Advance voting numbers up across B.C., Central Okanagan

Elections BC released its advance voting numbers and the results are impressive.

British Columbians took advantage of six days of advance polls, far exceeding early voting numbers from previous elections.

According to Elections BC, 614,389 of an eligible 3,156,991 eligible voters cast a ballot in advance polls.

In 2009 there were 290,220 voters who showed up to vote in advance of the actual election. The following election, in 2013 366,558 voted early.

Locally the proportion of advance voters mirrored the province’s numbers, with 28,608 of an eligible 139,213 Central Okanagan residents placing an advance vote in the provincial election.

In individual ridings, Kelowna-Lake Country saw 9,184 of an eligible 46,477 voters turn out over the six days of advance polling. Kelowna-Mission had 9,535 of 45,884 and Kelowna West had 9,889 of 46,852.

Although advance voting participation appears to be up, it doesn’t indicate what’s to come, said Hamish Telford, a professor of political science at the University of the Fraser Valley.

“Political parties over the last decade have made a concerted effort to push people toward advance polls,” he said. “A big get-out-the-vote effort has been made in campaigning.”

Telford explained that party members contact their supporters in advance of the actual election and prompt them to vote. Although they can’t guarantee how they vote, he said, knowing a potential supporter has gone to the polls before election days mean they can be crossed off the call list come election day.

And that’s pretty much all that happens.

“We speculated a few years ago when we saw this rise in advance polling that it would lead to higher voter turnout, but it was actually lower,” said Telford.

More than 1.6 million people voted in the BC Elections on May 14. 2013 , but despite being slightly higher than the 2009 turnout, it is still a lower turnout than many hoped for.

According to data provided by Elections BC, roughly 50 to 52 per cent of eligible voters cast a ballot in each riding.