British Columbia·City Votes 2014

Peter Kent, Squamish council candidate, will set himself on fire for higher voter turnout

With advance polls opening in some municipalities on Tuesday, some candidates are going to unusual efforts to encourage voter turnout which has been abysmally low in recent civic elections.

Arnold Schwarzenegger stunt double makes pitch as advance polls open on Tuesday Nov. 4

With advance polls opening as early as Tuesday, some candidates are going to unusual efforts to encourage voter turnout which has been abysmally low in civic elections.

In Squamish where council hopeful Peter Kent is spearheading a Rock the Vote Squamish campaign, the Arnold Schwarzenegger stunt double is offering to set himself on fire in this YouTube video.

Kent says he's appalled that voter turnout in his community was only 40 per cent in the last election and he's willing to walk through fire to get that number up.

"I, as a professional stuntman, will set myself on fire in the centre of this street...district [fire] permit of course," says Kent in the video.

Kent's video also challenges other candidates.

This is for you, candidates out there, accept the challenge. What can you do to help raise voter awareness in your municipality?"

Vancouver trying to improve turnout

That could be a tough sell in Vancouver where voter turnout was just 34 per cent in 2011.

People who have studied the issue say apathy among young voters is one part of the problem that only gets bigger.

"If you don't vote the first time, the likelihood of you voting again goes down significantly," says Normal Gludovatz whose group, Tactical Outcomes, specializes in public engagement.

So this year Vancouver is pulling out all the stops. 

It's increasing the number of advance polls from five to eight and they're open for eight days, 12 hours-a-day or 280 per cent longer than in 2011.

And it's created an online guide to help voters sift through all the candidates.

The City is also providing 120 locations throughout Vancouver where people can vote, alleviating the need to vote near their home.

Votes can even be mailed in.

As one Vancouver resident put it, when a CBC News crew took to the street to get their reaction to all of this, "Isn't that why all these [military] guys went overseas? So we could vote?"

With files from Kirk Williams