Voter turn out up all around, in Maple and Pitt

Maple Ridge extended hours for advance polls, went multi-media

  • Nov. 18, 2014 8:00 p.m.

Voter turnout for the Maple Ridge  2014 civic election was up over 2011. A total of 16,828 ballots were cast, 4,019 more than in 2011.

“Clearly, there was a lot of engagement in it in a lot of different forms,” said Fred Armstrong, communications manager with the City of Maple Ridge.

He was charged with getting more people to the polls after 2011’s dismal turnout of 25 per cent.

This year, just under 32 per cent took part.

Anger or dissatisfaction got people interested, as well as a real race for the mayor’s position.

“Whenever you have a real battle for the mayor’s chair, you have a good, solid turnout,” Armstrong said.

The city also did its part to make it as easy as possible. Advance polls for the first time took place at the Leisure Centre, Planet Ice, and Maple Ridge Alliance Church, in the city’s west end, to make it as convenient as possible.

That could have contributed to more than doubling of the advance poll numbers to 1,492 this year.

Voters this year also had three days to vote early instead of only two in 2011.

The city also took out ads, promoting the election and encouraging people to vote and also made short videos with the same message. The city also listed candidate profiles and photos on its Election 2014 page on its website.

“Everything that was in the paper was also put on Facebook and Twitter,” said Armstrong.

He said by Oct. 30, two weeks before the election, Maple Ridge’s election web page drew 15,000 hits, while a week before the Nov. 15 vote, 20,000 visited the city’s Facebook page.

In Pitt Meadows, the voter turnout was 31.3 per cent, up slightly from 29.8 per cent in 2011.

There are 12,756 eligible voters, and there were 3,996 ballots cast.

The advance polls are increasing popular, with 788 ballots cast in advance this year. There were 486 who voted in advance polls in 2011.

Provincewide, voter turnout jumped from 29.5 per cent in 2011 to 33.3 per cent on Saturday.