Advance polls experience increase in voters in municipal election

Advance polls experience increase in voters in municipal election

WATCH: Voting day is this Saturday for municipal elections. The lineups for advance voting are getting longer every campaign. As Mary Griffin reports, the emphasis is on making it easier to vote in order to get those voters out.

An advance polling station at UVic’s Student Union Building was open to residents of three municipalities on Wednesday.

Voters from Saanich could enter on the right while Oak Bay and Victoria were to the left.

Student Astra Lund-Phillips is happy the polling station is at the school so she could vote early.

“It’s really convenient. I have a conference that I’m going to this weekend, so I pretty much had to, I guess, and then just having it on campus, is really nice, yeah,” Lund-Phillips said.

Lund-Phillips and her friends all voted Wednesday. It’s part of a growing trend in municipal politics.  Saanich Returning Elections Officer Colin Green said there was a steady stream of advance voters through the doors.

“Turnout has been a good turnout, and very steady. To this point in the day, we’re just after quarter past twelve, and we’ve had 290 people come through to this point,” Green said.

The number of days available for advance polling is increasing. And the convenience appears to be a hit with voters casting ballots in Victoria according to Chief Electoral Officer Chris Coates.

“So far, the number of folks coming out to vote are greater, quite significantly, than in 2014, the last local election,” Coates said.

There is a corresponding steady increase in the overall number of people voting in municipal elections. According to Elections BC in 2008, only 28 per cent of eligible voters cast a ballot in Victoria. That jumped to 39 per cent in 2014.  In Saanich, only 21 per cent of eligible voters came out in 2008, but by 2014, that jumped to 34 per cent.  And Oak Bay experienced an uptick in numbers from 37 per cent in 200, to 44 per cent in 2014.

“Certainly the opportunity is there, so it’s easier for people to come out and vote. Somewhere close, rather than, I can’t be bothered going downtown, or to city hall. On that basis, yeah, I think it does make it easier,” Green said.

Making it easier translates into more young, first-time voters, including UVic student Ardis Mellor-Liang.

“It was easy.  It was fast-tracked. And I’m glad there was the advance polling because I would not have been able to do it this weekend because I’m going away.”

Mary GriffinMary Griffin

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