Elections B.C. will set up an advance polling station in Kelowna airport terminal that will be open to residents of any riding in the province fromMay 8 to May 11.

Vote on the fly

Kelowna's airport is the first and only airport in Canada to offer anyone passing though an opportunity to vote in provincial election.

If you are passing through Kelowna’s airport between May 8 and May 11, you can literally vote on the fly.

Kelowna International Airport has become the first, and only, airport in Canada to offer advance voting for all residents of B.C. in upcoming provincial election. General voting day is May 14.

“This is a very different event for an airport to host,” said airport director Sam Samaddar. “However, it’s an important occasion. This is a great opportunity to assist British Columbians no matter where they are from. Not only will this benefit travellers flying in and out of the airport, but we have almost 2,000 employees at the YLW campus and with residents in Quail Ridge and around the airport in Ellison, we are an ideal location for B.C. voters.”

According to Don Main, communications manager for Elections B.C.,the idea for an advance polling station at the airport came from the Kelowna-Lake Country district electoral officer Denis Duggan after Elections B.C. challenged all its electoral officers working this election to think of places where people will be during the campaign and offer opportunities to vote.

Duggan approached YLW and the airport’s marketing and media relations officer Jenelle Hynes said they did not hesitate to say yes. Other airports in B.C. were also approached but declined to have polling stations at their facilities, said Main.

He said with the voters able to cast ballots at any special voting place during the campaign, at special advance polls in ridings from May 8 to May 14 and by mail, as well as on general election day and now at Kelowna’s airport, B.C. has the most accessible voting system in Canada.

Despite that, the numbers of people casting ballots in provincial elections in B.C has been steadily declining since the 1980s, with just 51 per cent of eligible voters turning out in the last provincial election in 2009. In the late 1980, the turn out hit a high of 71 per cent

Main said part of Election B.C.’s  mandate—in addition to running the province-wide vote—is to encourage people to vote and as a result it has been heavily advertising the ability to vote early in this election.

“Ensuring British Columbians have access to voting is of utmost importance,” said B.C’s chief electoral officer Keith Archer in a news release announcing the polling station at YLW. “We know voters are busy and we look for innovative ways to make the provincial electoral process effective, efficient and accessible.

All B.C. voters can vote at YLW, or any advance voting place in the province, from  May 8 through  May 11, between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m. All B.C. voters can also vote at any general voting place in the province on election day, May 14, between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m.

All voters must provide proof of identity and their residential address to receive a ballot or to register when voting.  A list of acceptable types of identification is available from Elections BC at elections.bc.ca or 1-800-661-8683.

Voters may park in the airport’s short-term lot for up to two hours free of charge. Simply bring in the parking voucher when voting and the voucher will be validated at the polling station.