With a recent federal election, ongoing US presidential election, and the COVID-19 pandemic the upcoming civic and provincial elections are going to be taxing on voters, and voter turnout could be low.
That from Greg Poelzer, political scientist at the University of Saskatchewan who says because of COVID-19, the degree of isolation is causing normal social interactions, or proverbial water cooler talk to not be happening right now. He says these interactions usually build attention and literacy in important ways and that he doesn’t think the level of engagement will be there this fall election.
Poelzer says especially in provincial elections across Canada, incumbents have a huge advantage. He suggests if you ask the common person in Saskatchewan, most people believe the SaskParty will come back to power, possibly meaning a lower voter turnout due to feeling of a pre-determined outcome. Poelzer anticipates one of the lowest voter turnouts in the province in the last 20 years.
Poelzer says mail in ballots could increase with an increase in accessibility but concerns around the coronavirus could also keep people away from the polls.
According to Poelzer voter uncertainty is also understandable this year, especially given some of the candidates. He points to a mayoralty candidate that is a former cabinet minister, saying people know some candidates in one context or another, and it’s adding to the confusion.
Poelzer says people aren’t always familiar with which level of government is responsible for what issues. Sometimes, he says, the different jurisdictions share different aspects of responsibility and running these two elections, where issues come to play at both levels of government could increase uncertainty.