A large majority of Ontarians did not vote in the 2022 provincial election, leading to the lowest turnout the province has ever seen.
Unofficial results from Elections Ontario show about 43 percent of eligible voters cast ballots in this election, down from 57 percent in 2018.
This means of the over 10.7 million registered voters, just over 4.6 million placed their votes to choose the party they want to lead the province.
Official tabulation has not been completed, but Elections Ontario confirmed Friday that turnout was the lowest on record.
The last time the province saw a turnout below 50 percent was in 2011, when just 48 percent of Ontarians 18 years and older placed a vote, seeing Dalton McGuinty’s Liberal Party win a minority government at the time.
While Doug Ford’s Progressive Conservatives (PCs) secured a second majority government on June 2, preliminary results showed his party won just over 1.9 million votes.
However, the PCs grew their number of seats to 83, an increase of seven seats compared to the 2018 election, while the NDP got 31 seats, losing nine seats compared to 2018. The Liberals gained one seat compared to four years ago, winning a total of eight seats, while the Greens held on to their single seat.
Ford’s victory led to the resignations of both Andrea Horwath as leader of the New Democrats and Steven Del Duca as leader of the Liberals.
A few factors about this particular campaign likely contributed to the low turnout, including a perceived lack of a competitive race, said Cameron Anderson, an associate political science professor at Western University.
“It was sort of a clear conservative lead all the way through,” he said. “And the closer we got, the more that held, the less there was a sense of ‘this is a competitive election, this is something that I need to get out and vote to have my voice heard.’”
Speaking at a press conference on June 3, Ford was asked to explain the low turnout, and to answer whether the “lowest voter turnout in history” gave him the mandate to govern Ontario.
“I think it’s pretty clear the people gave us a mandate with 83 seats and we’re going to focus on our mandate,” he said. “We travelled across this province for the last four to five weeks, setting a clear direction where we’re going with this province.”
Ford was also asked if the province will consider changing the voting system to one that is “more representative” such that “those percentages actually translate to seats in the Ontario legislature.”
“I think this system [has] worked for over a hundred and some odd years. It is going to continue to work that way,” he said.
The Canadian Press contributed to this report.