Monday, December 12, 2005

Voter turnout burnout - part 2

In the comments of my previous post, I noted that Elections Canada has voter turnout figures going back to 1867. There's lots more interesting data on their website, which is quite easy to navigate (kudos to those folks). So here's what the turnout was like in each election (I've excluded referenda) since 1867:

A few notes:

  1. I used the adjusted percentage for the 1993 election ("adjusted to account for electors who had moved or died between the enumeration for the 1992 referendum and the election of 1993, for which a separate enumeration was not carried out except in Quebec, as the 1992 electoral lists were reused")
  2. I also used the adjusted percentage for the 2000 election (similar reasons; see the footnotes of the Elections Canada table previous cited).
  3. The 2004 voter turnout figures were in a different spot.
  4. Unlike the scanned graph in my previous post, the graph above uses a linear time scale.
I leave my gentle readers to interpret the graph (it's bedtime for me). One final note: I made the graph using my own custom R program (hooray for R!). If you have any suggestions on how to improve the graph, I'd be interested in hearing them.

Update (17Dec2005): I've redrawn the figure with the elections numbered and the dates and turnouts listed below. To see the graph properly, click on it to see the higher resolution version. (You'll need to click again to convince your browser to show the full-size image.)
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Anonymous sean s. said...

It is too difficult to figure out what the turnout was in any particular election because the big elections are held every 4 years, but your horizontal scale is 10 years.

Why not make the scale 8 years with some with tick marks every 4?

The year labels could also be rotated and turned vertically like so


Or is that a no-no?

7:19 PM, December 14, 2005  
Blogger Nick Barrowman said...

Sean, thanks for your comments. I think there are no absolute rules for these things, and it's always good to consider alternatives.

If Canadian elections were held at regular intervals like in the U.S., it would make the graphing much easier! Digressing a little, I would favour that myself, because I think that it removes some uncertainty from the whole system (as a statistician, I think of uncertainty as the enemy). As it happens, yesterday legislation was passed in Ontario establishing 4-year fixed intervals between provincial elections.

But for the Canadian national voter turnout data, it's quite hard to label the election dates. One approach is to put little numbers inside each little circle, and then have a legend identifying the corresponding dates. But two of the elections were really close together: June 18th 1962 and April 8th 1963. They might have to be dealt with in a special way.

I agree that labeling the years like


lets you put far more date labels on the horizontal axis. But I have two objections:
1. The axis looks cluttered with too many labels, and
2. I like to keep numbers and text in their normal orientation.

Still, I take your point about the dates. I may have another go at this graph ...

8:33 PM, December 14, 2005  

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