A new trend?

We kept hassling the local returning officer this week with repeated phone calls, looking to find out just how many people voted in advance polls in Castlegar and the rest of the BC Southern Interior riding.

We kept hassling the local returning officer this week with repeated phone calls, looking to find out just how many people voted in advance polls in Castlegar and the rest of the BC Southern Interior riding.

After some telephone tag, we finally got a hold of a harried Rob Switzer, and we were pleased when he told us that turnout was up by about 25 per cent. No wonder he was so busy this week.

Though he didn’t have the precise vote counts from every polling station around the riding just yet, he said there was a definite jump in turnout compared to the 2008 federal election, when 5,300 people cast advance ballots in this riding. That means roughly 1,300 more people decided to vote ahead of time in this election, which bodes well for a big jump in turnout on the main voting day, May 2, as well.

But, as eager as local voters were to cast ballots in this election, it appears Canadians in general underwent an even larger democratic awakening. Nationwide, advance-poll turnout was up an incredible 35 per cent over 2008.

Not that the bar was set too high. The 2008 general election had the lowest turnout in history with just 59 per cent of eligible voters casting ballots.

That election was just the latest, too, in a mostly downward trend. After 75 per cent of voters cast ballots in the 1984 election, turnout has steadily declined in Canada.

But it looks like 2011 will buck that trend. While we’ll still have to wait and see just how many Canadians show up to the polls on May 2 to join the over 2 million who have already cast ballots in advance, it now seems likely that we will easily surpass the low-water mark of 2008.

Hopefully this will be the beginning of new trend in Canada, one which sees citizens break free of the apathy that had become so entrenched and grow increasingly engaged in the affairs of the nation.

– Castlegar News