BC voters up with the roosters

As of October 23rd, over a million early birds had flocked to the polls in British Columbia – 681,055 at advance polls and almost 500,000 vote-by-mail packages have already been received. Combined, that’s over half the amount that voted in 2017 when about 2 million flew to the polls, mainly on Election Day.

Cock-a-doodle doo … time to vote

Province-wide, about 33% of registered voters have voted or their mail ballots have already been received. Last election, the voter turnout was 61% – so, likely half of the ballots this time are already in. The percentage of early bird voters will increase as mail ballots continue to arrive prior to Saturday at 8pm.

I looked at early birds riding-by-riding by calculating the percentage of advance poll voters per riding and adding the estimated number of mail ballots received per riding (as of October 22) to determine number of early bird voters. (The estimate of mail ballots is Mail Packages requested * 54% – the amount returned by October 22, province-wide). UPDATE – the number of mail ballots received as of October 23 is now 478,900 (66% of packages requested).

Where are the early birds? It looks like they are nesting on the Island. Two of the top three early bird ridings in BC elected Greens in 2017.

Riding
(Colour coded by winning party, 2017)
Adv% Mail ballot return estimateCombined Advance+Mail  (est.)   Oct 22
Parksville-Qualicum26%16%42%
(now 46%, Oct 23)
Saanich North & Islands24%18%41%
Oak Bay Gordon Head20%21%41%
Esquimalt-Metchosin25%16%41%
Vancouver Pt. Grey24%17%41%
Victoria Beacon Hill18%21%39%
Courtenay-Comox24%14%39%
Victoria Swan Lake21%18%38%
North Van Seymour22%16%38%
Saanich South19%19%38%
Vancouver Fairview19%18%37%
Boundary Similkameen29%8%37%
Delta South24%13%37%
Surrey White Rock23%14%37%
Penticton25%11%36%
Langford-Juan de Fuca22%14%36%
North Van Lonsdale23%13%36%
Cowichan Valley24%12%36%
Vancouver West End21%14%35%
Nanaimo-North Cowichan23%12%35%
West Van Sea to Sky24%10%34%
West Van Capilano20%14%34%
Port Moody Coquitlam18%15%33%
Nanaimo20%13%33%
Kelowna Mission23%10%33%
Maple Ridge Pitt Meadows22%11%33%
Burnaby Lougheed21%12%33%
New Westminster18%14%33%
Vancouver Quilchena17%16%32%
Surrey Fleetwood23%9%32%
Langley East20%12%32%
Columbia River Revelstoke25%6%32%
Port Coquitlam19%12%32%
Surrey South18%13%31%
Shuswap23%7%31%
Vancouver False Creek16%15%31%
Kootenay East25%6%31%
Surrey Cloverdale18%12%31%
Coquitlam Maillardville19%11%31%
Kelowna Lake Country20%10%31%
Mid Island-Pacific Rim21%9%30%
Coquitlam Burke Mtn19%12%30%
Cariboo Chilcotin23%7%30%
Kelowna West21%9%30%
Nelson Creston22%8%30%
Langley19%11%30%
Chilliwack Kent 20%10%30%
Powell River Sunshine Coast18%11%29%
Maple Ridge Mission19%11%29%
Fraser Nicola24%5%29%
Burnaby North17%12%29%
Delta North19%10%29%
Richmond Steveston16%13%29%
Surrey Panorama18%10%29%
Abbotsford Mission19%9%28%
Vernon-Monashee19%9%28%
Vancouver Hastings15%13%28%
Abbotsford West21%7%28%
Skeena23%5%28%
Kamloops North Thompson18%10%28%
North Island18%10%28%
Vancouver Fraserview15%12%28%
Vancouver Langara14%13%27%
Richmond Queensborough18%9%27%
Vancouver Kensington15%13%27%
Abbotsford South18%9%27%
Kamloops South Thompson20%7%26%
PG Valemount19%7%26%
Vancouver Kingsway16%11%26%
PG Mackenzie19%7%26%
Peace North23%3%26%
Vancouver Mt Pleasant13%13%26%
Surrey Guildford17%9%26%
Chilliwack17%8%26%
Cariboo North20%5%26%
Kootenay West18%7%24%
Burnaby Deer Lake14%10%24%
Stikine19%5%24%
Surrey Newton15%9%23%
Burnaby Edmonds12%10%22%
Surrey Green Timbers14%8%21%
Surrey Whalley14%7%21%
Richmond South Centre11%10%21%
Peace South18%2%21%
Richmond North Centre10%10%20%
North Coast16%3%19%
Nechako Lakes9%4%12%
Total19.4%11%
(now 14%, as of Oct 23)
30%
(now 33%, Oct 23)
*numbers may not add up due to rounding. Riding-by-Riding not updated for Oct 23.

It appears the advance polls of Michelle Stilwell’s riding were more densely packed than a Fanny Bay oyster bed. Just to be clear, the voter turnout there is already over 45% and they haven’t even got to Election Day. I realize that many ‘experienced’ voters on the Island like to go to bed after the 5:30pm Chek 6 News, but I’m beginning to wonder if they voted early in order to sleep through the entire weekend.

It’s not just Parksville-Qualicum, 7 of 8 early bird ridings are on the Island. By God, democracy is alive and well over there. There are probably a few factors at play:

  • The Island has an older population compared to rest of BC, and it has been clearly shown that older people are more likely to vote.
  • The Island population is not particularly diverse. In ridings with high populations of non-English speakers, language can be a barrier to participation. In fact, highly diverse ridings like Richmond North Centre, Richmond South Centre, Surrey Newton, and Surrey-Green Timbers have among the lowest early bird totals.
  • The Greens are much stronger on the Island, which helps boost turnout due to increased competition.

(Bryan Breguet – Too Close Too Call website – did some interesting analysis here and here. He spent more time number crunching.)

Northern ridings Nechako Lakes and North Coast are the bottom two. They appear to be saving it for Election Day. Stikine and Skeena had higher advance turnouts but low mail participation.

The top advance poll riding was Boundary-Similkameen (29% of registered voters), though they weren’t as big on mail there. Oak Bay-Gordon Head was huge on mail (#1), and had a pretty solid advance poll too.

There is some correlation to high turnout ridings voting early, however, that is not uniform. I looked at turnout in 2017 and it is not straightforward correlation between overall turnout and early turnout. You can see from the table above that there is quite a bit of variation between advance and mail. Rural ridings have a different pattern than urban, the Island is different, etc.

Is there a pattern here? Does this signal a partisan advantage? Public polls breathlessly report that vote-by-mail and/or advance voters are leaning this or that way. If that is the case, and early voters are skewed differently than general election day voters, then that factor will be more at play in the top half of the list than the bottom. In other words, ridings with a higher percentage of votes yet to be cast are potentially more volatile.

What’s the big lesson? Early bird gets the worm? With an estimated half-million early bird votes to be counted after Election Day, I would say don’t count your chickens late November.

One Comment

  1. Fascinating for us political junkies. Probably sleep-inducing for the majority of British Columbians (and how long will that name –‘British Columbians’ — last?)

    Like

    Reply

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