Election 2015: Voter turnout soars in local riding

Voter turnout in the Cowichan-Malahat-Langford was hovering around 74 per cent Tuesday morning with 13 polls left to report.

Voter turnout in the Cowichan-Malahat-Langford was hovering around 74 per cent Tuesday morning with 13 polls left to report.

That tally does not, however, include voters who registered on election day, meaning actual turnout numbers will be higher.

While it’s not a direct comparison to the 2011 federal election, the number is up from both former ridings making up the new Cowichan-Malahat-Langford riding.

In 2011, turnout was 65 per cent in Nanaimo-Cowichan and 66 per cent in Esquimalt-Juan de Fuca.

Nationally, voter turnout was 68.5 per cent — the highest in a federal election since 1993. Collectively, B.C. exceeded that average with a 70 per cent turnout, putting the province in the middle of the pack on the national scale.

“Voter turnout did go up all across the country but higher here than elsewhere,” One Cowichan spokesperson Matt Price said Tuesday. “We hope we made some difference in that number and I think it was also a factor of voters being hungry for change.”

One Cowichan was registered with Elections Canada as a third party election advertising sponsor, with one of the community group’s goals being to increase voter turnout.

“We did talk to a lot of people and we also had a lot of people watching our videos on Facebook and we encouraged people to get out there and cast a ballot,” Price said. “We’re happy.”

The lesson this campaign, he said, is that a new voting system is desperately required.

“A lot of people were torn between who they should vote for,” he said.

Electoral reform was included in the Liberal platform so, Price said, hopefully things will be different next time  and people can vote for who they want, as opposed to who they feel they need to.

“Next time we hope to have a different voting system that doesn’t pit people against each other the way this one does,” he said. “We’ll be watching closely for that. We hope they follow through on that promise. I think that would increase voter turnout even more if people think the system is going to reflect their wishes.”

Cowichan Valley Citizen