Advance polls see steady turnout

Unsure if voters are more engaged or because advanced polling stations have less restrictions

Advance polls for today’s (Nov. 19) municipal election might suggest a slight increase in voter participation can be expected compared to the 2008 municipal election.

The two advance polls on Nov. 9 and Nov. 16 at Bowen Park Complex saw 1,663 Nanaimo voters cast ballots. In 2008, 1,387 people took advantage of advanced polls, for a 17 per cent differential.

Joan Harrison, chief election officer for the City of Nanaimo, said an increase in use of advance polls could signify better overall participation, or that more people are simply taking advantage of them for convenience.

“It’s hard to say,” she said. “It may be that more people are aware that they can vote at an advance voting opportunity even if they would have ben able to vote on General Voting Day. The legislation used to require you to sign a declaration stating that you were unable to vote on General Voting day if you wanted to vote at an advance voting opportunity.”

In 2008, 32 per cent of eligible voters cast a total of 19,663 ballots in the general election, down slightly from the 2005 election total of 20,868.

If the advance poll totals do reflect overall voter turnout, Nanaimo can expect to see about 23,000 ballots cast, the highest amount in the past four civic elections.

There are 61,860 eligible voters in Nanaimo.

Nine people will be elected for city council today – eight councillors and one mayor – to oversee the city’s $142-million budget supplied mostly by taxpayers.

Nine people will also be elected to the Nanaimo school board, while Lantzville elects six councillors and a mayor.

Check our website for City of Nanaimo results Saturday night, and full election coverage and reaction in our Tuesday (Nov. 22) print edition.