Voter Turnout at Federal Elections and Referendums

About this table

Presenting these figures involves several challenges. The data contained in official election results since Confederation have not been reported consistently. In the case of an election by acclamation, for instance, the number of registered electors on the lists for that electoral district was included in the total number of registered electors for some elections, but not for others. In other cases, lists of electors were not prepared for some districts. In Prince Edward Island, no lists were prepared in the entire province for several elections.

Moreover, a number of electoral districts were dual-member constituencies until 1966. As each elector could vote for more than one candidate, the reported number of votes cast (valid and rejected ballots) was higher than it would have been in a single-member scenario. Voter turnout figures have been corrected where appropriate: to estimate turnout in these cases, the total number of votes cast in a plural-member electoral district was divided by the number of members elected from that district (see Scarrow 1962).

Voter Turnout at Federal Elections and Referendums
Date of election/
referendum
Population Number of
Electors on lists
Total
ballots cast
Voter turnout
(%)
7 August - 20 September 1867Footnote 1 3,230,000 361,028 268,387 73.1
20 July - 12 October 1872 3,689,000 426,974 318,329 70.3
22 January 1874 3,689,000 432,410 324,006 69.6
17 September 1878 3,689,000 715,279 534,029 69.1
20 June 1882 4,325,000 663,873 508,496 70.3
22 February 1887 4,325,000 948,222 724,517 70.1
5 March 1891 4,833,000 1,113,140 778,495 64.4
23 June 1896 4,833,000 1,358,328 912,992 62.9
29 September 1898Footnote 2 4,833,000 1,236,419 551,405 44.6
7 November 1900 4,833,000 1,167,402 958,497 77.4
3 November 1904 5,371,000 1,385,440 1,036,878 71.6
26 October 1908 5,371,000 1,463,591 1,180,820 70.3
21 September 1911 7,204,527 1,820,742 1,314,953 70.2
17 December 1917 7,591,971 2,093,799 1,892,741 75.0
6 December 1921 8,760,211 4,435,310 3,139,306 67.7
29 October 1925 8,776,352 4,608,636 3,168,412 66.4
14 September 1926 8,887,952 4,665,381 3,273,062 67.7
28 July 1930 8,887,952 5,153,971 3,922,481 73.5
14 October 1935 10,367,063 5,918,207 4,452,675 74.2
26 March 1940 10,429,169 6,588,888 4,672,531 69.9
27 April 1942Footnote 2 11,494,627 6,502,234 4,638,847 71.3
11 June 1945 11,494,627 6,952,445 5,305,193 75.3
27 June 1949 11,823,649 7,893,629 5,903,572 73.8
10 August 1953 14,003,704 8,401,691 5,701,963 67.5
10 June 1957 16,073,970 8,902,125 6,680,690 74.1
31 March 1958 16,073,970 9,131,200 7,357,139 79.4
18 June 1962 18,238,247 9,700,325 7,772,656 79.0
8 April 1963 18,238,247 9,910,757 7,958,636 79.2
8 November 1965 18,238,247 10,274,904 7,796,728 74.8
25 June 1968 20,014,880 10,860,888 8,217,916 75.7
30 October 1972 21,568,311 13,000,778 9,974,661 76.7
8 July 1974 21,568,311 13,620,353 9,671,002 71.0
22 May 1979 22,992,604 15,233,653 11,541,000 75.7
18 February 1980 22,992,604 15,890,416 11,015,514 69.3
4 September 1984 24,343,181 16,774,941 12,638,424 75.3
21 November 1988 25,309,331 17,639,001 13,281,191 75.3
26 October 1992Footnote 2 Footnote 3 20,400,896 13,725,966 9,855,978 71.8
25 October 1993 27,296,859 19,906,796 13,863,135 69.6Footnote 4
2 June 1997 27,296,859 19,663,478 13,174,698 67.0
27 November 2000 28,846,761 21,243,473 12,997,185 61.2Footnote 5
28 June 2004 30,007,094 22,466,621 13,683,570 60.9
23 January 2006 30,007,094 23,054,615 14,908,703 64.7
14 October 2008 31,612,897 23,677,639 13,929,093 58.8
2 May 2011 31,612,897 24,257,592 14,823,408 61.1

Source: Reports of the Clerk of the Crown in Chancery (1867-1917); reports of the Chief Electoral Officer (1921-2008); unpublished summary data prepared by Elections Canada; R. Pomfret, The Economic Development of Canada (1987); H.A. Scarrow, Canada Votes (1962); Contact (1985).