Wakey wakey. It’s almost 10/09… time to vote. Advance polls open October 9-12.
More and more voters are setting their alarm clocks to vote in advance polls.
In BC’s 2013 election, advance voting rose to over 20% of all votes cast. A sharp rise over five successive elections when only 5.74% voted in advance (1996).
In Alberta, advance voting jumped from 14% to 16% from 2012 to 2015. Why are people voting earlier? Convenience? Increased efforts by political parties to lock up the votes?
It’s kind of a thing with older people. Elections Canada also reports a rising trend of advance voting between 2004-2011. Those keenest to vote early are age groups that are the likeliest to vote. Federally, 5% of 18-24s voted early compared to 17% of 65-74s. After that morning coffee at Tim Horton’s, why not round up the pals and go vote?
So, older people are keen to vote early and they are keen to vote often. My estimate – back of envelope – is that over three-fifths of advance voters are beyond age 55.
An interesting strategic issue is at play. If advance voters are disproportionately older – even moreso than overall turnout stats – then the voting population on Election Day (October 19) will be more balanced by age.
The voters heading to the advance voting stations this weekend – once they vote – they are done. The advertising and media that bombards them in next 24-96 hours will have done its work – one way or another – and those votes will be locked up. Maybe it will be 20% of the electorate, like BC, but whatever the amount, it will be well over a million voters.
Of the remaining voters, younger voters will be more important proportionally, so will messaging be tweaked? We’ll have to see.
Political parties are more sophisticated than ever in mobilizing voters. Social media will play an increasing role this time. Canadian political parties are learning from mobilization techniques that have proven highly successful south of the 49th where early voting is an even bigger thing.
The recent polls are unclear who’s really winning this election. Is it a clear Conservative lead as some suggest or a tight Liberal lead as others purport? And what about Quebec voters – will they show up en masse for advance polls or wait and see? The Conservatives will look to put a stranglehold on the race by encouraging the Grey March to the polls. The Liberals will try compete among seniors in the advance poll, thereby undermining what should be a Conservative edge. Either way, the votes cast by turkey time will be a huge advantage for the party with momentum heading into a long, political weekend.