Election 2014: Record-breaking turnout for Penticton advance polls

Attendance numbers from the 2014 Election advance polls held this week have broken the record.

Warren Scott registers to vote at the advance polling station with election workers Connie McGinn (left) and Debie DeLeeuw at Cherry Lane Shopping Centre Nov. 6. Two advance polls took place this week including one at city hall in which 746 people cast ballots

Warren Scott registers to vote at the advance polling station with election workers Connie McGinn (left) and Debie DeLeeuw at Cherry Lane Shopping Centre Nov. 6. Two advance polls took place this week including one at city hall in which 746 people cast ballots

Penticton voters set a new record this week for turnout to the city’s advance polls.

On the first day alone of advance polls, nearly as many Penticton voters cast their ballots as both advance polls for the 2011 municipal election. A total of 746 ballots were cast on Nov. 5 at city hall, and another 1,147 turned out Nov. 6 for the advance poll at Cherry Lane Shopping Centre.

Overall, that adds up to 1,893 votes cast over the two days, more than double the 790 votes cast in 2011.

The Local Government Act now allows all citizens to vote during advance polls should they choose, so whether the turnout will translate into more voters on election day, Nov. 15, is open to question.

According to political scientist Wolfgang Depner, the high turnout at the advance polls is likely indicative of a greater interest in this year’s election, though he cautions that people who vote at advance polls tend to be those that would have voted on the regular election day. The margin of new people voting in advance may not be large enough to push the overall share of the vote beyond the previous total.

“Ultimately, I would argue that we can only tell whether interest was higher after the vote, unless we somehow manage to track people who were non-voters in 2011, but have suddenly taken to politics,” said Depner.

Mail ballot voting is available for those persons who qualify as electors, who have a physical disability, illness or injury that affects their ability to vote at another voting opportunity or persons who expect to be absent from the municipality on general voting day and at the times of all advance voting opportunities. Mail ballots must be received by the Chief Election Officer before the close of voting on general voting day. Please contact Elections Penticton for particulars on mail ballot voting.

The 2014 general election is being held to elect one mayor, six councillors and four school board trustees for the 2014-2018 term. General voting day is Saturday, Nov. 15 between the hours of 8 a.m. and 8 p.m. at the Penticton Trade and Convention Centre, 273 Power St.

Contact Elections Penticton at 250-490-2400 or visit www.penticton.ca/elections for more information.