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EDITORIAL: Election marked by apathy and low turnout

opinion editorial stock

It was an election many Canadians voiced their opposition to - in the midst of a pandemic, with drought plaguing the agriculture sector in the west and BC fires raging.

And it took the country back to October 2019.

While there were some shakedowns in a few ridings, there was virtually no change in seats in the House of Commons following the Sept. 20 federal election, an exercise that cost Canadians $610 million to form essentially the same government that was dissolved in August.

Voter turnout was also down by an estimated eight per cent from 2019. Across the Foothills, about 61,600 votes were cast compared to 65,881 in 2019.

Many people opted not to vote due to COVID restrictions, or simply from apathy or disenchantment.

In the weeks leading up to the election, opinions ranged from staunch supporters to those who had lost faith in their party.

Foothills MP John Barlow may have taken the majority in this election, but the other parties on the ballot - particularly NDP candidate Michelle Traxel and PPC candidate Dan Hunter - made significant headway for their parties with numbers far higher than in 2019. Traxel brought in nearly double the number of NDP votes, and the number of PPC votes was tripled. Josh Wylie, the Maverick Party's first Foothills candidate, took 2,180 votes.

Numbers for the so-called fringe parties dropped Barlow's take by about 13 per cent, with more votes spread among the NDP, PPC and Liberal parties than the last election.

Even with six choices on the ballot, some people were still unsatisfied.

One Okotoks voter proudly marked an 'X' beside a handwritten "Kanye West" at the polling station, snapping a photo of his ballot for the benefit of social media.

Others opted out completely.

It was a common theme across the country, perhaps because voters assumed there would be no change in the outcome, or maybe due to restrictions at polling stations.

Maybe Canadians are losing faith in democracy, or maybe the federal election was another costly victim of COVID.