Greater Victoria voters flock to advanced polls

Greater Victoria had the best turnout in advanced polling among all electoral districts in B.C.

Preliminary estimates released Tuesday show advanced voting numbers spiked 34.5 per cent nationwide, compared to numbers from the 2008 federal election.

An estimated 11,330 Saanich-Gulf Islands voters have already cast their ballots. That’s a 50 per cent increase over early voting in 2008.

The Esquimalt-Juan de Fuca riding saw an 188 per cent increase in advanced polling over 2008 turnout numbers, with an estimated 10,097 people voting on April 22, 23 and 25.

In Victoria, an estimated 9,865 people showed up at advanced polls, accounting for a 40 per cent jump from 2008.

“This is a great number, but we can’t read too much into it,” said Susan Friend of Elections Canada. “It’s not necessarily an indicator of what’s going to happen on Election Day (Monday, May 2).”

She says there are a number of reasons voter turnout may have been so high, including the fact that it was a holiday weekend (Good Friday and Easter Monday saw the two busiest advanced polling days ever), the weather was nice and the possibility there may be playoff hockey taking place on election night.

“Elections Canada would be very pleased if we did see this kind of increase at the polls on Monday, but advanced poll turnout doesn’t necessarily translate into that,” Friend said.

Political science professor Dennis Pilon at the University of Victoria agrees, adding that advanced polling restrictions have changed since previous election years.

“It used to be that you had to have a reason to use advanced polling, now you don’t. This could just be voters who would’ve voted by regular means are deciding to use this early opportunity,” he said.

“It doesn’t necessarily mean we’re getting any more voters – we could still see voter turnout go down on Election Day.”

kslavin@saanichnews.com

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