Voter turnout in Saskatchewan : how important are civic education and community participation?
Voter participation among Saskatchewan’s citizens has decreased in both federal and provincial elections, especially in the past decade or so, and especially among 18-24 year olds. Provincially, turnout has fallen almost 20 percentage points over a four-year period. Saskatchewan voter turnout in federal elections has fallen almost 15 percentage points in a similar time period. The purpose of this thesis is to uncover potential factors that might help to explain why turnout has decreased so markedly. Though a number of factors exist to explain why fewer citizens are participating on election day, this thesis has worked to seek out the explanation in two forms. First, taking into account the civic literacy theory of Henry Milner, this thesis has examined Saskatchewan’s junior and senior high school curricula in an effort to find changes in the way civics has been taught. Marked changes have iv been found, and differences in the prescribed teaching of civics throughout the years point to the possibility that the way in which civics is taught to students may have an effect on whether they feel a duty or obligation to vote. Second, this thesis has, following the social capital theory of Robert Putnam, concluded through a brief survey of membership numbers in a small number of community and volunteer organizations as well as church attendance and volunteer levels that community involvement may also be a factor in deciding whether to vote. This thesis has concluded that more, duty-oriented civic education is needed in Saskatchewan’s junior and senior high schools in order to ensure that students leaving the education system feel an obligation to participate on election day and in the community more than they are presently.
DegreeMaster of Arts (M.A.)
SupervisorCourtney, John C.
Copyright DateAugust 2004