63.3 per cent of Nunavut voters cast ballots in 2017 election
“We saw some great participation”
Unofficial results from the Oct. 30 election show that 63.3 per cent of Nunavut’s eligible voters cast a ballot in the territory’s fifth general election.
Across the 21 ridings that voted Oct. 30, turnout varied from 48 per cent to 81 per cent.
In the 22nd riding, Kugluktuk, Mila Komingoak was acclaimed as the new MLA because she had no challengers.
The official and final breakdown of results from the 2017 election must be published in a report prepared by the chief electoral officer and tabled at Nunavut’s legislative assembly within 280 days of the writ being dropped Sept. 25—which means it will likely be made public during the spring 2018 session of the legislature.
The report will include finalized voting numbers and recommendations on how the territory can adapt electoral processes to better suit its candidates and voters, said the official who’ll author that report, Elections Nunavut’s chief electoral officer Dustin Fredlund.
“We strive to respond to the requests of candidates and communities,” he said.
An example of how things can change: in 2013, Elections Nunavut maintained a black-out period for campaigning the day before and day of a general election.
Based on feedback from candidates, the Election Act was modified earlier this year and now allows for campaigning right up to election day, he said.
Overall, Fredlund said the 2017 election campaign and voting day, staffed by 150 election workers across the territory, went off without a hitch.
“I’m very pleased with how election day went,” he said. “We saw some great participation.”
That includes some 2,000 high school students across Nunavut who voted in mock elections last week, a group Fredlund hopes to see at the polls once they’ve reached voting age.
Some Nunavummiut noted one small glitch Oct. 30: Elections Nunavut briefly and mistakenly reversed the results of the two candidates in Baker Lake; CBC initially reported that Karen Kabloona had been elected, instead of the incumbent MLA Simeon Mikkungwak.
“We remedied that as soon as we could,” Fredlund said.
Many Nunavummiut were hoping to get full election results before they went to bed Oct. 30, but that wasn’t the case—the last of the results came in around 2 a.m. EST on Oct. 31.
That wasn’t due to any delay, Fredlund said. That’s just the nature of counting polls.
“We empathize with Nunavummiut and media waiting patiently for results to come in,” he said. “But election officials have to account for every ballot. It’s more than just a matter of counting, but ensuring that there’s no discrepancy.”
The only recount required this election took place in Cambridge Bay, where candidates Jeannie Ehaloak and Pam Gross finished within nine votes of each other. A judicial recount held Nov. 4 confirmed Ehaloak’s election as MLA.
More Nunavummiut than ever clicked on Elections Nunavut’s webpage to get information on voting day—more than double the number of people who checked the website during election day in 2013.
And the number of people checking results online after polls closed was up about 20 per cent from 2013, Fredlund said. The Elections Nunavut website clocked over 91,000 page views on Oct. 30 from 4, 071 individual viewers.
Elections Nunavut also saw more Nunavummiut than ever interacting with its social media, Fredlund said, on both Facebook and Twitter.
But if indeed the 63 per cent voter turnout sticks for the 2017 election, that indicates a steady decline in turnout over the 18 years and five general elections held in Nunavut since the territory was created.
Voter turnout started off at 88.6 per cent in Nunavut’s first election in 1999 and gradually dropped to 70.3 per cent in the 2013 general election.
Nunavut’s next MLAs started their orientation in Iqaluit this week. The fifth session of the legislative assembly is expected to get underway Nov. 21.