Nova Scotia

Voter turnout only 37% in HRM election

Voter fatigue is being blamed for the fact that fewer than four out of 10 eligible voters cast a ballot in the Halifax municipal election.

Fewer than four out of 10 eligible voters cast a ballot in the Halifax municipal election, with some people blaming the low turnout on voter fatigue.

There were 284,258 eligible voters in the Halifax Regional Municipality. But only a handful more than 100,000 voted Saturday or in advance polls — a turnout of just 37 per cent.

With the use of a new electronic voting system, municipal election officials were hoping to reach 50 per cent.

Krista Snow, who lost her Waverley-area council seat to Barry Dalrymple, called the low numbers disappointing. She would have done better had more people voted, she said.

"There's people that walk miles and miles across the desert to vote," Snow said. "And this election, they could have picked up their phone at home, and so it's extremely disappointing."

For the first time, voters in the HRM had the option of making their choices online or by telephone. The electronic system was introduced to make voting easier and encourage more people to cast a ballot. It was available during an advance poll.

But only slightly more than 10 per cent of voters marked an X through this system.

James Stuewe, who lost a race to incumbent Dawn Sloane in District 12, blamed the low numbers on voter fatigue.

The municipal election coincided with the federal election — an advance poll was even held the same day as the federal vote last Tuesday.

"It was clear when we were heading door to door that people had had enough politics," Stuewe said. "They went out to vote on Tuesday federally, and people weren't going to head out again on Saturday."

Voter turnout for the federal election was also lower across the province than in two previous elections, with slightly more than 60 per cent of eligible Nova Scotians casting a ballot.

Nova Scotians head to the polls every four years to elect municipal and school representatives.

In the 2004 municipal election, voter turnout in the Halifax region was around 48 per cent. But that year's balloting included a province-wide plebiscite on Sunday shopping.

In 2000, turnout was about 37 per cent.