The numbers are in, and while nearly two million British Columbians voted in last month’s provincial election, the percentage of eligible voters who turned out was the lowest since 1928.
Elections BC has reported that 1,900,353 people voted in the Oct. 24 election. However, only 54.5 per cent of eligible voters cast a ballot, eclipsing the previous low of 55.14 per cent in 2009.
Fraser-Nicola also saw a large number of voters — 13,679 — which is the second-highest number in the riding’s short history (it was created in 2009). However, that number is only 51.6 per cent of registered voters in the riding; the lowest voter turnout recorded in the riding’s existence.
The large number of people who took advantage of voting by mail was responsible for boosting the numbers. Some 2,566 Fraser-Nicola residents cast their ballot by mail, and without them turnout would have been a dismal 42 per cent.
Prior to last month’s election, the lowest turnout in Fraser-Nicola was 61.5 per cent (in 2013).
The total number of votes cast province-wide was only 86,021 fewer than in 2017, which saw the largest turnout ever for a provincial election. A record 724,279 voters requested vote-by-mail packages in 2020, a massive increase from past provincial elections. Of those people, 596,287 voters returned their package by the close of voting, representing a return rate of 82.3 per cent. This return rate does not account for voters who requested a vote-by-mail package but decided to vote in person.
In the 2017 provincial election only 6,517 voters voted by mail, representing 57.8 per cent of packages issued for that election.
This was also the first election in B.C. in which more voters voted before Election Day than on Election Day. In 2020, 35.4 per cent of voters cast their ballots in advance of Election Day, compared with 30.2 per cent in 2017. Voting by mail accounted for 31.4 per cent of the votes cast in 2020, as opposed to 0.3 per cent in 2017. Absentee voting was down in 2020 over 2017 (4.4 per cent as opposed to 8.7 per cent), while on Election Day 2020, 28.8 per cent of voters went to a polling station. In 2017 that figure was 60.8 per cent.
For a breakdown of how many people voted, and for whom, at each of the polling stations in Fraser-Nicola, go to https://bit.ly/36Wz1hr.