AMHERST – Voter apathy continues to rise in Amherst as far fewer ballots were cast in Saturday’s municipal election.
Kim Jones, the town’s chief returning officer, said voter turnout was only 39 per cent with just over 2,900 votes being cast for the two mayoral and nine council candidates.
“This was my fifth election in Amherst and this election continues a trend that started before I started here,” Jones said. “Four years ago, voter turnout was only about 50 per cent and it wasn’t much higher before that.”
Jones is not sure why voters are not participating in municipal elections, but said it’s something that’s happening in other municipalities.
“We’re not alone in this, other towns are seeing similar trends,” Jones said.
Mayor Robert Small said he was disappointed more votes weren’t cast in the election and suggested the new council will have to take a long look at other methods of voting before the next election in 2016.
“We talked about electronic voting before this election but decided to wait to get more information and to see how it worked elsewhere,” the mayor said. “It’s my understanding that Truro had a really good turnout by using evoting.”
Earlier this year, Jones was asked by council to investigate evoting. She recommended using evoting as an alternative to the advance polls, but council expressed concern with the potential for electoral fraud and the added cost of running the election as reasons for not proceeding.
Jones said she will await direction from council on taking another look at evoting. Jones said that while Truro’s experiment was successful, the numbers didn’t appear to be as solid in Halifax.
Elsewhere in the county, voter participation was higher. In Parrsboro, there was a 68 per cent voter turnout, while the number in Oxford was around 61 per cent and 50 per cent in Springhill.
Voter numbers varied in the Municipality of Cumberland. In District 9, where newcomer Mike McLellan defeated incumbent John Reid, there was a 77.9 per cent turnout.
The lowest was in District 5, where Lynne Welton defeated Kathy Langille. Only 32 per cent voted there. Fifty-eight per cent voted in District 3, 45 per cent voted in District 1, 43 per cent voted in District 6 and 40 per cent voted in District 7.
Overall voter turnout in the municipality was about 48 per cent.