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Federal Voter Turnout in First Nations Reserves (2004–2011) (Research Note)

On-reserve Turnout by Electoral District

Overall, 114 of the 308 electoral districts (37 percent) contained polls on First Nations reserves in 2011. While the previous section looked at provinces and territories as a whole, this section looks at variations within provinces by electoral district. The turnout rates reported are for the 2011 general election and correspond to the on-reserve polls in each riding.

To get a general overview of how turnout rates vary across the country, one option is to look at the standard deviations between ridings in each province, as shown in Table 3. A first observation is that most of the larger provinces show significant variation in on-reserve turnout rates, while smaller provinces tend to have less variation between ridings.

Table 3: Variation of On-reserve Turnout Within Provinces (2011)

Province/Territory Electoral Districts
(n)
On-reserve Polls
(n)
Lowest Turnout Rate
(%)
Highest Turnout Rate
(%)
Average Turnout Rate
(%)
Standard Deviation
(%)
All EDs with reserves 114 1,352 10.5 73.9 44.8 12.6
Newfoundland & Labrador 2 2 30.3 33.3 31.3 1.5
Prince Edward Island 3 6 56.5 59.9 58.2 1.4
Nova Scotia 9 39 37.5 67.2 49.5 8.7
New Brunswick 7 31 19.2 56.2 44.5 12.6
Quebec 15 50 10.5 58.4 30.2 17.5
Ontario 23 185 33.1 56.9 46.3 7.2
Manitoba 6 101 20.6 49.6 37.6 9.0
Saskatchewan 12 210 32.8 73.9 46.4 10.3
Alberta 9 116 27.5 61.9 32.8 10.6
British Columbia 26 607 28.1 58.9 48.6 5.7
Yukon 1 3 69.2 69.2 69.2 -
Northwest Territories 1 2 46.7 46.7 46.7 -
Nunavut a - - - - - -

a There were no First Nations reserves identified in Nunavut.

Beyond this general observation, a few provinces draw particular attention. Ontario, which has a relatively high average on-reserve turnout rate (46.3 percent) and a large number of polls on reserve (185), has a relatively low variation (standard deviation of 7.2). In other words, on-reserve turnout rates in Ontario were consistently high in 2011. In New Brunswick, the on-reserve average turnout rate was even higher (56.2 percent) but an exceptionally large variation (standard deviation of 12.6) indicates that the situation was far from being consistent. The variation is most pronounced among the reserves located in Quebec (standard deviation of 17.5), where turnout rates range from 10.5 percent to 58.4 percent.

There was very little change in standard deviation from 2008 to 2011 (-2.2 in Nova Scotia, -2.0 in Saskatchewan and +1.1 in Manitoba; all others were within ± 1.0).

From 2008 to 2011, turnout went up in 68 of the 114 ridings with polls on reserve (60 percent; average increase of 5.8 points) while it went down in 44 others (39 percent; average decrease of 2.8 points). The change was null in only two electoral districts (Peace River and British Columbia Southern Interior).

As shown in Table 4, 45 percent of all ridings with polls on reserve had an increase above the average increase of 2.3 points, while a small majority (56 percent) remained under the average increase.

It can also be noted that about one in five ridings with polls on reserve (18 percent) turned out in a proportion that remained within a range of plus or minus one percentage point, denoting relative stability.

Table 4: On-reserve Turnout Change by Electoral District (2008–2011)

2008–2011 Turnout Change
(percentage points)
-5
or less
From -5
to -1
From -1
to +1
From +1
to +2.3
From +2.3
to +5
From +5
to +10
Over
+10
Proportion of electoral districts with on-reserve polls 10% 17% 18% 11% 18% 11% 16%

When looking at the detailed results reported in the appended table, the following ridings had a substantial on-reserve turnout increase:

On-reserve increases above the 10-point mark were also noted in the following ridings:

In contrast, the most noticeable decreases on reserves were observed in:

Lastly, a few provinces have seen declining rates in a majority or all of the ridings with polls on reserve. For instance: