British Columbia

Elections B.C. puts preliminary voter turnout at 60%

Early estimates reveal 60 per cent of eligible voters cast a ballot during B.C.'s provincial election — something advocate Anastasia Gaisenok calls "dishearteningly low."

Voting advocate Anastasia Gaistenok is disheartened voter turnout isn't higher

Did gimmicks like stickers and the selfie wall inspire British Columbians to vote? (Tina Lovgreen/CBC)

The preliminary numbers are in: 60 per cent of eligible British Columbia voters headed to the polls for the provincial election, according to Elections B.C.

A more precise number will be released after the final count which is scheduled to take place between May 22 and 24.

Despite advance polls showing high turnout, the numbers weren't high on voting day.

This year's turnout was higher than British Columbia's 2013 election, when only 57.1 per cent of eligible voters voted.

In fact, 60 per cent is the highest turnout since the 1991 election, when 64 per cent of eligible voters cast their vote.

Turnout has been diminishing for the last 30 years, bottoming out in 2009 where it was close to 50 per cent.

Turnout low

For Anastasia Gaisenok, executive director of Check Your Head, a non-partisan non-profit that worked to get the youth vote out, voter turnout is still "dishearteningly low."

"The gimicks like hashtags and selfies are not going to get people out. It's a nice touch, but we really need much deeper changes to bring the state of our democracy into the 21st century," she said.

Gaisenok says the real issue is the system itself.

"I think it's symptomatic of a larger system where we have a spectacle of politics and democracy where it's often not really about the issues that people are concerned about," she said.

"We just need more [politicians that] are honest and respectful and accountable to their constituencies," she said.

"Those are the politicians that are going to change systems ... and we need more openness from the system to accept those changes."

With files from The Early Edition