North Island voters storm the ballot box

Advance polling numbers are in, and they're impressive

Campbell River’s Kim Bennett waited more than an hour and a half in line last Friday to cast a ballot.

She wasn’t alone, obviously, or it wouldn’t have taken so long.

According to Elections Canada, she was one of over 3.6 million people who voted over the Thanksgiving weekend.

That’s a 71 per cent increase over 2011 advance polling numbers.

In our region, however, the increase was even greater.

Numbers released by Elections Canada on Wednesday showed 12,232 people cast votes over the Thanksgiving weekend in the North-Island–Powell River riding. In 2011, Elections Canada reported 4,771 votes in advance polls here.

That’s over 150 per cent more people voting in advance polls this time around than last.

Granted, there was one more day of advance polls this year than last time around, but our electoral district also shrunk when the lines were redrawn in 2012. With a population of 113,356, the previous electoral district of Vancouver Island North had almost 10,000 more people than the new riding of North Island–Powell River, which has a population of 103,458.

And the math says that even accounting for the extra day of polling, it’s still a 92 per cent increase in per-day polling here – 3,058 this time versus 1,590 in 2011.

The national increase when accounting for the extra day was 28.5 per cent.

So what drove the people out in such increased numbers?

“I already knew who I was voting for,” Bennett says, “and I didn’t want to keep thinking about it. I just wanted to get it over with. I feel like Canada needs change, and I wouldn’t pass up the chance to make that happen.”

She’s not alone in that, either.

Bennett says there was “lots of chatter about strategic voting,” happening around her in the lineup.

Strategic voting, for those who don’t know, is the practice of voting for whichever candidate you feel has the best chance at defeating a candidate you don’t want winning the seat, rather than voting for the candidate you think would best represent your interests in Ottawa. This time around, it’s being touted as the way to get the Conservative government out of office.

Bennett, however, wasn’t part of that group.

“I think everyone needs to vote for the party that they feel is going to benefit them the most. That’s what I did. If people want change, they have the power to make it happen – it’s called voting.”

She encourages everyone to get out and cast a ballot, regardless of who they are supporting.

“Voting is important to me because who makes up our government doesn’t just affect my future, it affects my kid’s future,” she says, and she wants her four-year-old daughter to live in a country that cares about her.

Election Day is Monday, Oct. 19 for those who haven’t yet cast a ballot.