Historic turnout recorded at Vanderhoof by-election

Electors surpassed the municipality's expectations on Feb. 16, when a record number of people participated in the Vanderhoof by-election.

Electors surpassed the municipality’s expectations on Feb. 16, when a record number of people participated in the Vanderhoof by-election.

With 1,437 votes cast, participation has never been higher in the past 20 years, said Deputy Administrator Tom Clement.

The number shatters the Vanderhoof by-election in 2010, when only 630 people voted. Even in the 2008 mayor’s race, 1,367 people participated.

“It’s the most we’ve ever had,” said Clement.

In part, the municipality expected a higher turnout based on the large showing during advanced polls on Feb. 6, when 229 people voted, compared to about 30 in the last by-election.

Also, expectations were high because the by-election was held in conjunction with the pool referendum, regarded by some as both an asset and financial burden.

Determining the outcome of both ballots was a cinch due to the efficiency of the municiaplity’s electronic voting systems, said Clement.

According to statistics, only two people who voted in the by-election didn’t participate in the pool referendum, and 124 people who voted in the referendum didn’t bother with the by-election.

“That to me says most people were there for the pool and the election was secondary,” said Clement.

A high turnout was also recorded in Area F of the Regional District of Bulkley-Nechako, which doesn’t use electronic voting and required additional authorized personnel to assist with tallying the votes.

In contrast, the electronic systems in Vanderhoof produced final results 20 minutes after polling stations closed at 8 p.m., whereas counting the votes by hand in Area F took until 10 p.m.

Clement said the Nechako Senior Friendship Centre, which has historically been the main voting station, accommodated the increased traffic without any problems.

“It’s sort of known as the voting place,” he said.

“If we ever moved it, nobody would be able to find us.”