Get ready, get set, vote!

The Community Voters' Challenge heats up as election day approaches.

A week before the federal election, the organizers behind the Community Voters’ Challenge released the voter turnouts from 2011.

In total nine municipalities and five electoral areas agreed to participate in the challenge, though the electoral districts have been grouped with nearby municipalities for the challenge resulting in nine contestants.

Castlegar has been grouped with areas I and J, and the number to beat is a 61 per cent voter turnout from 2011, the lowest voter turnout of all the competitors.

In some ways that makes Castlegar and areas I and J the underdog of this competition. The winner is the community that increases its voter turnout by the biggest percentage, so Castlegar and areas I and J don’t necessarily need to beat Slocan’s 73 per cent, but it certainly wouldn’t hurt.

Residents will have to engage in some fierce voting to have a shot at winning, and that means no voter gets left behind. Voters should be prepared to offer rides to polling stations, form voting parties, and attest for any voters without the necessary ID.

The whole point of the challenge is to get more people out to vote, hopefully by getting them excited about it.

We think [the Community Voters’ Challenge] has added a whole bunch of optimism in a time … [when] people look at politics … either apathetically or with a cynical view,” said Mike Chapman, one of the organizers. “We feel that there’s been a whole bunch of excitement generated, enthusiasm generated here, and we’re just really, really pleased with the numbers.”

So far the prize for the winner is bragging rights, but the Community Voter’s Challenge has also posted a YouTube video on its Facebook page summoning Rick Mercer to visit the winning community and “bless them with a Rick Rant of his own.”

Advanced poll voter turnout across the country is up from 2011, giving some hope that overall voter turnout may be up as well.

Those who didn’t vote in the advanced poles will have from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Oct. 19 to do so.

2011 voter turnouts:

Slocan—73%Kaslo and Area D—70%Rossland—69%New Denver—67%Nelson and areas E and F—64%Fernie—64%Nakusp—62%Grand Forks—62%Castlegar and areas I and J—61%