Hundreds more Tri-City voters flocked to advance polling stations last weekend than in the last federal election, reflecting a trend across the country.
In New Westminster-Coquitlam, the riding currently held by NDP MP Fin Donnelly, 2,589 more voters went to the advance polls compared with the 2008 early voting period.
Between Good Friday and Easter Monday, a total of 7,024 voters cast their ballots during the three designated days versus 4,435 for advance voting three years ago. The riding, which has 82,979 eligible voters, is being contested by Diana Dilworth (Conservative); Ken Beck Lee (Liberal); Rebecca Helps (Green); and Roland Verrier (Marxist-Leninist).
In Conservative MP James Moore's riding of Port Moody-Westwood-Port Coquitlam, 3,484 residents voted over the long weekend versus 2,627 in 2008 - an increase of 857. That riding has 84,842 listed electors and is being challenged by Stewart McGillivray (Liberal); Mark Ireland (NDP); Kevin Kim (Green); and Paul Geddes (Libertarian).
The advance voting numbers, supplied Tuesday by Elections Canada, are preliminary estimates.
Susan Friend, Elections Canada's B.C. spokesperson, said last Friday and Monday were the busiest, when many people were off work; turnout was also steady on Saturday.
Nation-wide, voting at advance polls was 35% higher than in 2008, with some two million people making their selections early. Three years ago, the country saw a record low turnout when it dipped below 60% for the first time.
New West-Coquitlam Liberal candidate Ken Beck Lee attributed the voter surge to the younger generation, many of whom are influenced by celebrity appeals like one from CBC commentator Rick Mercer. The younger push "is good for the Liberals and the NDP but not so much for the Conservatives because they have more of a following from the establishment."
Donnelly said youth are an important part of the process, whether communicating via social media networks such as Facebook and Twitter or talking in person with the contenders to get to know where they stand on issues.
"We are having twice as many people show up at all-candidates' meetings and I think that's great," Green Party challenger Kevin Kim said. "I think people are starting to take interest in politics because the Conservatives have been found in contempt and have the biggest deficit in history. They're also really tired of the hate politics with the Conservatives and the Liberals."
Moore said the advance voting also helps with organization. "The more Conservative-identified people who vote early, the more our campaign teams can focus on other supporters and things on election day," he said.
To vote in Monday's federal election, you must be a Canadian citizen, 18 years of age or older and have identification and proof of where you live. There are three ways to do this:
Show a piece of government-issued ID with your photo, name and address, such as a driver's licence.
Show two pieces of original ID that have your name and address on them, such as a health card and a utility bill.
If you don't have those IDs, bring an eligible voter who lives in the same riding as you to vouch for you at the polling station. The voucher needs to take an oath to confirm who you are and who he/she is.
For more information about acceptable ID, go to www.elections.ca. Alternately, call the local Elections Canada office (1-866-545-0623 for New Westminster-Coquitlam and 1-866-546-7608 for Port Moody-Westwood-Port Coquitlam).
As well, you must the back of your the Voter's Information Card to find out where you can vote or visit www.elections.ca and type in your postal code (or call 1-800-463-6868). You are required to vote at your assigned polling station.
Voting takes place between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. on May 2.