Voter turnout steadily on the rise in some Island communities

Voter turnout steadily on the rise in some Island communities

WATCH: Voter turnout in civic elections has historically been low, but there may be a change in the works. Ceilidh Millar reports. 

This year’s civic election was marked by victories of note and long line-ups to vote.

“Democracy broke our voting system today,” Victoria Mayor-Elect Lisa Helps said with a laugh during her victory speech.

In both Victoria and Saanich, some polling stations reported waits of more than an hour which left many voters questioning why.

“As I drove by, I found huge lines in Saanich,” said one person we spoke with. ” Unfortunately I had to circle back later in the day to vote.”

The Chief Electoral Office for the City of Victoria explained that the voting system has remained the same since the previous election in 2014.

Each polling station is equipped with one electronic ballet reader that can add a few minutes to voters’ wait time.

As with every election, they say they’ll be “reviewing the process” but noted that this year’s voter turnout was the highest in recent history.

According to data from Civic Info BC, 45 per cent of eligible voters cast ballots in Victoria compared to a 39 per cent turnout in 2014.

In Saanich, there was a 38 percent voter turnout compared to 34 per cent turnout in the previous election.

Turnout in Langford dropped to 18 per cent compared to 21 per cent in 2014.

However, Oak Bay saw an increase of 10 percent to 54 per cent turnout compared to 44 per cent in 2014.

Voter turnout numbers varied across the Island.

“In the last election we had just over 6,000 people vote and this time we had over 7,000 people vote and that’s just for the mayor’s race,” said Courtenay Mayor-Elect Bob Wells.

“I hope the trend is in the right direction,” explained Port Alberni Mayor-elect Sharie Minions. “I think, if nothing else, we’ve really started a conversation in this election and people were excited to come out and have their say.”

Historically municipal elections have seen record-low turnouts compared to provincial and federal elections.

A steady increase over the years could be a sign of growing demand on the democratic system.

Ceilidh MillarCeilidh Millar

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