Electoral participation in the 2012 Québec general elections - Electors aged 18 – 44 years old came back to the polling stations in large numbers during the last general election

December 19, 2012

QuébecCity,December 19, 2012– If we compare with the 2008 general election, Québec electors aged from 18 to 44 returned to the ballot boxes in large numbers, during the September 4, 2012 vote. Looking at specific age cohorts, this increase in participation rate varied between 21% for the 35 to 44 year olds and nearly 26% for the 18 to 24 year olds. This observation is one of those coming out of a study made public today and is the fruit of collaboration between the Chief Electoral Officer of Québec and Université Laval’s Research Chair in Democracy and Parliamentary Institutions.

“It is very heartening to see that electors aged 18 to 44 have exercised their right to vote in large numbers in 2012, particular amongst the youngest of them”, declared the Chief Electoral Officer, Mr. Jacques Drouin. “However, the research indicates that we must remain vigilant and continue to be concerned about voter turnout among the youngest electors.”

The study by the Research Chair also puts in perspective the worrying turnout of 57.43% at the 2008 general election and leads to the conclusion that it was an event “against the trend”. This very low turnout was that of an “exceptional” vote and it is the voters aged 18 to 44 who are largely responsible for correcting this anomaly at the September 2012 general elections. This is what the numbers reveal, over a 60-year period, the voter turnout of Quebecers fell slightly (74.01%, a drop of 5 %) between 1985 and 2008 and that this moderate drop is a better reflection of the reality than the statistically abrupt fall recorded in 2008. In this respect, the 2012 election turnout of 74.60% is satisfying, but it is too early, says the study, to conclude that this represents the start of a trend reversal.

A study based on a very representative sample

Professor François Gélineau, holder of the Research Chair in Democracy and Parliamentary Institutions, led the study which was carried out this fall by using annotated electoral lists from the vote, held on September 4, 2012. A study of the lists allowed for the formation of a representative sample of more than 53,000 Québec electors, from which we could estimate the turnout for each age group with very high statistical precision.

If we compare the turnout rates for age groups between 2008 and 2012, we observe an increase in turnout in all segments, but especially among voters in the younger age groups:

  • 18 – 24 : + 25.9%, at 62.1%
  • 25 – 34 : + 24.5%, at 66.4%
  • 35 – 44 : + 21.6%, at 73.2%

The researcher, however, noted that the 2012 turnout, for the same age groups, resembled those of the 2007 general election. “The apparent increase in turnout observed among the youngest voters between 2008 and 2012 is actually a return to the former situation”, concluded Mr. Gélineau. “The surprise is not so much to note an increase in 2012, but rather a particularly high decline among young electors in 2008. It is thus the 2008 election that has muddied the waters”, interpreted the researcher.

Another observation from the Research Chair’s study is that for every age group, except for those aged 75 and older, higher percentages of women voted than men.

You may consult the complete text (in French) of the study on voter turnout by going to the website of Université Laval’s Research Chair in Democracy and Parliamentary Institutions, at http://www.democratie.chaire.ulaval.ca/index.php?pid=1084&n=444


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Categories : Provincial, General election 2008, Election system, General election 2012