Age and distance from Province House key factors in plebiscite vote

The younger you are, and the closer you live from Province House, the more likely you were to vote for change in P.E.I.'s electoral reform plebiscite, according the Elections P.E.I.'s interim report.

Electoral reform plebiscite favoured change, but voter turnout low

Younger voters, and those living closer to Charlottetown, were most likely to vote for change in the P.E.I. plebiscite on electoral reform. (Natalia Goodwin/CBC)

The younger you are, and the closer you live to Province House, the more likely you were to vote for change in P.E.I.'s electoral reform plebiscite, according the Elections P.E.I.'s interim report.

A mixed member proportion representation system came out on top in the voting, but Premier Wade MacLauchlan has expressed concern about making changes based on a plebiscite with a voter turnout of only 36 per cent.

The interim report contains far more details than those released on Nov. 7, the day voting closed, including breakdowns of the results by district and by age. The differences in how people voted varied significantly when looking at both the district and age breakdowns.

Islanders were asked to rank five choices in order of preference. (Natalia Goodwin/CBC)

Results by age

In broad strokes, people aged 65 and over ultimately supported keeping first past the post, while those under 65 voted for mixed member proportional representation.

The chart below shows what percentage of people voted for first past the post on the first ballot, by age.

The support, for first past the post on the first ballot, bounced between 20 and 24 per cent for people under 45, and then began climbing significantly, hitting 49 per cent for people aged 85 and older.

Results by district

Mixed member proportional representation won the plebiscite, with 52.4 per cent of the vote on the fourth count.

A large majority of districts — 22 of 27 — voted for mixed member proportional representation.

The odds that voters were looking for change roughly matched how close they were living to province house. Generally speaking, the closer you were, the more interested you were in change.

This is reflected in the fact that of the five districts that ultimately voted to keep first past the post:

  • Georgetown - St Peters
  • Borden - Carleton
  • O'Leary - Inverness
  • Alberton - Roseville
  • Tignish - Palmer Road

Four are in the far east and west of the province. The exception, Borden - Carleton, is still a significant distance from Province House.

A look at the first count of the ballots — which reflects voters first choices, shows that same pattern of support for first past the post increasing the further away the district is from Province House.

The table below shows how all the districts voted on the first ballot, listed in order of how close they are to the provincial capital building.

Charlottetown - Victoria Park, the district that actually contains Province House, had the lowest support for first past the post.

There are some significant exceptions to the trend, such as Kellys Cross - Cumberland, the home district of Green Party Leader Peter Bevan-Baker. Evangeline - Miscouche also showed low support for the status quo, which as the smallest district in the province would have the most to lose with the end of the first past the post system.

About the Author

Kevin Yarr is the early morning web journalist at CBC P.E.I. You can reach him at


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