Tarra Massey clears a table during a candidates’ meet-and-greet at Big Feast on Monday.

Advance polls down 25 per cent in Maple Ridge

In part possibly because of Remembrance Day long weekend

Despite an ad campaign urging people to Be A Voter, several all candidates’ meetings, and 28 people running in Saturday’s municipal election, the Maple Ridge public doesn’t seem too interested, based on the turnout at advance polls.

Early voting took place Nov. 5 and 9, and only 624 electors took advantage of the opportunity to mark their choices for mayor, council and school board.

That’s down 25 per cent from the 828 advance votes that were cast in the 2008 election.

Deputy chief election officer Tonya Polz said one possible reason for the decrease is the advance poll on Nov. 5, which drew only 247 votes.

Officials held the vote on that date so it didn’t conflict with the Remembrance Day long weekend. The second advance poll drew a more usual number of 377 votes.

Polz said during the next election, the advance voting dates may be scheduled closer to election day, but even then, people complain that’s inconvenient.

The number of mail-in ballots likely will decrease, as well. About 250 ballots were mailed in during the 2008 election, but so far only 100 applications have been requested for this election. One request for a mail-in ballot came from a Maple Ridge resident in the Alouette Correctional Centre for Women and another came from someone in France.

Long-term care homes are also offered the ballots, while on voting day, election officials will visit Ridge Meadows Hospital.

Polz didn’t know if the numbers indicated a general lack of interest in the Maple Ridge campaign, but district spokesman Fred Armstrong still hopes that the turnout will exceed 30 per cent of the 51,089 eligible voters in Maple Ridge.

In the 2008 election, the three-way mayoralty race drew lots of advertising and information early in the campaign. In the current election, advertising has been cut back, perhaps requiring people to wait and think a bit more.

“In my heart of hearts, I’m looking for about 16,000 to come out and vote,” Armstrong said.

“I don’t think, in this case, that the advance poll will affect what the final voter turnout will be.

“My gut says we’re going to have a solid turnout on Saturday. People are really taking the time to think about this.”

Polls are open all day Saturday from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Voting locations are at Ridge Meadows Seniors Activity Centre as well as Albion, Garibaldi, Hammond, Laity View, Whonnock and Yennadon schools.

If you’re on the voter’s list, you don’t need to bring identification. Results should start to roll in at 8:30 p.m.

 

Up in Pitt Meadows, though

More people took advantage of advance polls in the City of Pitt Meadows this year, in keeping with a trend that saw numbers go up in several municipalities in Metro Vancouver.

Pitt Meadows had 488 voters cast their ballots in advanced polls for this year’s municipal elections, compared to just 200 three years ago.

City staff hope the trend continues Saturday and voter turnout surpasses the dismal numbers of the 2008 election, when just 23 per cent, or 2,615 of 11,500 eligible voters cast ballots.

This year, 12,220 people are registered to vote.

“We are hoping this means that it’s going to be up on general voting day,” said legislative service clerk Linda Kelly.

“I think it’s because there’s going to be a new mayor too, so there’s probably more interest.”

Advance polls numbers were up in Vancouver and Surrey.

You can vote tomorrow, Saturday, Nov. 19, from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. at the Pitt Meadows Family Recreation Centre (12027 Harris Road) and at the Heritage Hall Community Centre (12460 Harris Road).

– with files from Monisha Martins

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