Central Okanagan residents take advantage of advance polling options

Voters turned out in force for the first day of voting

*Updated Tuesday 6 a.m. to reflect Sunday numbers

The trend of more people voting before election day is growing.

Around 11,000 Central Okanagan residents turned out Saturday and Sunday to place an advance vote in the 2017 provincial election.

According to Elections BC, Kelowna-Lake Country saw 3,772 of an eligible 46,477 voters turn out. Kelowna-Mission had 3,479 of 45,884 and Kelowna West had 3,749 of 46,852.

Penticton, which covers Peachland, saw 4,029 of 43,980 voting.

Across the province 231,034 of an eligible 3,156,991 voters cast a ballot on the first day of advance polls.

It’s a significant figure when stacked up against the total advanced polling numbers of the last two elections.

Elections BC reports that 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.

Although advance polling 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.

While polling stations may not offer any insight into what’s to come, Telford has a few ideas.

“My own hypothesis is that the presence of the Greens in this election, puts the NDP for the first time ever in the middle of the political spectrum, that might make the NDP less scary to moderate liberals,” he said, adding that it could see Liberals lose some of their support. If that’s the case, it’s the NDP that will benefit most.

Telford added that it’s hard to say, because the Greens have never had such a high profile in a provincial election and he attributes that to BC Green Party Leader Andrew Weaver.

“Having a member in the legislature, he’s kept them on the map for the last four years,” he said.

“He has done well as a provincial leader the same way that Elisazbeth May has done for the federal party,” he said.

There’s just a week until the election, and there are six more days of advance polls.

How to vote early

All advance polling stations will be open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. and voters can cast their ballots at any advance voting location. All locations are wheelchair accessible.

Voters must show identification to cast a ballot—both at advance polls and on general election day, and that can include a B.C. drivers licence, B.C. Identification Card or B.C. Services Card (all with a photos) or a Certificate of Indian Status.

An alternative is to show two pieces of identification, both with your name on them and at least one with your current address on it. Examples of documents that will be accepted include government-issued documents such as CareCards, both certificates, passports, citizenship certificates and B.C. Services Cards, along with non-government documents with your address printed on them such as your “where to vote” card, utility bills and even a bus pass.

Voters without any identification can have a registered voter vouch for them at the poll.

For a full list acceptable documents, and information about where to vote, how to vote and other election-related issues, go to the Elections BC website at electionsbc.ca.