The returning officer for West Vancouver-Sunshine Coast-Sea to Sky Country says the riding followed the national trend with an increase in advance voting this year.
According to Elections Canada, about 4.7 million people voted between Oct. 11 and 14, a 29 per cent increase from the numbers in 2015.
Returning officer Charles Jeffery told Coast Reporter that although the final numbers haven’t been released, there was definitely an increase and local officials were expecting a high demand for advance voting based on the 2015 experience, when there were 16,096 advance votes cast.
As a result, polling stations were added on the Sunshine Coast to avoid long lines.
(Preliminary advance voting numbers were released on Oct. 18, after Coast Reporter's print deadline - they show 19,289 advance ballots were cast, an increase of almost 20 per cent over 2015.)
Elections Canada puts the number of voters in the riding this election at 93,938, an increase of more than 3,000 from 2015, and there will also be more polling stations open Monday than in the previous federal election.
While every effort is made to choose locations that are fully accessible, some of the older community halls on the Coast don’t meet the formal Elections Canada criteria. Jeffery also said there was an error on voter cards for people whose polling station is the Sechelt Legion. The cards indicate the building is not accessible, although it is. “The site is accessible and we have received calls about that,” Jeffery said. “Elections Canada apologizes that the error didn’t get spotted when we produced the voter information cards.”
For voters concerned they’ve been assigned to a polling station that won’t be accessible for them, Jeffery said they are able to apply for a transfer to an accessible site by calling or visiting the Sechelt office.
Special voting options, like having a returning officer come to your home, ended at 6 p.m. Oct. 15 and people who want to vote on Monday will need to do it at their assigned polling station unless they apply for a transfer to deal with an accessibility issue.
Jeffery said Elections Canada still needs as many as 20 additional workers for the Sunshine Coast polling stations. He said the best way to apply is through the Elections Canada website, www.elections.ca, which is also the best source for information about the ID you’ll need to bring and other questions.
The local Elections Canada office is at 5653 Wharf Ave. in Sechelt. It has a toll-free phone line at 1-866-410-5230 and is open 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.
Polling stations will be open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Oct. 21.