Mission lags behind when it comes to voting opportunities

Mission lags behind when it comes to voting opportunities

Most mid-sized B.C. cities provide more advance polls and mail-in ballots, analysis finds

With no mail-in ballots, and two days of advance polling in a single location, Mission voters had fewer opportunities to cast a ballot than counterparts in most other mid-sized B.C. cities.

Following October’s election, in which 32 per cent of eligible Mission residents voted, Black Press surveyed a dozen different B.C. municipalities.

It found large variations between how easy municipalities make it for people to vote before election day.

Of the 12 jurisdictions, only Abbotsford, Mission and Chilliwack combined a lack of absentee mail-in ballots with the fewest mandated advance polling opportunities.

At the other end of the spectrum, municipalities like Maple Ridge and Langley provided advance polls on more than a half-dozen days in as many different locations. Kelowna, Vancouver and Victoria provided a similar range of chances. And Kamloops, Prince George and Vernon each provided three or four days of advance voting, with multiple locations in the latter two communities.

Only Abbotsford, Mission, Chilliwack and Nanaimo gave voters the minimum number of advance opportunities allowable under the law. Three of those four municipalities were also among the five communities surveyed that don’t allow mail-in voting. (Langley and Vernon were the others.)

Black Press did not find a correlation between the availability of polls and turnout, although a range of other factors – including the tone of a campaign, whether there is a desire for change, and the perception of a close mayor’s race – make it difficult to say how turnout reacts to things like polling locations.

Four of the 12 communities – Chilliwack, Kamloops, Victoria and Prince George – also provide free transit on election day, while Vancouver’s public bike share service offered a free 24-hour pass that could be used for the month.