Liberal leadership voter turnout climbs to 45%

Voter turnout is growing after Saturday's "national showcase," where the six remaining candidates for the federal Liberal leadership made their final pitches, and close to half of registered voters have cast ballots.

More than 55,000 members and supporters have cast ballots with 4 voting days remaining

Registered Liberal voters have until Sunday to vote for the next leader of the party. (Nathan Denette/Canadian Press)

Voting in the Liberal leadership race grew steadily Tuesday, at a pace that indicates the number may soon push towards the 50 per cent mark, even though registered voters have until Sunday afternoon  to cast their ballots.

In an effort to make the voting process more transparent, the Liberal Party on Sunday began publishing the number of votes cast and the number of registered voters by province.

By late Tuesday afternoon, more than 55,000 — or 44 per cent — of the 127,122 party members and supporters eligible to vote had cast ballots, according to the party's website.

Officials say the numbers will continue to be updated regularly throughout the week. And with each campaign making a final push to get out the vote, voter turnout was over 20 per cent in each province, with Quebec and Ontario posting higher showings of over 40 per cent.

Registered Liberal voters by province

  • British Columbia: 16,098
  • Alberta: 9,301
  • Saskatchewan: 2,700
  • Manitoba: 4,444
  • Ontario: 59,475
  • Quebec: 14,574
  • New Brunswick: 6,889
  • Nova Scotia: 7,426
  • P.E.I: 2,611
  • Newfoundland and Labrador: 3,148
  • Nunavut: 58
  • Northwest Territories: 176
  • Yukon: 223

Total: 127,122

For a time Monday, the number of registered voters per province on the party's website added up to a number considerably higher that the 127,122 total posted beside the interactive map on the site.

The total on Monday morning, when totals for each province and territory were added together, came to 128,777, which, oddly, was a little higher than the128,351 who cast ballots in the NDP leadership race that elected Tom Mulcair a year ago..

By Monday afternoon, the party had lowered the tally in almost every province so that the numbers added up to 127,122.

Coding program updates made

In an email, party spokesperson Sarah Bain said, "We've made coding program updates and as we've always said the number could be updated due to reviews and mail delays."

Last week, party president Ian McKay said some voters hadn't received their voter IDs and PIN numbers that had been sent by mail.

Voters who cast ballots online can do it quickly if the system is working. Each voter enters his or her voter ID, PIN number, date of birth and a CAPTCHA — a type of test, usually copying a series of letters, used in computing as an attempt to ensure that the response is generated by a human being.

Voters then enter their preferential choices for each candidate, ranking them by first choice, second, third and so on. It is possible for a voter to enter only a first choice.

Race is almost over

The leadership race that began in November is almost over, and all official campaign events have finished.

The six candidates vying for the leadership of the Liberal Party are:

  • MP Justin Trudeau.
  • MP Joyce Murray.
  • Former Toronto-area MP Martha Hall Findlay.
  • Former cabinet minister Martin Cauchon.
  • Toronto lawyer Deborah Coyne.
  • Retired military officer Karen McCrimmon.

Trudeau, the perceived frontrunner, made a passionate plea on Saturday to restore the Liberals as a viable choice for Canadian voters, saying he would put forward an "irresistible alternative" to the Conservatives in time for the next general election in 2015.

A volunteer with the Trudeau campaign told CBC News that campaign staff members were not letting up their efforts to get out the vote, be it from call centres or in kitchen tables.

"It's still an election and we're not taking anything for granted," said volunteer Annamaria Nunziata.

Brad Lister, a volunteer with Joyce Murray's campaign, told CBC News they are hoping to do the same and "extol the values of Joyce."

Hall Findlay, who conceded she was the "underdog" during her speech, is counting on undecided voters.

"That undecided conversation is an important one to have," Angus Rennie, a volunteer for the Hall Findlay campaign, told CBC News.

Registered voters attending the showcase were able to cast their ballots after the candidates finished their speeches, while others began voting Sunday, online or by phone.

Voters have until Sunday at 3 p.m. ET to cast a ballot. The final results are expected to be announced after 5 p.m. that same day.

Labrador byelection

The next leader will be elected through a preferential ballot based on a points system that gives each of the 308 ridings across the country 100 points for a total of 30,800 points.

The winner will have to obtain 50 per cent plus one, or a total of 15,401 points.

The first test for the new Liberal leader will come with a byelection in the riding of Labrador on May 13.

Liberals are hoping to regain the seat they lost to the Conservatives by 79 votes in the last federal election.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper had until September to call the byelection, but chose to call it early.

Another challenge for the new leader will be to figure out where in the country they are going to focus their rebuilding efforts.

Nik Nanos, president and CEO of Nanos Research, told CBC Radio's The House on Saturday that "what the Liberals lack is a regional base."

Nanos added: "Mathematically, if a party wants to win a federal election, it must have a regional base… and right now it's slim pickings."