Election 2015: Tight race the likely reason for long lineups at advance polls

Victoria area polling stations among the busiest during advance polls

Elections Canada estimates 3.6 million people voted during advance polls, up 71 per cent from advance polls in 2011, with Victoria ridings seeing some of the most voters in the country.

“This is in a way potentially a good problem to have, at least if you take the classic argument that the system works better if more people are weighing in,” said Dr. Jamie Lawson, associate professor in political science at the University of Victoria.

However, he adds, “the question could be raised: Are those people who are going to vote anyway and chose to do it on Thanksgiving weekend rather than on the 19th?”

The advance poll brought a shock to one Saanich couple.

Retiree David Price and his wife have lived at the same Royal Oak address since 1999 and voted in every election since then. They’ve previously received their voter registration cards in the mail but this year nothing arrived but an election card for someone at their address whom they’ve never heard of.

When they attempted to vote at an advanced poll in Royal Oak on Saturday they were told they were not registered. Through Elections Canada’s Saanichton office they discovered they are registered, but only in Quebec, where they lived 17 years ago.

“How could we get into this situation?” Price asked. “We’re off the list, yet we’ve voted faithfully every single time. We’re annoyed. We must now go through the tedious process of proving who we are.”

Greater Victoria had some of the highest turnouts for advance polls across the country, with 17,501 casting a ballot in Victoria, 16,236 in Saanich-Gulf Islands and 16,358 in Esquimalt-Saanich-Sooke.

The high numbers, however frustrating for some voters, could be a result of many things, Lawson says.

“One thing that could mean a higher turnout for both the advance polls and the regular one on the 19th is just how tight this race is and how volatile it’s been. … It’s been difficult to figure out people’s overarching pattern,” Lawson said. “It’s rare for three parties to be tied for so long in our country. It’s also the case that, because we’ve had a single government in power for 10 years now, people who disagree with the governing Conservatives are growing in their sense of frustration.”

Modern technology could be another reason for the uptick, as social media feeds on Thanksgiving weekend filled with voting “selfies” and updates.

“There have been a number of different strategies to raise the total vote and getting people to think about voting in a co-ordinated fashion,” Lawson said. “People have been going to the advance polls voting and then saying to their social network, ‘Hey guys, I voted. You should go vote too.’ … It works better if you’ve got an advanced poll to do that rather than break the news to people in the morning (of general election day).”

Convenience and the lengthy campaign period could also play a role.

“We’ve seen over the past few years, concern both within Elections Canada and beyond, about declining voter participation and that’s part of the reason we’ve seen a turn to advance polling as more than just the right to vote if you have an unavoidable obligation. It’s new to think about advance polls as just another way to vote without having to have an excuse offered.” Lawson said. “I think for people who have a choice in the matter (of when they vote) it may be a way of saying, ‘I’ve made my decision, I’m done here and no one’s going to persuade me of anything different in the next six days.’”

The numbers leave more questions than answers about what voting day will look like Oct. 19.

“There have been times when turnout election day was incompatible with the trend at the advanced polls and disappointed people. … We’ll just have to see,” he said. “Tightness of the race is maybe an even better predictor of whether we’ll have a heavy turnout. Historically it’s often been the case that a tight race draws people out.”

 

Just Posted

Saanich Volunteer Services Society volunteers head out to deliver this week’s meals to local seniors. (Megan Atkins-Baker/News Staff)
VIDEO: Weekly meal deliveries help brighten the day for Saanich seniors

Seniors are delivered nutritional meals by a group of volunteers every Wednesday

O.K. Industries is building a quarry next to Capital Regional District land, as shown in this map from the rezoning applicaiton. (Photo courtesy District of Highlands)
Millstream Quarry wins again in court against Highlands community’s appeal

Judges rule province not obligated to investigate climate change before issuing permit

Kidspace, which took over the YMCA-YWCA childcare centre at Eagle Creek Village, plans to reopen the Y’s fitness centre as the Eagle Creek Athletic Club in September. (Photo courtesy of Kidpsace)
Former Y fitness centre in View Royal aims to reopen in September

Kidspace taking over both the gym and the childcare facility at Eagle Creek Village

Tyson Muzzillo, regional manager of BC Cannabis Store, welcomes shoppers to their Uptown location, opening on June 16. (Megan Atkins-Baker/News Staff)
Government-run cannabis store opening at Saanich’s Uptown

BC Cannabis Store the first for government in Greater Victoria, 27th in province

Mural artist Paul Archer will soon begin work on a piece on the rear of a building at 100 Burnside Road West. (Gorge Tillicum Community Association)
Back of Burnside building in Saanich to feature mural of hope and positivity

Artist Paul Archer says subject will inspire memories, depict children’s future, sunshine, flowers

The border crossing on Highway 11 in Abbotsford heading south (file)
VIDEO: Western premiers call for clarity, timelines on international travel, reopening rules

Trudeau has called Thursday meeting, premiers say they expect to leave that meeting with a plan

Two Lotto Max tickets sold on Vancouver Island were winners, though nobody won the $70-million jackpot in Tuesday’s draw. (BCLC image)
Vancouver Island lottery players win $1 million and $500,000 in Lotto Max draw

$1 million ticket sold in Campbell River, $500,000 ticket sold in Nanaimo

St. Joseph's Mission site is located about six kilometres from Williams Lake First Nation. (Photo submitted)
Williams Lake First Nation to search residential school site for unmarked graves

St. Joseph’s Mission Indian Residential School operated from 1886 to 1981

Tuesday’s Lotto Max draw went unclaimed. (Photo courtesy of BCLC)
Tuesday’s Lotto Max draw went unclaimed. (Photo courtesy of BCLC)
Lotto Max jackpot goes unclaimed again

42 of the 64 Maxmillion prizes of $1 million were won, the majority were sold in Ontario

FILE - This July 6, 2017 file photo shows prescription drugs in a glass flask at the state crime lab in Taylorsville, Utah. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer, File)
Contaminants in generic drugs may cause long-term harm to DNA: B.C. researcher

Scientist says findings suggest high volume overseas facilities require strict regulation

Restaurant patrons enjoy the weather on a patio in Vancouver, B.C., on April 5, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Labour shortages, closed borders major obstacles to B.C. restaurant, tourism restarts

Industry expert says it won’t start to recover until international travellers can visit

(Black Press Media file)
Dirty money: Canadian currency the most germ-filled in the world, survey suggests

Canadian plastic currency was found to contain 209 bacterial cultures

(pixabay file shot)
B.C. ombudsperson labels youth confinement in jail ‘unsafe,’ calls for changes

Review states a maximum of 22 hours for youth, aged 12 from to 17, to be placed in solitary

Most Read