It’s a feature of democracy that voter turnout for byelections tends to trend lower than turnout on general election voting days.
But even with low expectations, the City of Vancouver admits it’s disappointed with how many people cast a ballot in Saturday’s byelections to choose one new city councillor and nine new school board trustees.
City officials had been hoping to see about 20 to 25 per cent turnout on Saturday, still a far cry below the 43 per cent who showed up to vote in the 2014 civic election.
Instead, just under 11 per cent of voters — just under 49,000 people — cast a ballot in a vote that cost the city at least $1 million to administer.
In the wake of the vote, chief election officer Janice MacKenzie said she’s not sure what else the city can do to get more people to vote.
“I’ll be looking at that more closely over the next little while. But off the top, I can’t think of anything. Elections staff, they did a super effort in encouraging voters to get out and vote and I think that the communications and social media campaigns were very strong.”
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Vancouver’s last byelection in 1992 saw a turnout of 10 per cent.
MacKenzie said this time around the city thought it could beat those numbers considering what was at stake.
“The fact that it wasn’t just a single councillor, but that people were actually going to be voting for the entire school board. I was hopeful that we would see a higher turnout.”
Saturday’s byelection saw the Non Partisan Association (NPA)’s Hector Bremner pick up a seat on council.
The Vancouver School Board (VSB) was split, with the Vancouver Greens picking up three seats, Vision Vancouver picking up three seats, the NPA winning two, and neophyte party OneCity electing its first representative to any level of government.
The byelection was held to replace Vision Vancouver councillor Geoff Meggs who resigned to be Premier John Horgan’s chief of staff and the entire school board, which was fired last fall by the former BC Liberal education minister.