Saskatchewan’s chief electoral officer is sounding the alarm on declining voter turnout over the past 35 years.
Michael Boda and his office released a report this week pointing to the decline from 80 per cent in 1982 to just 53 per cent in the 2016 election.
“If you look at the number of people who did not vote… they are actually larger than any number of the people who voted for any of the political parties in the last election,” he told Gormley Thursday.
Boda said despite advance voting increasing by 66 per cent in the last election due to rule changes, less people voted on Election Day.
As such, the turnout only increased by 2.5 per cent.
Ballots cast also stagnated despite a significant increase in voter registration, with more than 90 per cent of those eligible having received registration confirmation in 2016.
Boda said a conversation needs to happen within Saskatchewan as to how turnout can be increased moving forward.
“We’re particularly concerned about any barriers that might exist,” he said, noting Saskatchewan Elections has taken steps to increase accessibility on First Nations and post-secondary campuses.
His hope is analysis by universities and political leaders can identify areas of improvement for his office, so those barriers can be removed.
Boda emphasized the importance of participating, given the impact legislative decisions can have on individuals.
“It’s an issue of education,” he said. “And really taking the opportunity to sit down and think about ‘where do I want Saskatchewan to go in the future?'”
The next provincial election is slated for 2020.