Nunavik voter turnout still low, still Liberal
Only 27 per cent of Nunavimmiut cast ballots in April 7 Quebec election
A highly-publicized campaign and the presence of an Inuk candidate did not seem to attract more Nunavimmiut to the polls in the April 7 Quebec election.
A regional breakdown of election night results in the Ungava shows that, despite a bump in the riding’s overall voter turnout, only 27 per cent of Nunavimmiut cast ballots, roughly the same percentage as in the 2012 election.
Overall voter turnout in Ungava went from 31 per cent in 2012 to 41 per cent in this election — a boost for the region, but still low compared to the 75 per cent turnout across the province.
In Nunavik, voters stuck to the norm and gave most of their support – 45 per cent – to the Liberals, whose Kuujjuaq-based based candidate Jean Boucher won the riding from long-time Parti Québécois MNA Luc Ferland.
Liberal support was highest in all but five Nunavik communities. In Salluit, voters cast their ballots overwhelmingly in favour of local candidate Michael Cameron, who ran for the Coalition Avenir Québec.
Cameron took 84 per cent of votes in Salluit, compared to Boucher’s one per cent.
Overall, Cameron won 36 per cent of Nunavik’s support April 7, while the PQ’s Ferland finished third with eight per cent support.
Nunavik’s smallest community produced the highest voter turnout in the region, with 48 per cent, while Puvnirnituq registered the lowest in the region, with a weak 14 per cent turnout.
It’s not clear how many more Nunavimmiut would have cast ballots if they had confirmed their registration on the ridings list of eligible voters beforehand.
A number of Nunavimmiut took to social media April 7 to say that, although they voted in a previous election, their names weren’t on the list when they showed up to the polling station.
“A lot of people who voted in previous elections weren’t on the list,” Cameron said of his local polling station. “There were at least 25 (potential) voters in Salluit who were turned away. We’re not sure what happened.”
“It could be one of the reasons we have a low voter turnout,” he added. “If there were 25 here, how many in other communities?”
But Luc Bédard, the returning officer for the Ungava riding, said while there can be occasional errors in the system, staff did not report problems with voting in Nunavik communities.
“It’s the responsibility of each voter to verify they are included on the list,” Bédard said, regardless of whether or not they voted in the last election.
“If necessary, voter can apply to the board of review to validate their registration,” he added.
Bédard said his office was thorough in its voters’ list revision, which happened between March 28 and April 2. That’s when a team of four Elections Quebec staff visited each community in Nunavik to finalize its voting list.
Ahead of the next election, Cameron said officials need to ensure that people have all the information they need to vote.