In the 2014 Hamilton Municipal election, predictably, based on past experience; not a single incumbent councillor came close to defeat. The new Mayor won by 10 percent over his nearest opponent. No School Board member seeking re-election was denied with the exception of one Separate School trustee. Oh, and the voter turnout was 34 percent—124,000 electors participating and almost a quarter of a million who did not. What is the voting public to conclude for this result? Is it a blanket endorsement of the status quo? Can it in any way be interpreted as a vote for change? Should we ignore the opinions of those who did not vote, even though they collectively pay more taxes than those who did vote? McMaster Political Science Professor Henry Jacek says the low turnout crosses all socio-economic lines. “Some of the people I talk to say they didn’t feel they had the information they needed to make the right decision.” He says Fred Eisenberger won this time despite his third place finish in 2010 in part because of what he terms voter myopia. “In political science it is understood that after about 11 months voters can’t remember much about why they voted or didn’t vote for somebody,” he observed.
The fact is that in Hamilton, the number of votes cast compared to the number of eligible voters ranged from 28 percent (Tom Jackson in Ward 6) to just 9 percent for Doug Conley in the hotly contested Ward 9 race. Fred Eisenberger, while easily outdistancing his opponents in fact was supported by 13.4 percent of eligible voters.