Elections B.C. says compared to past byelections, the electoral district of Nanaimo saw a strong turnout of voters who took part in advanced polling in the provincial byelection.
Figures from the elections office show 9,322 votes were cast over six days of advanced polling from Jan. 22 to Jan. 27, or 20.6 per cent of the total 45,359 registered voters that will decide Nanaimo’s next MLA in the Jan. 30 byelection.
Rebecca Penz of Elections B.C. says advanced voting in the byelection outpaced early votes cast in the 2017 provincial election, which saw 18 per cent turnout.
The number is considered strong since byelections generally generate lower turnout levels than provincial elections.
Penz says advanced polling is trending up as voters look for more convenient options to cast their votes.
Early voters also indicated the significance of the Nanaimo byelection is giving them added motivation to go to the polls, with the outcome possibly shifting the balance of power in the B.C. legislature.
The slim NDP-Green minority government holds 43 seats, one more than the Liberals.
A Liberal victory would likely lead to an early general election.
Tuesday is the final day for the six byelection candidates to campaign in what is expected to be a hotly contested race Wednesday.
Despite a Mainstreet Research poll Monday showing a more than eight-point lead for Liberal candidate Tony Harris over the NDP’s Sheila Malcolmson, the candidates say they will campaign until the bitter end for all the votes they can get.
“It’s interesting for sure, but at the end of the day I don’t think we can put a lot of credit in (the poll),” Harris said.
“The only poll that matters is election day. The Mainstreet poll doesn’t reflect what we’re hearing on the ground,” Malcolmson said.
Green Party candidate Michele Ney added, “You know what, it’s not only the whole province. In my opinion its the whole blinking country that is watching this. This is exciting.”
The seat is up for grabs since Leonard Krog stepped down as Nanaimo MLA following his victory as Nanaimo mayor in October.
Krog held the seat for the NDP since 2005, and the NDP has won the Nanaimo riding in 13 of the last 15 provincial elections.
Follow byelection results and reaction in special election coverage Wednesday night on CHEK, hosted by Ben O’Hara-Byrne, starting at 8 p.m.