A voter walks past a sign directing voters to a polling station for the Canadian federal election in Cremona, Alta., Monday, Oct. 19, 2015. (Jeff McIntosh/The Canadian Press)

Should voting be mandatory in federal elections?

Fifty-seven per cent of British Columbians surveyed said they support compulsory voting

As the nation gears up for its next federal election this October, a majority of British Columbians believe the best way to get all eligible voters involved is to make voting mandatory.

Roughly 57 per cent of those surveyed in a recent Research Co. poll said they favour mandatory polling, while 33 per cent disagreed and seven per cent said they’re undecided on the issue.

Among those who supported the idea, Generation X and Baby Boomers were most likely to agree, at 61 per cent and 60 per cent, respectively. That’s compared t 49 per cent of millennials, or those aged 18 to 34, who agreed with compulsory voting.

Mandatory voting has been an idea debated for decades as a way to increase voter turnout. Seventy-seven per cent of Canadians stopped by a polling booth in the 2015 federal election.

READ MORE: Groups ready campaign to help young voters identify ‘fake news’ in election

Twenty-two countries enforce compulsory voting, including Australia, Brazil and North Korea.

Exactly what sparks a higher voter turnout – a favoured government or an interest in turnover – has also been long debated, but the Research Co. poll may offer some insight into where British Columbians stand ahead of the election.

Across the province, 72 per cent of the 800 British Columbians surveyed believe “most federal politicians have to follow the party line and have little to no autonomy”, a proportion that rises to 84 per cent among residents aged 55 and over.

Fifty-eight per cent feel that “there is currently no federal political party that truly represents my views”.

Meanwhile, 40 per cent believe that “most federal politicians are trying to do the right thing.” That number dips to 27 per cent among millennials.

Only 24 per cent surveyed said they believe federal politicians actually care about what happens to “people like me”.

The exact date for the federal election has not been announced, but Elections Canada estimates it will be Oct. 21.


@ashwadhwani
ashley.wadhwani@bpdigital.ca

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