Manitoba

This neighbourhood had one of the lowest voter turnouts in the last federal election, but why?

Allison Flemming is among the almost 70 per cent of people who live in her polling area who didn't vote in the last federal election.

Poll 135 recorded one of the lowest voter turnouts in the province in 2015, with 31 per cent

Allison Flemming lives on Flora Avenue and has never voted. (Sam Samson/CBC)

Allison Flemming smiles as she says she's never voted in her life.

"Once I was educated on who stood for what and what changes they might make, I would know who to vote for," she said.

"I don't go by other people's opinions and that's why I haven't voted, because I don't even know the names of the candidates. And I bet a lot of people out here would say the same thing."

Flemming is among the almost 70 per cent of people who live in her polling area who didn't vote in the last federal election. Her neighbourhood, which voted in Poll 135, is one of the polling areas in the province with the lowest voter participation — 31 per cent cast a ballot in 2015.

The small rectangle of city blocks sits at the bottom of Winnipeg North, the federal riding with the lowest voter turnout in Manitoba in 2015. When Justin Trudeau was elected prime minister, that riding recorded 59 per cent voter turnout — about 10 per cent less than the national average.

Allison Flemming looks onto Flora Avenue from her doorstep. She loves the neighbourhood cats, which has earned her the nickname Allycat. (Sam Samson/CBC)

Flemming lives on Flora Avenue, smack dab in the middle of Poll 135. There are 272 electors on the area's voting lists, but only 83 people voted on election day. 

This neighbourhood of more than 180 residences is diverse, with big, extended families living beside retired people on pensions and newcomers living in Habitat for Humanity homes. The median income is $18,435, Statistics Canada says.

James Beck has lived with his family on Stella Avenue on and off for about eight years. For the most part, he likes the community.

"Except for you've got the odd drug house that's up here every once in a while, but they usually get shut down pretty quick. Somebody in the neighbourhood says something," he said.

James Beck has lived with his family in the North End on and off for about eight years. He's been in and out of prison over the years, and doesn't know if he'll vote in the next election. (Trevor Brine/CBC)

Beck has been in and out of prison over the past few years, most recently getting out in March. He doesn't normally vote, but he did for the provincial election a few weeks ago.

He isn't sure who he's going to vote for in the federal election — or if he'll even vote — because he doesn't know who's running. He hasn't seen or heard of any candidates in the neighbourhood.

"If they want votes, they should be out there pounding the pavement," he said.

"I know this is considered a troubled neighbourhood and stuff, but you've got to hit those neighbourhoods, too. Those votes count."

This is the first in a series of stories titled Operation Vote that CBC Manitoba will be doing about this polling area and why it has such low voter turnout. We'll explore what it would take for some non-voters to mark an X on the federal election ballot.

CBC Manitoba is hosting an Operation Vote block party with free hot dog supper on Thursday, Oct. 17 from 4:30 - 7 p.m. in the heart of Winnipeg's North End at Powers-Selkirk Park South at 470 A Selkirk, across the street from the Bell Tower. Come meet the candidates from the four main parties in your riding as CBC's afternoon radio show Up To Speed and CBC News Winnipeg at 6 happen live on location.  

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