VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – With many Metro Vancouver mayors and councillors opting out of another term, it seems many voters can’t wait to decide who gets to fill their seats.
Advance voting numbers are up in almost every municipality, even in Vancouver, where voters have to sort through a list of 158 candidates across four different races.
Over 36,000 votes have been cast in the first seven days of advance voting, up about 23 per cent compared to 2014.
“Many of our incumbents are not running again, and there’s a lot of concern out there about city issues such as housing,” says Rosemary Hagiwara, Vancouver’s Chief Election Officer. “This could mean that the voters maybe feel more compelled to vote because they feel there’s a lot at stake.”
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Vancouver has increased the number of advance voting dates and locations as part of its goal of achieving at least 60 per cent voter turnout by 2025.
In Burnaby, 10,139 people cast ballots across three days of advance polling, up about 45 per cent.
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Surrey’s advance voter turnout nearly doubled to 22,185 across four days. Richmond saw 8,901 ballots cast; a 36 per cent increase.
Coquitlam is so far bucking the trend: 2,604 votes have been cast in the first two days of advance polling compared to 2,621 during the same period in 2014.
On Vancouver Island, advance voter turnout numbers are all but guaranteed to exceed those from 2014 in both Victoria and Saanich.
But, could higher advance voting numbers mean better turnout this election? Not necessarily, that’s according to a political science associate professor at Fraser Valley University.
Hamish Telford says municipal elections tend to have lower turnout.
“At the provincial level in B.C. we’re hovering at around just over 50 per cent, 30 per cent at the municipal level,” he adds. “So to get up to 60 per cent, get it up to the same level as the federal level I think that’s a pretty tall order.”
Even though advance voting numbers are up, Telford says numbers on election day could be really low.
“Parties and candidates have really been advocating early voting over the last number of years and it seems that that has now filtered down to the municipal level as well, but that may not lead to a higher voter turnout in the end, it might just be the same pool of voters spreading their votes out over multiple days,” Telford says.
General election day is on Oct. 20th.