Voters showed up at advance polling stations across Canada in droves, and the Central Okanagan was no different.
Enduring wait times as long as two hours, the Central Okanagan–Similkameen–Nicola riding saw 13,680 voters show up while 12,661 made their way to advance polls for Kelowna–Lake Country.
Given boundary changes in the local ridings, it would be inaccurate to compare previous results to current figures, but nationwide the leap to earlier voting is significant.
The estimated number of Canadians who voted on the four advance voting days in the federal general election from Friday, Oct. 9 to Monday, Oct. 12 far outnumbered what happened in previous elections.
Elections Canada reported some 3.6 million electors voted at the advance polls in this general election, amounting to a 71 per cent increase from the 2,100,855 electors who voted in advance in the 2011 general election. This increase was due in part to an additional advance voting day on Sunday, offered for the first time.
Over 850,000 Canadians voted on Friday and over 1.2 million on Monday, representing the two busiest days of advance voting ever.
It should be noted that these are estimates. Not all polls may have yet been reported.
“Many Canadians chose to vote at advance polls in this election,” said Chief Electoral Officer of Canada Marc Mayrand.
“Having four polling days provided greater flexibility and convenience for voters.”
According to Wolf Depner, a political analyst who taught political science at UBC Okanagan, the high participation rate in advance voting won’t necessarily translate to higher overall turnout.
“It’s a bit like using the time-shifting function on your DVR and not indicative of future turnout,” said Depner, explaining it’s just likely that those who intended to vote all along, and have previously voted, showed up to earlier opportunities for convenience.
Depner added that he hasn’t seen cause to believe that voter turnout will be anything more than has previously been established. That rate hovers at around 60 per cent.
UBC political science professor Kathryn Harrison had a similar take on the figures.
“Yes there has been higher turnout in the advance polls but I don’t know whether that reflects a general shift to voting earlier or is a preview of higher turnout on election day,” said Harrison.
“I suspect a lot of it, or maybe even all of it, is because we have more advance polls and it’s become more the norm that people are voting earlier rather than seeing the advance polls as being used by someone who is going to be out of town on election day.”