Nearly 25,000 people voted in Chilliwack’s municipal election on Oct. 20, shattering the total of 14,943 set in 2014.
Voter turnout was strong throughout the day Saturday, with polling stations reporting an average of 2,000 ballots cast hourly.
The busiest polling station was Evergreen Hall, followed by Watson elementary.
In the end, the final tally of preliminary results was 24,703 votes out of an estimated 63,427 eligible voters. That’s a turnout of 38.9 per cent more than the 25.6 per cent from 2014, and even more so the 16.1 per cent in 2011 when Sharon Gaetz was acclaimed.
Advance polls also drew strong numbers, with 965 people voting Oct. 10, and 1,569 taking the opportunity on Oct. 17.
And while it can be noted that even with such a record turnout, that means 61.1 per cent of eligible voters in Chilliwack did not cast a ballot, municipal elections historically have much lower turnouts that provincial or federal elections.
There are multiple factors for this, according to experts, including a perception that municipal government is less important than higher levels, but also the lack of a distinct party system making it harder for voters to make easy choices.
Chilliwack’s 38.9 per cent is actually higher than the provincial average of 36 per cent. That latter number is typical B.C.-wide, but Chilliwack usually ranks well below that.
Vancouver had 39 per cent, with Victoria hitting 45 per cent. Abbotsford had 36 per cent, which is about typical for that city.