of how we can get our message across."

Yellowknife's Kam Lake also had low numbers, with 31 per cent turnout. Half the riding's voters cast ballots in 2007.

ID rules blamed for low turnout

Some communities outside the capital saw high turnout. More than 80 per cent of voters cast ballots in the Monfwi and Inuvik Boot Lake ridings, despite some complaints about identification rules for voters.

Voters were required to prove their residency with up to two pieces of identification.

Roy Goose lives in the Inuvik Boot Lake riding. He said election officials wouldn't accept his ID because it showed that he lived in another district.

Goose said he walked away from the voting station without casting a ballot, and added that he wasn't alone.

"People are not going to go back after digging around, running around, to get this, that, and go back and give them what they require," he said.

Goose thinks new ID rules caused voting numbers to be low in some ridings.

"It's not because we don't care, it's because the system turned us away."