Voter turnout increases

Efforts made by local media and the Young Professionals of Campbell River to get the vote out this year appeared to have paid off

Voter turnout in Campbell River was up nine per cent over the last municipal election in 2011.

A total of 39 per cent of voters cast a ballot in Saturday’s election, which translates to 9,308 votes cast out of 24,167 eligible voters. Votes were cast all day Saturday and in two advance polls on Nov. 5 and Nov. 12.

In 2011, which saw one of the lowest voter turnout rates in Campbell River’s history, just 30 per cent cast a ballot.

Efforts made by local media and the Young Professionals of Campbell River (YPCR) to get the vote out this year appeared to have paid off, as Campbell River’s voter turnout rate beat the provincial average of 33.3 per cent.

The Mirror, for its part, ran all of the candidates bios and platforms, as well as several question and answer segments and sponsored an all-candidates forum alongside the YPCR at the Tidemark Theatre.

The forum was part two of a four-pronged approach by the YPCR to encourage its members to cast a ballot.

The first event was a presentation by civic electoral officer Peter Wipper on voter apathy to the YPCR membership, and the third and final portion was an “I Voted” party Saturday night after the polls closed.

Wipper said because election officials are unable to track demographics, such as the age of those who came out to vote, it’s difficult to say whether voting rates among the city’s younger population did in fact go up.

But while voter turnout as a whole increased, claims on the Mirror’s Facebook page about renters being told that only one person per household could vote, dissuaded at least one woman from going to the polls, according to her Facebook post.

Wipper said he would like to know how the discussion originated to determine what happened. He said election officials made every effort they possibly could to allow people to vote, as long as they owned property in Campbell River or they lived in the city for at least 30 days and were at least 18 years old. Wipper said he finds it hard to believe anyone was turned away because they’re a renter.

“We would never do that,” Wipper said. “All the staff were well-trained. I stood before all the election officials and I told them the most important thing a Canadian has is the right to vote.”

Wipper said if someone was not on the voting list, they could produce two pieces of I.D. – one with a signature and one proving their address. If they recently moved they could prove their address by bringing in a rental agreement or any bills mailed to them at their new address.

For those who are homeless and don’t have a fixed address, a voter could sign a declaration swearing they are a resident of Campbell River.

Watch for more on this issue in upcoming editions of the Mirror. If you were turned back at the voting station, tell us your story, contact us at 287-9227 or email editor@campbellrivermirror.com.