The non-voting majority : a study of non-voting in the 2011 Vancouver municipal election
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Subjectdemocratic literacy; heuristic-systematic model; non-voter; political efficacy; social capital; Vancouver municipal election
All levels of governments in Canada are seeing a continued decrease in voting during elections. The lowest voter turnout rates are at the municipal level--the 2011 Vancouver municipal election saw only 34 percent of eligible voters participate. This research examines why citizen participation is decreasing in Vancouver municipal elections and focuses that research through three theories (rational voter theory, social capital and political efficacy). The research relied on existing academic literature, and combined that with primary data yielded from focus groups made up of self-declared non-voters from the 2011 Vancouver municipal election, with the addition of several subject experts (academic and those involved in running municipal campaigns). The research revealed that many non-voters are disengaged in their communities, distrust politics, do not understand the role of municipal government, and are mistrustful that voting will make a difference or that the government will represent them. They perceive that voting is too complicated in municipal elections because of factors such as having to vote for multiple positions which is a stark contrast to federal or provincial elections where they only vote for one. The thesis also identifies solutions to increase citizen participation in future municipal elections.
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