Advance voting numbers are up in Metro Vancouver but does it mean anything?

Advance voting numbers are up considerably in some Metro Vancouver cities, but it’s too early to say whether that means anything for the outcome of Saturday’s civic elections, according to a pollster.

Pollster points out that people have had more opportunities to cast advance ballots this year

Advance polling numbers are up compared to 2014 in Vancouver, Surrey and Burnaby. (Cliff Shim/CBC)

Advance voting numbers are up considerably in some Metro Vancouver cities, but it's too early to say whether that means anything for the outcome of Saturday's civic election, according to a pollster.

In Surrey, 22,185 advance ballots have been cast, close to double the city's 2014 numbers. Vancouver saw more than 29,000 votes in the first six days of advance polling, up from 23,811 last time around, and Burnaby has had 10,139 ballots cast in three days of voting, up from 6,976.

But according to Mario Canseco, president of the B.C. polling firm Research Co., we won't know whether that means anything about overall voter turnout or the election results until after the polls close on Saturday.

"It certainly would serve as an indicator that there's people who are engaged in the democratic process, and that's definitely good," he told CBC.

"But it's really too early right now to try to figure out, does this mean that there's going to be a change?"

'More opportunities to vote than ever before'

It's important to note that many municipalities have opened up more chances for advance voting in recent years, which could explain at least part of the spike, according to Canseco.

"In the City of Vancouver, particularly, there's been more opportunities to vote than ever before. There's more polling stations, there's more days. There's also the opportunity for voters to cast their ballots anywhere they want in the city," he said.

Higher overall voter turnout can sometimes indicate a desire for a change in government, as Canadians saw during the 2015 federal election, and Canseco notes that his research has shown high levels of animosity toward incumbent governments in Metro Vancouver.

Of course, in cities like Vancouver and Surrey, there aren't a lot of incumbents on the ballot.

"In order to know whether this signifies change, we're going to have to wait until the ballots are cast," Canseco said.