Major Papers


voter turnout, Canadian federal politics, compulsory vote, voting reform


This Major Research Paper analyses the decline of voter turnout in Canadian federal elections since 1988, looking at some of the reasoning for this and discussing some solutions for the growth of turnout in the future. As well as analyzing the issue of youth voting in particular, the paper discusses several possibilities to fix the system, utilising case study to find concepts that worked elsewhere.

Specifically, the extension of the minimum voting age to 16 years old, changes to the voting system (in terms of moving away from First Past The Post) and mandatory voting laws are discussed as possible remedies to the issue. The paper demonstrates how these concepts have worked in countries analogous to Canada and ideas for how they might be applied here.

The paper builds on the work of many political scientists, most prominently Henry Milner, to marry discussions on how to improve democracy with discussions on how we engage potential voters, under the thought process that the answers should largely be the same: we do so by making the system more representative of the will of all Canadians of voting age. There is no one way of doing this, but by applying several measures that have worked when applied to the most analogous cases we can find, we can have the best chance of revitalising Canada’s democracy for this generation and all the generations after.

Canadian democracy is not dead. We are not in a crisis. That is precisely why now is the proper time to fix this problem, to put a jolt, as it were, into the system so that we can make changes before the problem gets so big that it cannot be ignored. With that, I present The Democracy Defibrillator.

Primary Advisor

Dr. Stephen Brooks

Program Reader

Dr. Tom Najem

Degree Name

Master of Arts


Political Science

Document Type

Major Research Paper

Convocation Year