Vancouver residents exercised their right to vote on Saturday, resulting in the city’s highest turnout for a municipal election since 2002.. The City of Vancouver’s Chief Elections Officer has indicated voter turnout including advance polling was 44 per cent or 181,707 ballots of approximately 413,000 registered voters.
Vision Vancouver mayor Gregor Robertson reclaimed his seat in office for a third term by winning 83,529 ballots – a lead of approximately 10,000 ballots ahead of Non-Partisan Association (NPA) challenger Kirk Lapointe.
There was a higher level of interest in this year’s civic candidates and issues, coupled by greater accessibility to polling stations and an extension of the advance polling period.
The measures introduced this municipal election were part of the City’s goal of increasing turnout to 60 per cent by 2025. Voters were able to cast their ballots at any of the city’s 120 election day voting stations; there were no assigned neighbourhood voting station as an electronic voters list was introduced for the very first time. At some voting stations yesterday, waits to cast ballots were as long as an hour with lines forming outside the building and stretching a city block.
Advance voting also expanded from four to eight days and from five stations to eight stations, leading to a 98 per cent increase in voting (38,556 ballots) over the 2011 advance voting period (19,484 ballots).
Fair weather on Saturday and during most of the advance voting period was also a factor for the higher turnout.
The turnout for the 2014 municipal election was higher than the 2005, 2008 (the lowest in half a century) and 2011 elections. It was the highest turnout since 2002 when 50 per cent of Vancouver voters headed to the polls and voted for Larry Campbell’s Coalition of Progressive Electors’ (COPE) – a major change in regime after nearly a decade of Non-Partisan Association (NPA) rule under Philip Owen.
The issue of hosting the 2010 Olympic Games was a divisive issue in 2002, with Campbell winning the race over his critical stance on the bid and campaign platform of allowing Vancouverites to have a say over the matter by holding a city-wide plebiscite.
The Vancouver Olympic plebiscite, held in early-2003, also garnered a high turnout of 46 per cent and a majority ‘Yes’ result of 64 per cent.
Since 1984, all municipal elections, plebiscites and referendums have been held on a Saturday, when most people are off work, to attract a higher turnout.
Vancouver municipal election turnout history
- 2014: 44%
- 2011: 34.57%
- 2008: 30.79%
- 2005: 32%
- 2002: 50%
- 1999: 36.77%
- 1996: 32.4%
Feature Image: Democracy via Shutterstock