Experts say voter fatigue, non-competitive races and the non-partisan nature of local elections likely contributed to low turnout in many Ontario communities that voted for their municipal governments.
Early numbers from the Association of Municipalities of Ontario show 36 per cent turnout across the 301 of 444 municipalities that held local elections Monday night.
Brampton and Mississauga saw less than 25 per cent of eligible voters come out to re-elect incumbents, while Ottawa saw a little less than half of eligible voters – 44 per cent – cast ballots in an open race for a new mayor.
University of Windsor political scientist Lydia Miljan says municipal elections generally see lower turnout as voters have limited media coverage to look to and no political parties to guide their decisions.
She says voters in the province may also be fatigued after a provincial election in June and a federal election last fall.
University of Toronto political scientist Renan Levine says high-profile races in place like Toronto – which saw nearly 40 per cent voter turnout – and Mississauga were not seen as competitive and voters might have had a hard time deciding who to support even in communities with open races.