MPA Major Research Papers

Date of Award


Degree Type

Major Research Paper

Degree Name

Master of Public Administration


Political Science


Cameron Anderson

Geographical Areas

Toronto, Windsor, Oakville, Mississauga, Haldimand, Norfolk, Stratford, Perth-Wellington


Local governments touch citizens’ lives every day. They build and repair the roads we drive on. They pick up our garbage and recycling that we place on our curbs. They build and maintain green space and ensure water comes from our taps. Each day a citizen in a municipality relies on a feature of their local government works. In contrast, our federal government is remote. They deal with national issues such as the environment, defence, and fisheries. They work on global, not local, agreements and relationships with other national governments. Yes, they set out income tax and regulations, but for the average citizen, their decisions and actions do not impact their everyday life. For example, they do not clear the trash away, and they do not cut the grass. Despite local government having more direct impacts on everyday citizens' lives, turnout for national elections is significantly higher than local elections. Why is it that when it comes to the ballot box, citizens, in more significant numbers, vote for governments more remote from their daily lives? Why does the gap exist? Further, is the turnout gap consistent across regions? Do we see a similar gap in urban communities, as we do rural or suburban? Does the size of the municipality matter? Does the turnout gap have to do with the issues in the municipality? The number of candidates? The structure of the council? The voting system? Voting hours and advance poll availability? What role does the make-up of the community have to play in creating this turnout gap? Is there a difference between areas with high newcomer rates versus established communities? Perhaps it is not just the make-up of the electorate that changes participation in it that would establish the size of the gap. This study will review these various factors and their impact on voter turnout. This study will further discuss how Local government may benefit from these findings to understand and possibly address voter turnout gap.