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Voter turnout declines across Lower Mainland and major B.C. cities

Municipal election voter turnout has declined in nearly all major cities and municipalities in the province.
Municipal voting in B.C.
Polling sites were less busy in 2022 in comparison to 2018.

Voter turnout in British Columbia’s municipal elections Saturday dropped precipitously across the province’s most populous regions, based on an analysis by Glacier Media.

The average percentage point decline across the Lower Mainland’s key municipalities and large cities elsewhere was 7.4, from 2018 to 2022, based on unofficial data.

Glacier Media analyzed data at CivicInfo.BC.ca for all B.C. municipalities that received voter turnout of 10,000 votes or more in 2018, as well as other notable Lower Mainland municipalities, including from Whistler to Chilliwack. 

Of the 27 jurisdictions, only Whistler and Prince George saw an uptick in voter turnout, with percentage point increases of 7.5 and 2.2, respectively.

Nanaimo (-16.4), Delta (-14.2), Burnaby (-12.7), City of North Vancouver and Richmond (11.9) were among the larger cities that saw double-digit declines in voter turnout, which is based on total eligible voters versus how many ballots were cast.

Abbotsford saw a decline of 12.2 percentage point drop in voter turnout, from 35.8 per cent in 2018 to just 23.6 per cent in 2022.

Abbotsford’s neighbour Chilliwack saw a big decline as well, with a 15.7 percentage point decline in total voter turnout, from 38.9 per cent in 2018 to 23.2 per cent on Saturday.

Bucking the trend of significant voter decline were the province’s two largest cities as Vancouver declined just 2.1 percentage points and Surrey declined only 1.1 percentage points.

In 2018, 176,450 people voted in Vancouver whereas 171,494 voted on Saturday to deliver mayor-elect Ken Sim a majority on council for his A Better City slate.

CivicInfo data uses estimated eligible voters and not all cities have posted figures for eligible voters, and so the voter turnout results are unofficial.

gwood@glaciermedia.ca

A prior version of this story erroneously overstated Abbotsford's turnout in 2018