Ad­vance vot­ing turnout down

Cal­gar­i­ans cast ve times as many bal­lots com­pared to Ed­mon­ton

Metro Canada (Edmonton) - - News - Kevin Maimann

Ed­mon­ton is get­ting crushed in the Bat­tle of Al­berta when it comes to ad­vance vot­ing.

Cal­gary’s turnout was more than five times Ed­mon­ton’s after the first week of early-bird polls, with al­most 44,300 hav­ing voted by Sun­day.

Ed­mon­ton’s turnout by end of day Monday was just shy of 8,500 — slightly lower than at the same point in the pre­vi­ous 2013 elec­tion.

Duane Bratt, po­lit­i­cal science chair at Mount Royal Univer­sity, said early in­ter­est points to a more com­pet­i­tive may­oral race down south.

“Voter turnout is go­ing to be a lot higher in Cal­gary than it is in Ed­mon­ton,” Bratt said.“What drives voter turnout is the com­pet­i­tive­ness of the mayor’s race. And we have a very tight, com­pet­i­tive race right now be­tween Bill Smith and Na­heed Nen­shi in Cal­gary.

“In Ed­mon­ton, Don Ive­son is sleep­walk­ing to re-elec­tion. It’s him and nine crazy peo­ple.”

Cal­gary’s ad­vanced vot­ing is set to close Wed­nes­day, while Ed­mon­ton’s runs through Friday.

Bratt said an­other fac­tor in Cal­gary’s high early turnout is the “nov­elty fac­tor” of a new drive-in poll at McMa­hon sta­dium, which al­lowed driv­ers to vote with­out leav­ing their cars.

“That got a lot of at­ten­tion; peo­ple wanted to try that out,” he said.

Ed­mon­ton’s di­rec­tor of elec­tions, Iain Ma­cLean, said the city will look into launch­ing a sim­i­lar drive-through vot­ing op­tion for the next elec­tion.

Ed­mon­ton’s turnout was 34.5 per cent in 2013 — a slight im­prove­ment over 33.4 per cent in 2010. Bratt said he would be sur­prised if Ed­mon­ton even reaches 30 per cent this year.

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