Date of Award
Major Research Paper
Master of Public Administration
Voter turnout has been declining in Canadian elections at all three levels of government, raising questions about the quality of Canadian democracy. This trend is believed to be pronounced at the municipal level, but some academics, local governments, and professional organizations believe its true extent is unknown because municipal voters’ lists in Ontario may not be as accurate as provincial and federal lists This research paper assesses this claim and provides recommendations for reform. The literature review examines the potential implications of inaccurate voters’ lists. First, inaccurate voters’ lists may pose threats to municipal clerks’ ability to conduct free and fair elections. Secondly, inaccurate lists may decrease citizen engagement in elections, particularly amongst those who are least likely to vote. Finally, revising inaccurate voters’ lists is time consuming and costly for Ontario’s municipalities. Research sources include interviews with representatives from public sector organizations that play a role in the creation of the voters’ list and professional organizations who have articulated positions on this issue. Ultimately, this paper concludes that the preliminary list of electors provided to municipalities by the Municipal Property Assessment Corporation is inaccurate and municipalities lack sufficient resources to make the list accurate before elections. Recommendations include standardizing reporting of voter turnout, better information sharing between government agencies, tracking participation of non-resident electors and potentially shifting the responsibility for enumeration to an agency with sufficient resources and expertise to create an accurate voters’ list.
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Wilton, Paul, "Ontario Municipal Voters’ List Reform Project" (2018). MPA Major Research Papers. 185.