Voter turnout in Norfolk steady at 41%


Norfolk barely moved the nee­dle on voter par­tic­i­pa­tion in the Oct. 22 mu­nic­i­pal elec­tion. The num­ber of peo­ple who voted in the mayor’s race in­creased by 400 over the 2014 vote.

How­ever, as a pro­por­tion of el­i­gi­ble vot­ers, the per­cent­age of Norfolk res­i­dents who cast a bal­lot in the mayor’s race last Mon­day was down com­pared to 2014.

Folkin’ Vote – the non-par­ti­san group that came to­gether to in­crease cit­i­zens’ en­gage­ment with the mu­nic­i­pal elec­tion – was dis­ap­pointed with the out­come.

How­ever, in­creas­ing the gross num­ber of vot­ers was just one of Folkin’ Votes’ ob­jec­tives.

The group also ed­u­cated the pub­lic on the is­sues, helped stage sev­eral well-at­tended can­di­dates meet­ings, and live-streamed these meet­ings as well as the elec­tion night tab­u­la­tion at the Sim­coe Re­cre­ation Cen­tre.

“Voter turnout didn’t re­ally in­crease at all and we found that a lit­tle dis­ap­point­ing,” says Meika Matthews of Port Dover, one of the or­ga­niz­ers of the Folkin’ Vote ini­tia­tive.

“We thought turnout would be higher with the feed­back we were get­ting. That sort of feed­back was re­ally re­ward­ing for us. But we set out to do what we set out to do. We made the elec­tion more ac­ces­si­ble and put the is­sues on so­cial me­dia and on peo­ple’s cell phones.”

There were mea­sur­able suc­cesses along the way, in­clud­ing 10,000 views of Folkin’ Vote’s live and recorded all-can­di­dates events on the In­ter­net. Dur­ing the all-can­di­dates night in Port Dover on Oct. 3, to­tal view­er­ship reached the 600 mark.

All told, Matthews says Folkin’ Vote’s first foray into mu­nic­i­pal pol­i­tics was a pos­i­tive one. She sus­pects the mo­men­tum gained will carry the group for­ward into the fu­ture.

“I think that en­thu­si­asm is go­ing to carry over,” Matthews said. “We’re call­ing it an over­all suc­cess. I have a feel­ing next mu­nic­i­pal elec­tion that you will see us again.”

A break­down of the Oct. 22 vote re­veals some im­por­tant things about this elec­tion.

For one, sup­port for may­oral win­ner Kristal Chopp, of Port Dover, was broad-based. Chopp col­lected the most votes of all may­oral can­di­dates at 15 of 19 polls.

In­cum­bent Char­lie Luke pre­vailed at the poll at the Teeter­ville fire hall, the Royal Cana­dian Le­gion in Water­ford, the ad­vanced poll at the Water­ford Le­gion on Oct. 6, and the in­sti­tu­tional polls at area se­niors homes.

Chopp won the rest. On elec­tion day, Chopp topped Luke 1,016 -526 in Port Rowan; 317-263 in Court­land; 466-278 in Lang­ton; 615- 600 in Delhi; 697- 476 in Vit­to­ria; 240-243 in Lyn­nville; 2,030-1,846 in Sim­coe; and 1,8801,161 in Port Dover.

The re­sults of the ad­vanced polls are es­pe­cially in­sight­ful be­cause they sug­gest Norfolk had set­tled on change well be­fore elec­tion day it­self. Chopp won ad­vanced polls in St. Wil­liams on Oct. 4 and Oct. 6, Sim­coe on Oct. 4, Port Dover on Oct. 4 and Oct. 10, Delhi on Oct. 6, Sim­coe on Oct. 6 and Oct. 10, and Delhi on Oct. 10.

All told, Chopp col­lected 10,838 votes to Luke’s 8,646. May­oral can­di­date Rus­sell Cole­brook, of Ren­ton, was aim­ing for 1,000 votes but had to set­tle for 604.

The may­oral race in 2014 was also hotly con­tested. For­mer Sim­coe Coun. Luke de­feated in­cum­bent Den­nis Travale by a mar­gin of 10,644 to 8,166. Of the 47,513 peo­ple el­i­gi­ble to vote in Norfolk four years ago, 41.7 per cent cast a bal­lot for mayor.

In com­par­i­son, 48,696 were el­i­gi­ble to vote for mayor in Norfolk this month. The 20,222 who cast a bal­lot rep­re­sent a turnout of 41.3 per cent.

As for the coun­cil­lor can­di­dates, there were wide vari­a­tions in the par­tic­i­pa­tion rate from ward to ward. Re­sults from the Oct. 22 elec­tion break down as fol­lows:

• 35.7 per cent of the 6,034 elec­tors in Port Rowan-area Ward 1 voted in this elec­tion. New­comer Tom Mass­chaele de­feated six other can­di­dates with 547 of the 2,109 bal­lots cast. Voter turnout in Ward 1 in 2014 was 44.2 per cent.

• 26.9 per cent of the 5,932 elec­tors in Lang­ton-area Ward 2 voted in this elec­tion. In­cum­bent Coun. Roger Gey­sens de­feated two other chal­lengers with 720 of the 1,578 bal­lots cast. Voter turnout in Ward 2 in 2014 was 26.6 per cent.

• 38.2 per cent of the 5,987 elec­tors in Delhi-area Ward 3 voted in this elec­tion. In­cum­bent Mike Colum­bus fended off four chal­lengers with 1,249 of 2,273 bal­lots cast. Voter turnout in Ward 3 in 2014 was 38.7 per cent.

• 37.9 per cent of the 5,533 elec­tors in Wind­ham- area Ward 4 voted in this elec­tion. New­comer Chris Van Paassen de­feated two other can­di­dates with 1,089 of 2,074 bal­lots cast. Voter turnout in Ward 4 in 2014 was 35.1 per cent.

• 45.9 per cent of the 11,491 elec­tors in Sim­coe-area Ward 5 voted in this elec­tion. Win­ners Ian Rab­bitts and Ryan Tay­lor – both new­com­ers – col­lected 3,007 and 1,616 votes re­spec­tively from the 9,085 bal­lots cast. Voter turnout in Ward 5 in 2014 was 48.4 per cent.

• Turnout in Port Dover-area Ward 6 was im­pres­sive com­pared to the rest of the county. 61.6 per cent of the 7,165 elec­tors in Ward 6 voted in this elec­tion. New­comer Amy Martin topped a field of eight can­di­dates with 2,242 votes of the 4,396 bal­lots cast. Voter turnout in Ward 6 in 2014 was 51.7 per cent.

• 35 per cent of the 6,827 elec­tors in Water­ford- area Ward 7 voted in this elec­tion. New­comer Kim Huff­man de­feated chal­lenger Jean Mont­gomery with 1,197 of 2,353 bal­lots cast. Voter turnout in Ward 7 in 2014 was 36.8 per cent.

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