Voter Turnout by Ward in Hamilton's municipal elections between 2000 and 2014 Credit: Joey Coleman

Update: CHCH reporting the City of Hamilton tells them 31,719 advance votes were cast

The City of Hamilton will likely release advance voter turnout numbers on Monday or Tuesday.

The turnout may be a new record high number of advance ballots cast.

There were 17,052 advance ballots cast in 2018, an all-time high, and keeps with Hamilton’s trend of increasing advance voting during the past decade.

Record advance voter turnout is not a predictor, nor an indicator, for overall voter turnout.

There has been no correlation between advance voting and overall turnout in Hamilton since 2000.

If the recent federal and provincial elections are any indicators, we should expect record-low voter turnout.

Record High Advance Voting, Record Low Overall Voting

There were approximately 1.07-million advance ballots cast in the Ontario provincial election earlier this year, up from 700,000 in 2018.

However, overall voter turnout plummed to 43.5%, setting a new all-time low.

Similarly, in 2021, a record number of advance ballots were cast in the federal election. Overall turnout dropped “near historic lows.”

Vancouver Just Voted, With Record Low Turnout

Voters in Vancouver voted for their mayor, councillors, and other municipal officials yesterday.

Before election day, there was a significant increase in the number of advance ballots cast compared to recent elections.

“A municipal election that brought sweeping change to B.C.’s two largest cities saw lower turnout than the 2018 contest,” writes Ian Holliday of CTV Vancouver in a story today.

The City of Toronto, which also completed its advance voting days yesterday, is reporting a decrease in the number of advance ballots cast this year.

Change Elections Often Increase Turnout

If you asked me a few months ago, I would have predicted record voter turnout this October.

After all, this is a change election for Hamilton.

There is always a percentage of the population which is content and does vote when their municipal government is fulfilling the basics.

There are variations of sayings that so long as the garbage is picked up, snow is removed from roads, and clean water comes out of the tap, the local politician will keep their job.

Frustration motivates people to vote, and when frustrated people show up to vote, incumbents lose.

This happened in London (Ontario) 2014, Winnipeg 2014, and Burlington 2018 – all elections which saw incumbents swept out of office by frustrated and disappointed voters.

Voter turnout in London increased nearly four percentage points in 2014, reaching 43.24 percent, ‘the best turnout since 1994 and a significant jump from 39.91 percent in 2010.’

(Turnout decreased to 39.46 percent in 2018, London’s average from 2000 to 2010 was 37.9 percent. [i])

Winnipeg’s 2014 voter turnout increased to 50.23 percent from 47.1 percent.

Last election (2018), our neighbours in Burlington booted three of the four incumbents seeking reelection on their seven-person council.

Voter turnout increased to “nearly 40 percent” from 34.1 percent.

Is After-COVID Voting Changes a Trend?

Ask me now what my prediction for Hamilton’s voter turnout is and I will respond that I have no idea.

If you say to me that I must place a bet, I will gamble that voter turnout is going to decrease – even if there are a record number of advance votes cast.

In 2014, the number of advance ballots cast in Hamilton increased slightly compared to 2010.

Voter turnout dropped to 34.0 percent from 2010’s record high of 40.5 percent.

2014’s 34.0 percent is the lowest turnout since amalgamation in 2000.

We’ll find out next week what happens.


[i] Anderson, Cameron D, and Laura B Stephenson. “London.” Big City Elections in Canada, by Jack Lucas and R. Michael McGregor, University of Toronto Press, 2021, pp. 127–145.

Production Details
Current Version: 1.1.0
First published: October 16, 2022
Last edited: October 17, 2022
Author: Joey Coleman
Edit Record
v. 1.0.0 original version
v. 1.1.0 Oct 17, 12:15pm, added top note with CHCH report on ballots cast.

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