BLACK PRESS file photo

BLACK PRESS file photo

More than 9,000 people have already voted in the Nanaimo byelection

Rising advance voting numbers are a trend, says University of Victoria professor

More than 9,000 Nanaimoites have already voted in the byelection.

According to recently released polling data from Elections B.C., 9,322 people cast their ballot during advance voting in the Nanaimo byelection.

Advance polls were open from Jan. 22-27 and general voting takes place on Wednesday, Jan. 30.

The most popular day for advance voting was Saturday, Jan. 26, when 1,766 ballots were cast, according to Elections B.C.

The newly released figures also indicate a 17 per cent increase in voter turnout during Jan. 22-27 advance voting compared to the 2017 provincial election when a total of 7,948 people in the Nanaimo riding cast their ballot during advance polls.

Michael Prince, professor of social policy at the University of Victoria, said advance voting numbers in British Columbia have been rising for 20 years and isn’t entirely surprised by the recent Elections B.C. data for Nanaimo.

“More and more people are opting for advanced voting opportunities,” he said. “Nanaimo seems to be reflecting what is a trend across the province.”

Prince said voter turnout for a byelection is usually lower than in a general election. He said the fact that turnout during advance voting was strong each day is an indication that turnout on Jan. 30 will also be good.

“I think we are going to see a healthy turnout for a byelection,” he said.

Should the Liberals win the Nanaimo riding, they would have the same number of seats as the NDP-Green Party coalition. Prince said it’s that fragile lead that is on the line and described the byelection as a “high-stakes” affair.

“Literally the future of the government depends on this,” he said.

Historically the NDP have done very well in the Nanaimo riding, winning on absentee ballots and doing very well in advance voting, according to Prince. He said based on his experience, advance voters tend to be people who are often party members or individuals who have always voted a certain way regardless.

“I’ve always thought that the people who come out early are the people who don’t really need to go to candidate meetings, they’ve made up their mind,” he said. “They are going to stick with a party or a commitment.”

Prince said parties will need to do more than mobilize their core base of supporters in order to be successful in the byelection.

“None of the parties can just sort of rest on the middle age and older folks and getting that younger vote out is important,” he said.

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nicholas.pescod@nanaimobulletin.com 
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