The results are in and though Castlegar didn’t win the Community Voters’ Challenge, the city did have the highest increase in the number of registered voters.
The voter turnout for Castlegar and Areas I and J increased an impressive 11.5 per cent, from a 61 per cent voter turnout in 2011 to a 73 per cent voter turnout in 2015, but it wasn’t enough to claim the top spot, which went to Rossland with a 12.7 per cent increase in voter turnout.
But Castlegar did increase its number of registered voters by 11.4 per cent, from 10,611 registered voters in 2011 to 11,817 registered voters in 2015.
Mike Chapman, one of the organizers for the challenge, wants to thank libraries in the region — including the Castlegar and District Public Library — for holding voter registration events.
“Librarians said, ‘You know these are community centres and this is a natural home for something like this, to educate people and encourage them to take part in the voting process,’” he explained.
Castlegar also had an extra helping hand from Suzanne Larocque, a Selkirk College Nursing program student who setup a voter registration booth out at the college five times last March.
Voter turnout in each of the 14 communities that participated in the challenge exceeded the national turnour, which was 68 per cent, and the provincial turnout, which was 70 per cent. Only one participating community (Grand Forks at 71 per cent) had a turnout that fell below the overall voter turnout for the Kootenay Columbia and South Okanagan-West Kootenay ridings, which was 73 per cent.
“We really wanted to spark some enthusiasm and excitement around voting and that worked,” said Chapman. “We feel — I think the word for it all is — celebratory.”
Chapman also wants to thank Lucas Myers, who took on the role of ranter in the absence of Rick Mercer.
“He kind of stepped in and became the firebrand, Rick Mercer to the Kootenays,” said Chapman.