B.C. election turnout rebounds to 58% after final vote count

Turnout for the 2013 election was about the same as 2005, after a decline in the past 20 years. - Elections BC
Turnout for the 2013 election was about the same as 2005, after a decline in the past 20 years.
— image credit: Elections BC

VICTORIA – More that 1.8 million people voted in the May 14 provincial election, for a turnout of 58 per cent of eligible voters, up from the all-time low of 51 per cent in 2009.

The 2013 turnout rebounded to the same level as the 2005 election. Going back to 1983 vote, more than 70 per cent of eligible voters cast ballots, but the turnout steadily declined after that to 55 per cent in 2001.

The number of eligible voters has risen over the years with population growth. As a result, the B.C. Liberals got nearly 44,000 more votes this year than they did in 2009, with the NDP total increasing by 24,000. Overall, 161,000 more people voted in this election than four years ago.

Elections BC completed its final count Wednesday, including 180,000 ballots cast by people outside their home constituencies. That was double the 2009 total for absentee ballots, and accounted for much of the increase in turnout over four years ago.

Absentee ballots reversed one close result, giving NDP candidate Selina Robinson a 35-vote win over B.C. Liberal Steve Kim in Coquitlam-Maillardville. That result will be subject to a judicial recount, where a judge examines all 21,000 ballots to confirm the outcome.

If the count is upheld, Robinson becomes the 34th NDP MLA, facing off against 49 B.C. Liberals in a legislature that has almost the same party division as in the past four years. Delta South independent Vicki Huntington and the B.C. Green Party's Andrew Weaver in Oak Bay-Gordon Head round out the 85-seat legislature.

In another close race, Saanich North and the Islands, NDP candidate Gary Holman extended his margin of victory to 163 votes once absentee ballots were added to the election-night total that had him 50 votes ahead.

Once the results are made official June 5, MLAs can be sworn in and Premier Christy Clark can announce her cabinet lineup. Clark will also reveal where she will seek a seat, having lost Vancouver-Point Grey to the NDP's David Eby.

Clark has said several B.C. Liberal MLAs have offered to step aside for her, and she is considering running for a seat outside her home city of Vancouver.

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