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Voter turnout up as NWT opts for change

A man goes to vote at NUP, the downtown polling station on Oct. 1. Brett McGarry / NNSL photo
A man approaches the polling station at NUP Oct. 1. The election saw increases in many constituencies in Yellowknife and across the territory.
Brett McGarry / NNSL photo

The Oct. 1 vote saw upsets in constituencies across the territory that ousted several incumbents and introduced a record nine women and 11 new MLAs into the legislative assembly.

It is clear that voters wanted change and they came out in relatively large numbers, improving turnout in several constituencies over past elections. Elections NWT released the unofficial polling numbers on Wednesday.

Unofficial turnout numbers for Tuesday's territorial election.
Graph courtesy of Elections NWT

This year's election saw an unofficial 54 per cent turnout across the territory, a 10 per cent increase from the last election. This year's results were also higher than the 2011 election, which saw 48 per cent of registered voters turn out.

The best turnout in the territory took place in Nunakput, which saw 71 per cent of registered voters cast a ballot. That's actually less than the 76 per cent turnout recorded in 2015.

Voters there opted to boot out incumbent Herbert Nakimayak and elect former speaker Jackie Jacobson.

Yellowknife North led all districts in the capital with 54 per cent turnout, 10 per cent more than in 2015. Incumbent Cory Vanthuyne was knocked out of his seat by Rylund Johnson. Yk North saw a 10 per cent increase from 2015.

The lowest turnout recorded anywhere in the NWT was Great Slave, a battle of the newcomers that saw just 43 per cent of voters send Katrina Nokleby to the legislature. It was still a significant 16 per cent increase over 2015.

On the flip side, Kam Lake improved upon a 25 per cent turnout in 2015 to 48 per cent this year.

An Elections NWT official confirmed "official" statistics will be released to the public before Oct. 24, when the 19th Legislative Assembly is sworn in.

Close races in Frame Lake and Yellowknife North have triggered judicial recounts which should be completed "around Monday," according to Nicole Latour, chief electoral officer.

Once a recount is complete, orientation for MLAs will get underway Oct. 8 leading up to a vote for cabinet and the Premier which will also take place Oct. 24.