News / Calgary

Calgary municipal voter turnout expected to be high: expert

Voters flocking to cast ballots early might not be an indication of Calgary's municipal turnout, but a competitive race does

Calgary has opened up a drive-up advance voting station at McMahon Stadium on Wednesday.

Jennifer Friesen / for Metro

Calgary has opened up a drive-up advance voting station at McMahon Stadium on Wednesday.

Calgarians are flocking to the advance polls, and if the trend continues could quickly surpass last election's keeners.

On Wednesday, the City of Calgary clocked nearly 10,000 at the polls – one of the popular ones being a drive-up station. In the last election, City of Calgary's election leader and civic census manager told Metro there were about 20,000 voters total who took advantage of the advance vote

Denys told Metro he's expecting to have a higher advance vote participation this year, and Calgarians are checking out the city's candidate profiles, so there's already lots of engagement going into the election.

In 2013, the first advance voting day garnered nearly 4,000 people while the 2010 advance turnout on day one was closer to 3,000.

Looking at the overall voter turnout for both elections, in 2010 the turnout stood at 53 per cent, a spike in turnout out of all of the city's available data starting in 1983 while it dropped down to 39 per cent.

According to Mount Royal University professor Lori Williams, this election is one to watch and although advance turnout doesn't usually indicate overall voter interest, she's expecting this year's voter turnout will be better than last election.

She said people have differing motivations for turning up to vote early - including some that might have the perception that voter turnout could be big, and they don't want to wait in line on Oct. 16.

What's more is the City of Calgary has increasingly made it easier to take part in the advance vote. And this year they've stepped way outside of the box with a drive-up polling station which saw so much demand changes had to be made to keep it going smoothly.

"We've got four open seats and the potential for real change on city council," Williams said. "I think that potential is going to motivate some people to come out and vote for the change, against, or in favour of the incumbents."

She said one of the things that affects turnout is a competitive election and by all accounts, that's what we're in the middle of.

"I expect the voter turnout to be higher than it was the last time," she said. "It's an open question whether it will be as high as it was in 2010."

She said emotion and competitiveness will be the main drivers of the election but even a high turnout won't be an indication of which way voters will go.

The advance vote will continue until Oct. 11, excluding Oct. 9, which is Thanksgiving.

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