Many Windsor-Essex residents didn't turn out to vote. Here's a look at why

·3 min read
A provincial election sign outside of Frank W. Begley Public School in Windsor-Tecumseh, on June 2, 2022.  (Kerri Breen/CBC - image credit)
A provincial election sign outside of Frank W. Begley Public School in Windsor-Tecumseh, on June 2, 2022. (Kerri Breen/CBC - image credit)

Voter turnout across Ontario may have fallen to a historic low in Thursday's election, and in two Windsor-Essex ridings, turnout was even lower than the provincial average.

In Ontario, 43.5 per cent of eligible voters cast a ballot, according to unofficial results with all but one poll counted.

In Windsor-Tecumseh, where Progressive Conservative Andrew Dowie was elected, 40.3 per cent of those eligible cast a ballot.

Just 33.3 per cent did so in Windsor West, where NDP MPP Lisa Gretzky was re-elected.

In Essex, where PC candidate Anthony Leardi was the winner, there was a slightly higher turnout, at 47 per cent.

University of Windsor political science professor Emmanuelle Richez said a lot of factors can help explain low turnout.

"For example, age and income and education. In Windsor West, you have a lot of students who don't necessarily vote. You also have some populations of lower income, and that can definitely impact participation rates," she said.

She also pointed to education, saying more needs to be done in elementary and high school. She believes community groups and political parties have a role to play in getting people engaged as well.

She also said that voter apathy benefits incumbent candidates.

Jason Viau/CBC
Jason Viau/CBC

Luc Michaud, who was part of Windsor Morning's panel of voters under 40 and weighed in on various issues during the campaign, said there was a perception out there that the outcome of the election was a foregone conclusion.

"I feel like a lot of people just didn't feel like whatever they did at the polls was going to matter and that was the general consensus I got from people," said Michaud, who went on to say he doesn't agree with that position.

Amna Massoodi, who also participated in the panel, said people became too busy in their own lives to pay attention.

"Maybe more interface with the community would have helped, door to door and stuff, but I know because of COVID they have to be kind of careful about that as well," she said.

"So definitely I think the people that wanted to find information, that were willing to take the initiative, they did despite the pandemic, and then the people that didn't want to, or didn't have the time to or didn't think about it, didn't realize what was happening, they just were left in the dust."

PCs turn Windsor-Tecumseh, Essex blue

The election saw the PCs make a historic breakthrough in clinching the ridings of Windsor-Tecumseh and Essex, which traditionally have been represented by the NDP and Liberals.

In Essex, Leardi won by a landslide, with 51 per cent of the vote.

"The Progressive Conservative Party has not elected a representative in the riding of Essex for 60 years," he said Thursday night. "That's six decades. Tonight, we turned Essex blue in 2022."

The riding was previously represented by Taras Natyshak of the NDP, who did not seek reelection.

In Windsor-Tecumseh, where longtime NDP MPP Percy Hatfield also stepped aside, PC candidate Dowie was successful among a field of 10 candidates.

In reacting to the outcome of the vote in Windsor-Tecumseh, NDP candidate Gemma Grey-Hall referenced the low turnout, saying it's a reminder about the importance of education about our democracy.

"I think it's important that people know that they can make their voice heard through the ballot box," she said Thursday night.

"When you're looking at normally less than 40 per cent voter turnout, you start to think that people are disengaged and you wonder why."

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