Voters are heading to the polls to cast their ballots in the province's 40th general election, as British Columbians determine who will lead the province for the next four years.

Voting stations are open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. in all 85 electoral districts. There are 376 candidates representing 19 political parties, but some are also running as independents.

The leaders of the B.C. Liberals, Conservatives and NDP are spending Election Day in their ridings in the Lower Mainland and the Fraser Valley, after a gruelling campaign that kicked off on April 16th.

Earlier today, Dix said his party believes there are no "safe" seats for the B.C. Liberals in today's election.

But Liberal Leader Christy Clark says she is optimistic about the chances of returning her party to power.

Clark is spending the day in her Vancouver-Point Grey riding before she and Dix join their supporters at separate downtown Vancouver hotels to await election results.

Smaller parties

Conservative Leader John Cummins will cast his ballot in Langley, visit Chilliwack, and then return to Langley for the afternoon and evening.

Green Party Leader Jane Sterk is holding a downtown street party tonight to watch the election results.

The B.C. Liberal party has run the province since coming to power in 2001. While this election is still largely a contest between Clark's Liberals and Dix's NDP, small parties and independents might be the difference makers, says the CBC's Stephen Smart.

This year, a record number of voters went to the polls in advance of today's election, some 80,000 more than the last provincial election in 2009.


Polling stations, like this one in Vancouver's West End, are open until 8 p.m. in all 85 electoral districts across B.C. (Richard Zussman/CBC)

Elections B.C. reported that 380,741 advance votes were cast between May 8-11, when advance polls were open, representing 12 per cent of B.C.'s 3.1 million eligible voters.

But overall turnout has been declining in B.C. for decades. Nearly half the province didn't vote in 2009, when turnout was just 51 per cent, down from 70 per cent in 1983.

Tune into CBC for complete coverage of tonight's election results. CBC Radio One, CBC Television and online will bring you the latest as soon as the polls close.

With files from the CBC's Steve Lus and Richard Zussman